Tensions still high in Edmonton
Graham Rahal didn't come all this way to make a friend. It's probably just as well, because Scott Dixon isn't calling to make amends.
The two Izod IndyCar Series drivers employed by Ganassi Racing were part of the unfriendly sideshow at the recent race in Toronto, and while they have talked to their bosses about the incident, they haven't talked to one another.
No surprise there. Rahal said "I probably haven't spoke 50 words to those two" all season. Rahal also is at odds with Dario Franchitti, who has sided with Dixon in this battle of stressed teammates. Rahal said Franchitti also has "thrown me under the bus" at times this season.
In Toronto, Dixon used a harsh phrase to describe his late-race disgust with Rahal, who was trying to fight off his teammates on the tight street circuit. Dixon went on to say that Franchitti is his only teammate.
Word got back to Rahal, who fired back with his own view.
"It was just a heated situation," Dixon said Saturday at City Centre Airport, site of today's Edmonton Indy. "We had a quick chat about it."
Sort of. They apparently never spoke to each other, and it's clear that tension remains.
"What they say goes in one ear and out the other with me; that's kind of the way it has to be," Rahal said. "It's like my dad used to say: 'I'm here to win races; I'm not here to make friends.' "
At the circus center is Chip Ganassi and his staff. Mike Hull, who leads the day-to-day activities of the organization, said he has always felt race car drivers need to settle their own differences. But he stepped in to a degree in this case because the chatter spilled into the public domain.
"We sat the guys down and talked because it represents us," Hull said. "This isn't how we do things."
Hull said Toronto has a history of producing stressful racing situations and tempers. He called it "our version of Bristol," a reference to NASCAR's short-track event at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Dixon said he doesn't "hold grudges" and that he "likes the kid."
Rahal said he didn't care.
"If he means it, that's his problem," he said.
Canada seems to stir the blood of the Yankee-based drivers.
Will Power and Franchitti are still strained following their mid-race contact in Toronto. Power let loose his frustrations on the television broadcast, saying Franchitti never gets penalized by IndyCar's officiating crew. Power then called Franchitti a princess on Twitter.
Power said they're still at odds, and that was clear in Saturday's post-qualifying news conference when they sat side by side with their heads turning every direction but toward the other.
"He won't even look me in the eye," Power said.
This track has a history of hot tempers. Last year, Helio Castroneves stormed on foot to seek a reason for IndyCar's call of blocking Power on a restart with three laps to go.
Even the polite Oriol Servia got into the action Saturday. Ryan Hunter-Reay was trying to get around him at the end of the second round of qualifying, and Servia finally pulled over. But that wasn't the end of it. Servia jumped on his tail, and they got helmet to helmet on pit road and hashed it out in animated fashion.
The layout of this new circuit won't make it easy to cool off. Turns one, five and 13 are tight and treacherous, and they come at the end of long straights.
"It's going to get aggressive," said Dixon, who won last year's race without leading a lap because Castroneves ignored the penalty.
Contact will come today. The question will be: How much and how soon will it come?
Those answers start with Power and Franchitti, who start second and fourth behind Takuma Sato, who won his second pole of the season (the other last month at Iowa Speedway).
Said Franchitti: "We've done it before; we'll be fine."
Followed Power: "He's behind me (at the start), so it's up to him."
Game on. Citizen-Times