Wild finish leaves IndyCar drivers fuming in NH
Oriol Servia was 2nd for Newman/Haas and Scott Dixon third for Ganassi Racing.
Earlier Dario Franchitti crashed on a restart after contact with Takuma Sato on the front straight. Up until that point Franchitti had dominated the race.
The finish order was set based on the Lap 215 running order under caution -- before a Lap 217 restart that went awry because of a slick racing surface. As cars exited Turn 4 of the 1.025-mile oval for the double-file restart, Danica Patrick's car spun to start a chain reaction of light contact that involved four other cars on the lead lap.
"The only right thing to do and the fair thing to do is to go to the running order before the restart," he said. "Safety of all the drivers out there is our No. 1 priority, and when you make the wrong call it leaves you with a sick feeling. We didn't receive any objections from our pit techs talking to the teams or the observers around the track or Johnny Rutherford out there in the pace car."
Hunter-Reay, who started fifth in the No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop car for Andretti Autosport and inherited the lead on Lap 190 when Takuma Sato pitted for fuel, earned his first IZOD IndyCar Series oval victory. He's had podium finishes in three of the past four races.
"I know Race Control wanted to get in a green flag finish by throwing the red flag, but it was slick out there," Hunter-Reay said. "I too wish it could have gone green to the end. It was a strange day. But sometimes racing is strange."
Oriol Servia finished a season-high second in the No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing car and Scott Dixon earned his second consecutive podium finish (he won at Mid-Ohio a week earlier) in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car. Rookie James Hinchcliffe tied his season high in fourth place in the No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing car.
Will Power, who started 13th in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, finished fifth and Patrick was sixth in the No. 7 Team GoDaddy car. Power's result sliced 15 points from Dario Franchitti's series championship lead. That gap is now 47 heading to Infineon Raceway for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 27.
He apologized for his actions directed toward the Race Control booth following the Lap 217 restart, in which his car was involved in the sliding/contact.
"It's definitely no excuse but I was just very frustrated because our car ran so well and our team had worked so hard to put ourselves into a position to get a good finish and I thought it was just ridiculous to restart the race under the dangerous conditions that existed on the racetrack," he said. "I am just glad the officials decided to make the decision to revert the finishing order to what it was before the final restart."
Franchitti, who earned the three bonus points for the pole and leading the most race laps, had been running at the finish in 43 consecutive races. He was dominant early, turning a lap 6 mph quicker than second place Servia on Lap 30.
On the restart -- following a caution for contact on the backstretch between the cars of Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti and Tomas Scheckter, in which Kanaan wound up on his head when the No. 82 GEICO KV Racing Technology-Lotus car hit the interior tire barrier -- the right-front tire of Sato's car made contact with Franchitti's left-rear.
"It was my fault. I was too close to Dario," Sato said. "I had debris in my eye and there were tears. There is no excuse for that."
Said Franchitti: "We had a good race car overall and we were strong all weekend. It is really unfortunate for Team Target. He started coming up into me before the restart. I really don’t know what he was thinking."
Hunter-Reay said he couldn't warm the Firestone Firehawk slicks heading to the Lap 217 restart.
“I don’t think the fans at home understand how wet it was," he said. "We have a very small contact patch (of the tires to the racing surface), but when there’s some rain down there’s nothing there. I couldn’t even put the power down in second or third. I love these short ovals. They are so much fun.
"I knew we had a good car this weekend and in practice we’ve been making the car better and better. I feel like the race turned was Dario and Sato getting together. My car was so good in traffic. The (crew) guys deserve this win. I wish that it was different, but we’ll take it after the year that we’ve had.”
He's strung together five consecutive top 10s after only one in the first eight races.
