Franchitti hangs on to win in Toronto, stretches lead

Dario Franchitti on his way to victory
Dennis Ashlock/Firestone

The old Canadian quip goes, “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out." Today, the same could be said for the Honda Indy Toronto street race – a street fight broke out instead. And by the end, everyone except for the winner – who was apologizing for causing a wreck that took out his best competition – was angry. Ryan Hunter-Reay commented after the race, “It’s not bad racing, but it is heated racing!"

The carnage started in the third lap. Ryan Briscoe and Tony Kanaan started racing, and ran out of room in turn 3, with Kanaan becoming airborne. Kanaan’s day was over, finishing last. Briscoe soldiered on, and was involved in another wreck later, but finished 7th. Tony thought that the wreck was the result of a lack of functioning brain cells, and later on Al Unser Jr. – who visited the Versus studio after the race – said that the wreck was unnecessary as well.

No sooner than the race restarted, Danica Patrick was punted by Takuma Sato. Danica expressed her displeasure by a gesture that needed no translation as she passed Sato in the pits. She would be punted several more times in the day, and finished 19th. Sato soldiered on and finished 20th.

However, after that, some sanity reigned. By lap 20, Will Power was in the lead, followed by Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Mike Conway and Graham Rahal.

On lap 30, Helio made his annual bid to be hated by the entire country of Canada when he punted Canadian Alex Tagliani in – where else? – turn 3. Castroneves suffered suspension damage, and ended up 17th, which is good considering the damage that was repair on pit road. Castroneves, of course, took out Canadian Paul Tracy in 2009 and 2010. Tagliani went 1 lap down, and he wasn’t done for the day, and finished 23rd.

The restart on lap 39 didn’t last one lap before Ryan Hunter-Reay had damage to his front wing. In another melee, Paul Tracy and James Hinchcliffe got together, flattening Hinchcliffe’s rear tire, and destroying Tracy’s front wing.

Hunter-Reay’s team took the gamble of the season when they decided to NOT replace the wing under the yellow flag pit stops, and by lap 46 they were forced to pit after it cut down a tire. The wing proved to be stubborn, and quite frankly it looked like their chances at winning were gone when they left the pits on lap 47.

However, on that same lap Paul Tracy punted Vitor Meira. Meira went straight down the runoff, but Tracy was left sideway, collecting Charlie Kimball and Sebastian Bourdais. It was the first of a long list of cautions that would work to Hunter-Reay’s favor. Tracy finished 16th, Meira a strong 5th, Kimball 21st, and Bourdais a very respectable 6th.

After pit stops, the running order was Graham Rahal, EJ Viso, Will Power, Simona De Silvestro, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dario Franchitti, and Scott Dixon which, of course, didn’t last long when the beating and banging continued. On lap 53 EJ tried for the lead, but ended up going to third behind Hunter-Reay. On lap 55, Mike Conway collected Ryan Briscoe, which resulted in a local caution and a 20-second pit penalty for Conway. And, on lap 57, Dario tried to pass Will Power, but managed to spin Power out instead, resulting in a full-course caution and a drastic change in the season points lead.

The grudge matches continued on lap 61, with lots of aggressive driving that resulted in EJ’s chances at winning being ended when he contacted Justin Wilson, causing a flat tire. Viso’s finish of 9th was the highest of the KV team, but wasn’t indicative of a strong run.

On lap 66, the ugliness got uglier. Will Power and Alex Tagliani were mired back in traffic when they got together. Tagliani was okay, but tempers by this time were definitely frayed. A clearly agitated Will Power provided some of the most colorful commentary since… well, since Will’s commentary last week. Power calls the first incident a ““Pretty Dirty Move" on Dario’s part. “I’m really disappointed in Dario – I always race him clean, he always races me dirty." As for Tagliani – “He’s always a bit of a Wanker".

Also angered was Michael Andretti, noting that the three Ganassi cars up front were not lining up 2 abreast for restarts, thus putting Ryan Hunter-Reay in a disadvantage. And, replays clearly showed that, at best, the first 2 cars were lined up next to each other on restarts. Dario claimed that the first turn was “like ice" with marbles “that just wouldn’t come up" and therefore two-abreast restarts were a bit of a problem.

