Untimely caution ruins Conquest’s chance at top finish

Alex Tagliani felt robbed
Mark Scheuern/AR1.com

They were fast, they were leading and they were dominating, but Conquest Racing and Alex Tagliani also suffered heartbreak at the Honda Indy Toronto today. The team ran in the top two for more than half the race, leading 21 laps, and was possibly on their way to a first win, but everything just melted away because of an untimely caution period. Conquest and Tagliani, aboard his #34 Rexall Edmonton Indy / King Tut car, had to settle for ninth.

After scoring their best start of the season on Saturday, the team was off to an impressive start in the IndyCar Series’ first race on the streets of Toronto. Tagliani, who was starting fifth, made up three positions at the start to take over second place behind eventual winner Dario Franchitti. The Canadian had the crowd behind him as he remained in striking distance of Franchitti and ahead of Scott Dixon and they cheered even more when he took over the lead on lap 25 following the leader’s early pit stop.

Tagliani remained in the lead fighting with drivers such as Paul Tracy and Dixon, up until his first pit stop on lap 34. With other drivers having pitted during an early caution period, Tagliani found himself seventh, but once the pit stops had cycled through he was once again in the lead. Everything was looking good for the Conquest squad as Tagliani seemed untouchable. But then came heartbreak on lap 59 when a yellow flag flew for an incident in the infamous Turn 3 of the 1.75-mile, 11-turn street course.

Because of the rule that requires officials to close the pits during the first laps of a full course caution, Tagliani couldn’t immediately pit to keep his advantage. The team’s performance was now in vain, since the yellow advantaged cars that had pitted earlier including Franchitti who had just pitted. Tagliani wound up 11th at the time.

Following some on-track incidents and a few passes, Tagliani ended his ninth start on the streets of Toronto in ninth place. The result was the team’s third consecutive top-ten finish on a street course this season.

9th – Alex Tagliani Rexall Edmonton Indy/King Tut Honda/Dallara/Firestone
“It’s very unfortunate to dominate like this in a race and lose it by a ‘pits are closed’ rule, it’s a little bit disappointing but what can I say. We were kind of the victim of our own performance. The car was great on tires and fuel. I was driving a really good race, and I didn’t have the need to pit. Guys were pitting behind us and when the yellow came out because of an incident, I couldn’t pit to keep the advantage I had. That rule really destroyed our whole race. It’s a shame to see it slip away between our fingers. But in the end, we came here and we showed that we could be faster than anybody else."

Eric Bachelart Team Owner
“It’s hard to accept that we can lose a race when we have been dominating the whole time because of a yellow. I really think that the officials should have a hard look at their rules. I think that too many times we have seen the leader lose the race because of a yellow. The current rules do not always reward the best car and driver on the track and it becomes a bit of a gambling exercise. This being said, I very much appreciate the team effort and Alex’s brilliant driving today. It’s obviously a very disappointing result, but we proved we have the potential to win a race and hopefully it will happen soon."

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