Sato finished seventh and Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe was eighth. Rookie Charlie Kimball recorded his second consecutive top 10 in the No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog Flex Pen car, and Vitor Meira finished 10th for the second race in a row in the No. 14 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): "I knew we had a good car this weekend and in practice we've been making the car better and better. They have done such a good job. We have great chemistry on this team and it's a great result. I feel like the race turned was Dario and Sato getting together. I don't know who's fault that was. That's for them to decide. My car was so good in traffic. The guys deserve this win. This one is for them. I wish that it was different, but we'll take it after the year that we've had." (About the conditions at the end): "I couldn't even warm the tires it was so wet. I don't think the fans at home understand how wet it was. We have a very small contact patch and the Firestone contact patch is amazing but when there's some rain down, there's nothing there. I couldn't even put the power down in second or third. Wrong move on race control's part. We had such a great car today. I love these short ovals. They are so much fun. It was a strange day. But sometimes racing is strange."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing, finished fourth): "I feel really good. It's a strong result for us. We started fourth, which was the best qualifying effort and ran second early in the first stint. I had a small problem on the pit stop. I went bit long in the box and had a problem on the right rear. But we fought our way back up. We had a good car in traffic, and on short track like this, traffic is really the name of the game, so it was really fun out there."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen, finished ninth): "Charlie - "Another great day for Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing. We had the speed all day, and at one point during that first stint I think the No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen car was quickest car on the track. I got caught up early on behind (Marco) Andretti and he was a little erratic, so I had to be careful and unfortunately went a lap down. The yellows for moisture just caught us wrong, but we were quick all day. I can't wait to go to Sonoma next with two top-10 qualifying efforts and two top-11 finishes in-a-row; it gives the Novo Nordisk team some good momentum to finish out the season."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing, finished 10th): "All that happened at the end of the race isn't worth talking about—everything speaks for itself-but I think it was big mistake [to not finish the race]. Our car was okay but we came from a very tough run of small ovals. We had a bad Milwaukee race and a bad race in Iowa so at least we got some points back and our confidence back here which is a very tough track. The ABC Supply team did a good job, we got places on the starts and a lot of people were having problems with cold tires and we were ok on that. We got a lot of positions by other people's mistakes and crashes. It's good to be top 10 but bittersweet - to be honest, we should have finished seventh but instead we're 10th."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "First of all, I have to apologize for losing my temper after the accident that ended our race. Regardless of what happened on the race track, my behavior was inexcusable and I apologize to our sponsors, the fans, the IZOD IndyCar Series officials and the Penske Racing organization. I should not have behaved the way I did and I am sorry. It's definitely no excuse but I was just very frustrated because our car ran so well and our team had worked so hard to put ourselves into a position to get a good finish and I thought it was just ridiculous to restart the race under the dangerous conditions that existed on the race track. I am just glad the officials decided to make the decision to revert the finishing order back to what it was before the final restart. I want to thank my team for their hard work today and, again, I'm sorry for the way our race ended and how I handled the situation."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "Most importantly they just need to be consistent. In my eyes, I should have been second right behind Oriol Servia because Ryan (Hunter-Reay) didn't go. I think that Ryan deserved to win today because he had the better car and he was out front, but it went green. We aren't racing USAC on the dirt so why did they go back a lap and include no pace car laps and invert the order of how it actually played out. It just makes no sense because they have been going off of time lines all day and because of that we got passed by the No. 06 twice today. I just don't understand race control's thinking. It isn't make things up as you go racing; It is IndyCar racing with rules. I am fine if they make decisions, they just need to be consistent. You can't go back and do several different things and race that way. It needs to be the same thing every time."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): "I think it was really wet out there and we shouldn't have gone out, but they threw the green and I was ahead when the yellow went out. Any racing, even here, when you call the leader that is the way it stands. They called me the leader and then they decide to reserve it. I am very upset. Race control called leader car No. 2 and that is when the yellow came, we were ahead."