With 14 to go, another attempt was made to race, and indeed Dario took the lead after the green flew. However, Danica got into the back of James Jakes, and Alex Tagliani’s car went on 2 wheels and head-first into the fence in a very scary incident. Tagliani was out of the day, but Danica’s car was eventually fitted with team mate Marco Andretti’s nose cone and sent out to finish the race. Danica finished 19th, Tagliani finished 23rd, and James Jakes finished 18th. Danica’s return to the track probably moved her up 4 positions in the final results.

There was another restart with 9 to go, with another massive pileup. Marco Andretti turned Oriol Servia, which collected Mike Conway, Charlie Kimball, James Hinchcliffe, Justin Wilson, JR Hildebrand, and perhaps every member of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team.

On the final restart, Graham Rahal was punted out of a top-3 finish by Ryan Hunter-Reay. “Some people strap on their helmet and they lose their brain," commented Rahal later on. However, the race continued, and Dario stretched out his lead and won going away.

After the race, Dario said of his contact with Will Power: “If he’s pissed off, he’s quite right to be pissed off." Dario was asked to compare his experience today with his experience in NASCAR at Bristol during the press conference. Which brings us to that second great Canadian quip – “Either the NHL needs to stop these fights, or then will have to build more grand stands." Perhaps if an IndyCar race can be compared to Bristol, we can see sold-out 150,000 crowds too?


DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, winner Honda Indy Toronto): "I was pretty happy just be in the company of Rick and J.R., and to get my 30th win today means a lot, especially here in Toronto, I got my first pole here in 1997. I love racing in Canada. We had that incident with Will. He outbraked himself to outbrake me and opened up the door, I went down the inside, I held the wall and Will came down. I put my nose in there, I was trying to get my nose out, but ultimately he closed the door and paid the price." (About the restarts with Graham): " I don't think Graham was doing anything crazy, there as nothing bad going on there, but he couldn't run the outside of 10 in the marbles, so he was taking my lane, and I couldn't get on the outside of 11, so I couldn't get alongside him. I tried it once and almost smacked the fence down. We were doing our best, the restarts were tough just because of the marbles on them. (About his confidence leading the points championship): "Racing against guys like—you see how good Scott's been all weekend, Scott's was dynamite all weekend. Will was very strong, we know that, I don't take anything for granted. That lead could go down in one week, so we'll just keep pushing."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "It's frustrating because these street races are part luck, you know. Will and I were one and two, then he comes out like 18th or something like that, so it's—and the 10 car gets it every time, so I'll call back on the radio and say, 'Let me guess who's leading. The 10 car.' Which, is good on him, they make good strategy, and obviously Dario is quick as well and we all had to pass a lot of cars, but it's frustrating. We were getting into a nice rhythm there, car was quick and good, and then the strategy throws it all off." (About his strategy): "For us we knew what the window was, we discussed it in the morning, we were going to pit early. But obviously they split the strategy with Dario and he pitted early, and left me out to put some pressure on Will, which that didn't work, but we knew the get home number and we were set."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda, finished third): " I got third and now we just have to go win one. The Ganassi boys did a great job. Congrats to Dario. Those cars were the class of the field today. The two red and white cars – they just took off." (About contact with Rahal) :" "Unfortunately, it is a bit of a product of Toronto. I feel really bad for Graham on that. When Dixon went by him, Graham kind of chopped him on the straight. Dixon went by him and really ran him wide in the corner into turn three. There's a football field worth of real estate there and I went for it and Graham slid across so. I'm not going to blame it on him and I certainly did not deliberately do that. That was just part of Toronto. As you can see, what we had out here today was a little bit of a crash test unfortunately. I hope the fans enjoyed it and I am just really happy to get DHL, Circle K and Sun Drop on the podium. It was a hard fought day. It wasn't a straight forward podium that's for sure.

