Following a stellar display at Iowa Speedway two weeks ago, the IZOD IndyCar Series dropped the ball in Toronto yesterday evening.
The race – eventually won by Dario Franchitti – was a fractured affair, peppered with numerous silly accidents that left several drivers fuming after the event, none more vocal than Penske’s Will Power.
When compared to the wheel-to-wheel talents displayed on the 7/8th’s of-a-mile oval in Iowa, it was truly difficult to comprehend how low the quality of competition had sunk.
This was compounded by a toothless race control who seemingly refused to bark, let alone bite. Despite the repeated avoidable incidents that took a number of drivers out of contention, race control at no point put their foot down, showcasing a shocking vision of weakness.
Whether it was Takuma Sato ramming Danica Patrick, Ryan Briscoe taking out Tony Kanaan, Briscoe himself being removed by Mike Conway, Paul Tracy powering into Vitor Meira, Ryan Hunter-Reay spinning Graham Rahal around or – most controversially – Dario Franchitti turning Will Power around and then later getting hit by Alex Tagliani, amateur hour reigned on the streets of Toronto.
A furious Power later commented:
“It doesn’t surprise me that he [Dario] didn’t get a penalty, because he never gets penalised, it’s pretty typical. It was a pretty dirty move. He just turned me around. Does anyone ever penalise this guy? I left the inside open on the brakes. I always race him clean, and he always races me dirty. He did the same at St Pete, though I didn’t say anything, and he did the same today. The guy that mouths off about everyone and whinges about everyone, and he’s the guy who races the most dirty, never gets a penalty from IndyCar. It’s just not right.”
Justin Wilson also received a few dents in his Dreyer and Reinbold machine. A late-race accident instigated by Marco Andretti, saw Wilson connect with Oriol Servia and several other participants. It left the Englishman feeling rather jaded after the race.
“It’s really disappointing. Oriol Servia and myself were racing hard and gave each other room and somebody else [Andretti] stuck their nose in there and pitched Oriol up into the air and took out five cars. It’s really frustrating when you are that close to the end to have your day, that was a pretty decent day, be ruined by some bad driving.”
IndyCar is working very hard to rebuild a battered reputation that has resulted in derisory television viewing figures, that continue to worry the series and its participants greatly and races like this do not help.
A post-race tweet from Tony Kanaan pondered whether the drivers need to learn how to drive again. One also wonders if race control need to relearn how to officiate and handle drivers, such was their shockingly poor display.
As a sidenote, in the pre-race show, co-commentator Jon Beekhuis tended the “no-blocking” rule came about because of Jeff Krosnoff”s fatal accident at the Toronto circuit in 1996.
Beekhuis is normally excellent as a technical back-up in the booth, but this was just a shocking rewrite of history. Krosnoff’s accident was simply that – a tragic, tragic accident, but it was not down to blocking.
In the incident, several car cars piled nto turn three and ran out of room, lifting Krosnoff into the air where the 31-year-old hit an exposed lamp post. Track marshal Gary Avrin was also killed in the accident.
That the producer’s saw fit to use this sad incident as an excuse for the “no-blocking” rule – a sporting regulation not added until several years later – was very poor form on their part and a sad realignment of history to suit the agenda of their piece.