ED CARPENTER (No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing): "Obviously this weekend hasn't been one to remember, but the whole team fought hard. I never gave up, just like the team didn't give up on me all weekend. We were making up spots in the race, and the car was really good on restarts. I passed cars every single start, and today was the most fun I've had on two-wide restarts. It's just disappointing. We were working hard. The car was getting faster as the race went on, and we kept getting better. To have our race ended by a poor officiating call, trying to restart a race in the green while it's raining, is just really unfortunate."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team All Natural Snapple): "The Snapple car had a bent right rear from the (Mike) Conway incident, trying to miss Conway earlier. I was just trying to bring it home. I was basically a bystander in the middle of the racetrack, I didn't move my line and I think (Tomas) Scheckter came across my front and took me and Tony (Kanaan) out. I had nowhere to go. I would have let them by but I had no idea. But congrats to Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and his crew on their win."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/HVM Racing): "It was a crazy race. I think this track is one of the toughest ovals that we go to. It think it was really important to get the monkey off our back from all that we went through. The Nuclear Clean Air Energy car was pretty good. It was pretty easy to drive and the team gave me a good car. It was just crazy at the end. But that's racing."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy): "That was definitely my mistake. I got on the throttle and it came around. I take full responsibility for that one and the mess that it created. I was one of many people who thought that we shouldn't be going green. I was like 'what are we doing? What are they doing' I left it in first gear and not getting traction. I'm one to finish races and be smart and get through it all, but it was slippery out there. "
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske): "The Guidepoint Systems car turned some fast laps out there today. It's unfortunate that we got caught in some turbulence early in the race and ended up spinning the car and hitting the wall, which cost us a lot of laps. The No. 3 Team Penske crew did a great job of fixing the car and getting us back out on the track. Our car was definitely a top-10 car today, it just didn't work out for us. Now, we'll look ahead and move on to the next race in Sonoma."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Penske Truck Rental): "It was certainly a difficult race out there and a tough weekend overall, but I'm proud of our effort on the Penske Truck Rental team. We were fighting to be in the top-five all day but we had a tough last restart - we just got stuck on the bottom of the track and it was really tough to recover after that. The race never should've gone back to green at the end there as the conditions were just too poor. We did the best we could today and we came out of it with a top-10 finish. We'll take it and move on to Sonoma."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): "I guess Dario (Franchitti) got turned around or got loose and spun to the inside of the track. Obviously the yellow was going to come out so I just checked up. I didn't know if Dario was going to spin back onto the track so I moved up to the middle a little bit and then I just kind of got cleaned out by EJ (Viso). It's frustrating because we were having a really good day. Our car was really good at the end of a run. We were on the lead lap and looking pretty good. I'm frustrated for the guys; they worked really hard. And for the National Guard, they had a lot of people out here as well."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Nikon): "He (Takuma Sato) kept coming up and I don't know what he was going to do. He had a very clear view of where I was and he kept coming up. We had a good race car overall and we were strong all weekend. It is really unfortunate for Team Target. He started coming up into me before the restart. I really don't know what he was thinking."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "It's a shame. We struggled a bit this weekend, but the whole Bowers & Wilkins Sam Schmidt team did a good job to recover. We seemed to have a good car early on and made up some positions. Then we lost the balance and the car went really loose and we lost positions. At the end, we had a problem with the exhaust and that burned the bodywork on the engine of the car. It's a shame for the whole team."
1. (5) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 215, Running
2. (2) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 215, Running
3. (7) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 215, Running
4. (4) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 215, Running
5. (13) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 215, Running
6. (15) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 215, Running
7. (8) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 215, Running
8. (6) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 214, Running
9. (10) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 213, Running
10. (19) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 212, Running
11. (25) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 212, Running
12. (17) EJ Viso, Dallara-Honda, 212, Running
13. (14) Alex Lloyd, Dallara-Honda, 211, Running
14. (21) Ana Beatriz, Dallara-Honda, 210, Running
15. (24) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Honda, 210, Running
16. (26) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Honda, 209, Running
17. (9) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 202, Running
18. (20) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 176, Mechanical
19. (16) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 137, Mechanical
20. (1) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 118, Contact
21. (11) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Honda, 118, Contact
22. (3) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 109, Contact
23. (18) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 109, Contact
24. (22) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 109, Contact
25. (12) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 0, Contact
26. (23) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 0, Contact
27. (27) Pippa Mann, Dallara-Honda,0, Did Not Start
Winners average speed: 112.030
Time of Race: 01:58:01.5843
Margin of victory: Under caution
Cautions: 6 Cautions for 66 Laps
Lead changes: 7 among 6 drivers
Franchitti 1 - 72
Briscoe 73 - 74
Franchitti 75 - 117
Hunter-Reay 118 - 164
Dixon 165 - 166
Power 167 - 178
Sato 179 - 191
Hunter-Reay 192 - 215
Point Standings: Franchitti 443, Power 396, Dixon 370, Servia 308, Kanaan 295, Briscoe 277, Andretti 270, Hunter-Reay 261, Rahal 240, Sato 238
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