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Dr Pepper): "It was great to get the Dr Pepper car a fourth-place finish; especially considering we started 20th. We struggled with setups earlier in the weekend but then sat back and realized I was trying too hard to drive my teammates' setups – I credit them for being able to pull it off but I can't do it. My driving style is just too aggressive. We thought back to when we were last successful and tried to go back toward that type of setup. We're close and now we have a direction for the future. I feel for everyone who got taken out. Looking back, I think what happened to Oriol (Servia) was my fault, but that's the position we're put in with the double-file restarts. I tried to back out but was too committed and couldn't back out enough."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing): "It was a good day for ABC Supply and a good way to bounce back from the last 2 races we had. It was a very tough trace but it was one that rewarded experience. It was plenty aggressive out there. I may have been over cautious at times but it was stupid crazy in the beginning. I left a little on the table cause I knew people would be crashing right & left. No matter how we got there it was a good finish for the ABC Supply team – they're upbeat so that's all I care about." (About crash): "While I was crashing I thought Game Over. It was a big wreck but that's where we really got lucky. It wasn't our fault – we got hit and spun into wall. We had to change the nose but when everything was ok, I got hopeful again. That's how it is–you never give up. The day you give up you don't deserve to be here."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske): "We were unlucky but also quite fortunate today in the PPG Automotive Refinish car. We had the incident early on with (Tony) Kanaan where he was pinning me so low I had nowhere to go – at that point he's got to give me room and let me make the corner but I had no room. We damaged our car and I hurt my wrist a bit there. From then on it was really just about trying to stay out of trouble. We fought all day to make up ground and a seventh-place finish is the best we could do. I guess we're pretty lucky to finish where we did considering everyone else's accidents out there today."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen): "Unfortunate finish for what was going to be a really good race for the No. 83 Novo Nordisk car. We had really good pace all day, we were quick. The whole Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing crew did a great job with race strategy and pit stops. I just got pin balled around and got involved with some guys that weren't really driving heads up. It's disappointing, but we'll build on this because we know we have the speed to go to Edmonton and then on to Mid-Ohio."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central): "Overall, I'm very happy with the Service Central boys. We were running a great race. We just flat got taken out and it's a shame that it happened. There were a lot of wrecks today in the race, but we were looking pretty good. I tried to race Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon clean but hard there at the end and I think I did that. I gave them both opportunities to get by me and they did, unfortunately. We were running with low fuel and old tires trying to hang on. It was really frustrating to get hit there at the end, I really thought we were going to have a good finish for the Service Central team

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "It's just a really disappointing finish for the Verizon car today. My team did a great job in the pits and we were working our way back toward the front and we got past (Dario) Franchitti. We went into the corner and I gave him room and then he just drove into me. I understood he was going to get penalized but then there was no call – I just don't understand that. After that we were just trying to get the best result possible before Tag (Alex Tagliani) hit me from behind. It's very tough to have two DNFs (did not finish) in a row. All I can say is we'll keep working hard and hopefully come back strong at Edmonton."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Penske Truck Rental): "It was a tough race today. I want to apologize to my team and especially to Alex Tagliani. He and I were both driving hard, and although I tried to avoid him, we got together. I really feel bad for him and the No. 3 car guys. This place is all about staying out of trouble and I just didn't do that today. The Penske Truck Rental car was really fast and we were running a good strategy, but I made a mistake. Now we must keep fighting and improve in Edmonton."

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "I felt a big knock on the right rear, and we were up in the air. It's disappointing. We had a great car that could run up front. The team did a good job. The Bowers and Wilkins 77 car was running well. First, I got knocked out with Helio and then at the end by Danica. So, it's a shame. The contact with Will was also a shame. Will was on blacks. I tried to pass him a couple of times in turn three. He was blocking a bit, and then I made a move on the inside in turn eight and it got tight."

SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/HVM Racing, finished 10th): It was a good race. I made a huge mistake hitting the wall in Turn 3 and it put us way back and we had to pit. We were struggling with fuel. Finishing 10th is pretty good with all the things that happened. I'm really happy. The team did an awesome job. I think we could have had a stronger run, but from where we from, we struggled all weekend long, but we found it in the race. We keep improving every week, we just need to find it earlier in the weekend. But we're headed in the right direction.

