|(L to R) Ryan Briscoe (2nd) Dario Franchitti (1st) and Will Power (3rd)|
The action didn't take long to get started, with Graham Rahal's front wing making its brief appearance as a track fly-by, flattening tires of both Ryan Briscoe and Will Power in the process. Suddenly all three were running an alternative pit strategy. However, there was no caution, and Dario steadily pulled away in the early laps by over 2 seconds.
Dan Wheldon brought out a full-course caution when he spun on lap 9 after making contact with rookie Richard Antinucci. Both continued on, but both suffered through tough days. Wheldon struggled all weekend, and is probably happy to escape with a 14th place finish. Antinucci piloted the vastly underfunded 3G (Beck Curb) car to a 21st place finish.
No sooner had the green come out, Ed Carpenter had his first incident of the day and caused a quick second yellow. Ed finished 15th, and no doubt hopes to never see a street course again, as this was the first of at least 3 incidents in the day.
Once again, Dario Franchitti pulled out to a lead when the green flew, and by now it was obvious that he was the class of the field. By lap 22 he led second-place Alex Tagliani by a second.
Dario Franchitti finally relinquished the lead when he pitted. Much to the delight of the patriotic Canadian crowd, Alex Tagliani took the lead, followed by Scott Dixon, Mike Conway, Paul Tracy and Mario Moraes. Even more to the delight of the local crowd, by lap 30 Tagliani and Paul Tracy were in a spirited battle for the lead of the race, which continued until Tracy pitted on lap 33.
When Tracy came out of the pits, he immediately engaged rookie Mike Conway in another spirited battle for position. Tracy, on fresh black tires, passed Conway, and the talented rookie saw his chance as Tracy's car broke loose in the next corner. Sadly, so did Conway's, resulting in the right rear tire making contact with the wall, ending any chance that Conway had at contending for a win. Conway finished 22nd, which did not reflect his top-ten position on the practice speed charts all weekend.
On lap 35, Alex Tagliani finally pitted, giving the lead briefly to Mario Moraes, who pitted a lap later. When Tagliani returned to the track, once again he and Tracy put on a Canadian driver exhibition as they fought for positions 8 and 9, again much to the delight of the local crowd. Moraes' pit stop put Tomas Scheckter in the lead, which he led through lap 41, when Scheckter gave the lead to Helio Castroneves as he pitted.
Helio in turn pitted on lap 48, handing the lead to Tagliani. Tagliani was followed by Paul Tracy, Justin Wilson, Scott Dixon, and Mario Moraes. However, all the first 10 cars had only gone in for one pit stop, and Helio was lurking behind them with his second pit stop completed. However, the next 7 laps was another made-for-Canada duel between Tagliani and Tracy, with the crowd cheering its approval.
Those second pit stops started on lap 56 for most of the leaders, with Paul Tracy ducking in for his last planned stop. During those stops, Graham had his second incident of the day as he and Ed Carpenter got together for Ed's third incident of the day. IRL officials ruled that Dario was already past the commitment line and allowed him to make that stop under yellow. Even more controversial was the IRL's decision to give Dario second place on the restart, ahead of Paul Tracy, and behind Helio Castroneves. Scott Dixon was fourth, and Ryan Hunter-Reay was fifth, in an impressive run for the AJ Foyt team.
The green flag flew on lap 62, and Dario Franchitti took the lead on lap 65 as Helio's tires showed signs of wear. Paul Tracy was likewise trying to pass Helio in a bit of thrilling driving when they got together and crashed out of the race. Helio experienced, perhaps for the first time, the feeling of an entire nation booing him. "I still love Canada, don't get me wrong!" exclaimed a chagrined Helio. Paul Tracy's interview was classic Tracy, with him questioning the decision to put Dario ahead of him, but then thanking the crowd and sponsors for supporting him. "I think I proved I can run with these guys," Tracy explained at the end of the interview.
When the green flag flew on lap 70, Dario Franchitti was in the lead, followed by Ryan Briscoe, Justin Wilson, Danica Patrick and Will Power. Dario soon checked out on the field, and the race was all but over save the next (and last) caution flag.
The last caution flag was probably an exercise in frustration. Alex Tagliani missed his braking point, and hit Tomas Scheckter who had slowed for Mario Moraes. Moraes had just completed an incident with EJ Viso, and had broken his front wing. All three cars -- Tagliani, Scheckter and Moraes -- were involved, with Tagliani and Scheckter done for the day. Scheckter fought off IRL safety officials in order to throw his gloves at Tagliani as he came by. And, after the race, EJ Viso and Moraes had something of a "brake failure" incident as they tangled and went into the wall. Tagliani finished 9th, Scheckter finished 16th, Moraes 11th, and EJ finished 13th.
The last green flew on lap 78, and Franchitti checked out on the field. Franchitti's next-to-last lap was his fastest of the race. "I wasn't pushing," he later said, adding that he thought that if his last lap was his fastest then the team might think he was tempting fate. He won by 1.6 seconds over Ryan Briscoe.
Honda Indy Toronto officials declined to release attendance figures. In their press conference, they proclaimed that "The attendance exceeded expectations." However, local press -- and those who remember the previous 22 races -- expressed disappointment for both the amount of race publicity as well as the turnout.
