By: Allan Brewer, IndyCar Correspondent
- Franchitti gets 4th win in 2011
- Dixon, Hunter-Reay finish 2nd & 3rd
- Crashes, spins highlight the race
Ganassi duo finish 1-2 in wild street race in Toronto
Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti won the Toronto Indy Grand Prix on Sunday, surviving an afternoon filled with spills and thrills all around the twisting tumult of a 1.75 mile street course. Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon finished second, only 0.7345 seconds in arrear of Franchitti. Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay took the final podium position in third.
It was a tough day, with restart after restart after restart.
“That was absolutely wild, with all the crashes,” said Franchitti. “I made the wrong choice on one of the restarts, but in the end it all worked out. I don’t like to race that like, race that close and with contact.”
Franchitti, notching his fourth IndyCar win of the year (previous firsts at the season-opener in St. Petersburg, Florida; at Texas Motor Speedway and at the Milwaukee Mile), took the lead for good on the 71st lap of 85 circuits around the urban Toronto, Ontario circuit when Team Penske’s Will Power spun while leading the race.
It was Franchitti’s third win at the Toronto course, and his 40th career open-wheel victory.
“It was a tough day, with restart after restart after restart,” said Dixon. “It looked like Power’s tires were going off there at the end. When he spun and the yellow came out, it put Dario into the lead and all we had to do was drive clean to the end.”
“It was a crazy race. That’s Toronto,” said Hunter-Reay. “I had wing damage, driving around out there at 170 mph, and I never even knew it.”
Marco Andretti finished fourth, followed by Foyt Racing’s Vitor Meira. Sebastian Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing finished sixth, just ahead of Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe. JR Hildebrand of Panther Racing improved from his 22nd place starting position to come home in the eighth spot, trailed by KV Racing Lotus EJ Viso and HVM Racing’s Simona de Silvestro.
Pole-sitter Power lost more ground to Franchitti in the championship race as he made contact with Alex Tagliani on Lap 66 and failed to finish the race. Afterwards Power referred to Tagliani as a “wanker” in an uncharacteristic show of emotion by the Australian.
The race got off to an inauspicious start with KV Racing Lotus Tony Kanaan making contact with the tire barriers barely two laps into the affair and suffering heavy left side damage to the No. 89 Lotus. Kanaan’s accident would be a harbinger of the contact to come, leading TK to tweet shortly after the race ended, “Do we all need to go back to driving school?”
Shortly thereafter KV Racing Lotus’ Takuma Sato made contact with Andretti Autosport’s Danica Patrick in Turn 3, puncturing the left rear tire of the No. 7 car and bringing the popular female driver into the pits for a change. Sato stalled his car and was saddled with a long delay in restarting.
At the halfway mark of the race the running order stood Power, Dixon, Franchitti, Conway, Rahal, Tagliani, Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe of Newman Haas Racing and Bourdais.
Yellow flew again when Tagliani went into the tire barriers, and James Jakes of Dale Coyne Racing followed with a spin and another yellow flag period.
Conquest Racing’s Sebastian Saavedra went out of the race when he put the car behind the tires in a runoff area, and a multicar incident involving Meira, Bourdais, Paul Tracy of Dragon Racing and Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball brought out yet another yellow flag.