E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, finished ninth): "It was a very up and down race. I started at the back and made it to the front and then I had a puncture. I pitted and then started from the back again, made it to the front and had a pretty good strategy call to put me in to second position. I then got hit by Wilson which caused another left rear puncture. This put me to the back again and then I made it back into the top-10 finishing ninth. I believe we had a pretty good car especially with the black tires, with the red tires I think we still need to work a little harder. I am sure we will fix this for Edmonton and have a good race in two weeks."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus): "I am disappointed. It was a difficult race and there was so much going on out there I just got into the back of another car. By the time we repaired my car, I was six laps down, but with the way the race was going we thought we could pick up some positions and work on some things for the other street and road course races."

TONY KANAAN (No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus): "I gave Briscoe plenty of room and he still took me out. It was too early in the race to be doing stupid moves like that. I had a good car and was moving up the field, I guess I overtook four cars in the first lap, so I was going to the front. It's a shame for the GEICO KV-Lotus guys."

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): "I have raced with Marco many times. He is an aggressive driver but he's always raced me clean. But today, I think he just had a bad sleep or something because earlier in the race at Turn 8, I'm turning in and I see him coming all locked up and I had to move or, if not, we were both going to crash. I passed him back after that and on this last restart he hit me. Listen, we all make mistakes, but I stopped at his car to ask him 'Dude what happened?' and he said "You turned in on me; I was on the inside.' I was on Justin's inside and there wasn't room for three (cars) and he punted me in the back. I'm sure when he sees the replay he will realize it was his fault. It's just unfortunately because we were in a good points position there and I thought our car was good at the end and I thought I had something for the guys in front. We like to have the Telemundo car on the screen but not because of a situation like that. It's a shame because that's going to hurt us in the points. We were doing a great job all weekend and we're going to do it again in the next race in Edmonton."

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): "I think I was literally inches away from every major crash that happened today. And I could tell right from the get-go that I had the speed for some of the guys in front of me. My mentality very quickly, once we started getting the yellows, was that the guys in front of me were going to crash and if I can just avoid getting passed that I was going to be good. I ended up getting passed a few times, but I gained a multitude of positions by being able to avoid big accidents. The National Guard guys did an awesome job in the pits today; the best pit stops we've had all year. We stayed out of trouble and got what the car was giving us. As a team we can walk away happy with this based upon how it's been going so far, and we learned a lot that we can take with us to other road and street courses moving forward. (About dodging specific crashes): "The biggest 'oh crap' moment was when Tracy hit those guys going into Turn 3, and it was full-on melee; cars' sideways going 160 mph down the back-straight, tire smoke everywhere – it was full-on 'Days of Thunder' and 'Go High, Cole' stuff. I thought I was going to have to go high around it all, but a hole opened up on the inside. There was all kinds of stuff going on, and a shot that gap on the inside, which ended up being the right call. That was about as crazy at it got for me during the event, for sure. The big one in (Turn One) the track was just blocked and the question was just if I could stop in time, and if I was going to crash or not. I could tell it wasn't going to be big either way, but it was just a matter of how much damage we're going to have on the car."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): "I got around a couple of guys on the start and restarts. We were the highest starter to choose to run on the primary Firestone tires and we had really good pace; we were out braking guys on the outside of Turn 3 and were feeling pretty good. By starting on that tire we had two different strategy options – either stop early and go for the lucky yellow or try and extend it. Our pace was good enough; we were passing guys so we decided to try and go long. At one point there we were going really quick and it worked out, we ended up coming out fifth. On that restart I got a little bit of pickup on my tires and didn't get a great start so Briscoe got by and then Paul tried to make a run on the inside of Turn 3 and I held him on the outside. He tried to push me into the wall in Turn 4 and I held my ground. Then going into Turn 5 I was perfectly alongside him and gave him as much room as I could on the outside but for some reason he thought the outside was going to work and he ended up cutting my tire so we had to come in and fell right to the back and that was a real unfortunate situation. But we've had a couple of times this year where circumstances out of our control put us at the back and we've raced our way back up and that was exactly what we were doing. We picked up guys on restarts and were passing people. We certainly benefited from some other people's misfortunes with guys getting caught up in wrecks and stuff. Then on that last restart we were up to eighth and looking at a solid top-10 finish and I guess Marco got into Oriol and Justin and I had nowhere to go. I wasn't pushing the issue, I wasn't really involved in it. I was sort of watching it unfold and try to set things up for Turn 3 because that's where we were really strong all day and just didn't have anywhere to go. It's tough to bounce back from that and get so high up again with so few laps to go and have it all fall apart. It was still a strong weekend for us. I'm happy to put a good show on for Sprott and all the fans here in Canada as well as friends and family. We'll try to rebound at the next race in Edmonton."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy): "It was just a really frustrating day. I thought we had a good race car. After we would pit for new tires, it would feel really good, but we kept getting caught out by the yellows. I have to thank the crew for working so hard all weekend."

MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Andretti Autosport): "I have to apologize to Ryan [Briscoe] for ruining his race; completely a brain fade on my part. Going into the turn, I tried to take my time and get to the inside, but it seemed to choke up a bit. There was nowhere to go. It was kind of a slow incident but it broke the left side suspension. End of a tough day for the team."

PAUL TRACY (No. 8 Make-A-Wish Dragon Racing): "Today wasn't the best day for us Canadians and our team. We had a great car and made our way through the field, making it all the way to the top-five. Unfortunately, cars got in our way and ended our day early, causing us to go two laps down for the rest of the day."



Car Driver Diff. Gap Comment
1 10 Dario Franchitti –.—- –.—- Running
2 9 Scott Dixon 0.7345 0.7345 Running
3 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 6.0144 5.2799 Running
4 26 Marco Andretti 7.5671 1.5527 Running
5 14 Vitor Meira 9.0117 1.4446 Running
6 19 Sebastien Bourdais 9.3114 0.2997 Running
7 6 Ryan Briscoe 9.8735 0.5621 Running
8 4 JR Hildebrand 14.1750 4.3015 Running
9 59 EJ Viso 14.7843 0.6093 Running
10 78 Simona de Silvestro 15.7603 0.9760 Running
11 24 Ana Beatriz 16.8992 1.1389 Running
12 2 Oriol Servia 19.8736 2.9744 Running
13 38 Graham Rahal 21.3123 1.4387 Running
14 06 James Hinchcliffe 1 LAP 1 LAP Running
15 22 Justin Wilson 2 LAPS 1 LAP Running
16 8 Paul Tracy 3 LAPS 1 LAP Running
17 3 Helio Castroneves 4 LAPS 1 LAP Running
18 18 James Jakes 2.8048 2.8048 Running
19 7 Danica Patrick 6 LAPS 2 LAPS Running
20 5 Takuma Sato 1.3186 1.3186 Running
21 83 Charlie Kimball 8 LAPS 2 LAPS Contact
22 27 Mike Conway 9 LAPS 1 LAP Contact
23 77 Alex Tagliani 14 LAPS 5 LAPS Contact
24 12 Will Power 19 LAPS 5 LAPS Contact
25 34 Sebastian Saavedra 42 LAPS 23 LAPS Contact
26 82 Tony Kanaan 83 LAPS 41 LAPS Contact

Race Statistics
Winners average speed: 76.805
Time of Race: 01:56:32.1501
Margin of victory: .7345 of a second
Cautions: 8 for 32 laps
Lead changes: 3 among 3 drivers
Lap Leaders: Power 1 – 32, Franchitti 33 – 48, Rahal 49 – 71, Franchitti 72 – 85
Point Standings: Franchitti 353, Power 298, Dixon 270, Servia 232, Kanaan 221, Briscoe 219, Andretti 216, Rahal 208, Hildebrand 193, Tagliani 173.

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