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, winner Honda Indy Toronto): "I guess we timed it right with strategy. We really struggled in that first stint, towards the end. We really used up the reds and I was struggling. Then I got stuck by some really slow cars in the middle stint - (Mario) Moraes in particular didn't do the same thing twice in any corner, so I just stayed out of his way, but I couldn't get past him. Then we came in (to the pits) just as it went yellow, and it helped me get close to the front. I passed a couple cars and then on the restarts, I was able to take off. The Target car was fast on the restarts and we were really able to take off. It's 10 years since my first one here and it feel good." (About team owner Chip Ganassi missing the race): "I spent a lot of years chasing the Target cars here and finishing behind. I have to thank Chip. He gave me the opportunity to come back here and drive these cars. So, thanks."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, finished second): "It was a tough day. I got run into going into Turn 3 on the first lap and cut a tire. That really put us back. We made some pretty dramatic changes to the car coming into the race today. We just had our fingers crossed going into it. The car felt awesome and we were able to put in some really good lap times. It was a fun race with lots of passing.
WILL POWER: (No. 12 Penske Truck Rentals, finished third): "We were almost a lap down, and I didn't realized that I hadn't done my two laps on the reds, so we had to pit again and put the reds on til the end. It was a good result. I had so much fun. I never passed so many cars before in a race." (About the start): "I think the car went sideways, and touched Graham Rahal's front wing."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, finished fourth): "The car was really good. We were strong today. I think we probably made the most passes. Our pit team was pretty good also. I'm pleased with the car but not with the result. All-in-all I think we had a really decent day we just got really screwed on that pit strategy, when the yellow comes out and you get stuck all the way in the back."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 18 Z-Line Designs, finished fifth): "It was ok, not too bad. Thatâ€™s how it goes some days. We just had to survive and it was pretty tough out there. I think it got us some good points, but that's racing, you just have to keep working at it and sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don't" (About battle with Will Power): "I think Will got a run on me to get position, and then Will was just plain blocking, so since that last restart he slowed right down and let the leaders pull away and then did his own restart. It's just how it goes. We beat up on Penske and Ganassi last week and they got their own back this week."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola, finished 6th): We started in the back of the field and fought our way up to the front. The Boost Mobile/Motorola guys did a great job in the pits and they made the right calls with the strategy. I lost a few positions on the second to last restart, but I was trying to save fuel. But it's a great result considering the weekend we had. I have to thank all the fans for coming out today, and I can't wait to come back next year."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing, finished seventh): "I'm happy for these guys to be able to roll the ABC car back in the truck and it's nice not having anyone run into us on the first lap. We got going good early and we had a good car and then we got caught out on a full course yellow with our pit strategy. We had been running 5th and then we were 16th but we were able to work our way back up and get a top ten, thanks in part to good clean pit stops. So it's a big positive for the ABC Supply team. Maybe we finally got that monkey got our back."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE iShares, finished 8th): "It didn't turn out as too bad of a day for the NYSE iShares car considering it seemed to turn into an attrition race. We were able make it to the end and work our way toward the front. The #26 car was quick on the black tires so the longer stint we ran on reds cost us some time and I think we lost a little ground there. The boys did a great job in the pits all day and we're nearing the top-five in points. Overall I'm happy with the top-ten finish today."
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 US Marines Luczo Dragon Racing, finished 10th): This was the most difficult race of the season, it was very challenging. There were a lot of drivers taking a lot of risks and that's why so many guys didn't finish. It was good for us to get another top 10 and pick up some points. The Marines Luczo Dragon team did a really good job all weekend. We just keep progressing as a team and I keep getting more and more experience. It was important for us to finish for our confidence and for the sponsors, but we're a little disappointed because we had a much better car than 10th place."
||Dario Franchitti (10)
||Ryan Briscoe (6)
||Will Power (12)
||Scott Dixon (9)
||Justin Wilson (18)
||Danica Patrick (7)
||Ryan Hunter-Reay (14)
||Marco Andretti (26)
||Alex Tagliani (34)
||Raphael Matos (2)
||Mario Moraes (5)
||Hideki Mutoh (27)
||EJ Viso (13)
||Dan Wheldon (4)
||Ed Carpenter (20)
||Tomas Scheckter (23)
||Tony Kanaan (11)
||Helio Castroneves (3)
||Paul Tracy (15)
||Graham Rahal (02)
||Richard Antinucci (98)
||Mike Conway (24)
||Robert Doornbos (06)
Winner's average speed: 86.240 mph
Time of race: 1:43:47.1408
Margin of victory: 1.6745 seconds
Cautions: 5 caution flags for 15 laps
Lead changes: 7 among 5 drivers
Lap leaders: Franchitti 1-24, Tagliani 25-33, Moraes 34, Scheckter 35-40, Castroneves 41-47, Tagliani 48-59, Castroneves 60-64, Franchitti 65-85.
Point standings: Franchitti 347, Dixon 345, Briscoe 334, Castroneves 269, Patrick 266, Wheldon 240, Andretti 239, Kanaan 227, Wilson 217, Rahal 209.