Dario Franchitti takes controversial Toronto win after collision with Will Power
|By Matt Beer||Sunday, July 10th 2011, 21:00 GMT|
Dario Franchitti led Scott Dixon in a Ganassi one-two in a typically chaotic Toronto IndyCar race - despite a collision with title rival Will Power.
Ryan Hunter-Reay completed the top three for Andretti Autosport, though an all-Ganassi podium had looked likely until Graham Rahal spun down the order in a late brush with Hunter-Reay.
The race was punctuated by a string of multi-car incidents, as the double-file restart system proved particularly messy at a track that traditionally sees mayhem.
The early laps were relatively serene, with Power leading from Dixon and Franchitti once the latter had repassed the faster starting Mike Conway's Andretti Autosport car.
Franchitti then gained an advantage by being one of several drivers to make his first pitstop just before a yellow, allowing him to assume the lead going into the middle stint while Power and Dixon dropped back just outside the top 10.
But they were back together again going into the final stint, as Power and Dixon had made good progress through the field, and Franchitti found himself back in the pack when several drivers stayed out on alternative strategies as most of the leaders pitted under a caution.
Power then got ahead of Franchitti during a restart sort-out, but as the champion tried to retaliate a handful of laps later, Power was pushed into a spin at Turn 3 - leaving the Australian absolutely furious.
Franchitti continued unscathed and having escaped any sanction, started making progress back to the front, passing Dreyer & Reinbold's Justin Wilson and then Hunter-Reay (who jumped into contention by pitting just before the yellow under which most made their final stops) to move into second behind Rahal.
Out of sequence after an early pitstop for a cut tyre, Rahal gambled on there being enough yellows to run 44 laps on his last tank of fuel. The strategy would have worked, although he did not have the speed to hold off Franchitti and Dixon, but with five laps to go a touch from Hunter-Reay sent Rahal down the order to 13th.
Hunter-Reay's team-mate Marco Andretti made it from 20th on the grid to fourth by staying out of trouble and pitting at wise times. But Andretti was also involved in a late incident that took out several major contenders, when he tipped Newman/Haas' Oriol Servia into a spin at Turn 1 that also collected potential winner Wilson, the second Newman/Haas car of James Hinchcliffe, Ganassi's Charlie Kimball and Conway.
Vitor Meira recovered from a collision with Paul Tracy to take a superb fifth for AJ Foyt, while Dale Coyne's Sebastien Bourdais claimed the best result of his American comeback so far in sixth.
Ryan Briscoe (Penske) had an early coming together with Tony Kanaan that ended the KV driver's race, then picked up a puncture, and was later punted by Conway, yet somehow made it back through to seventh.
JR Hildebrand's Panther car, KV's EJ Viso and HVM's Simona de Silvestro completed the top 10. Viso had run second for a while on a similar strategy to Rahal, until a brush with Wilson gave him a puncture.
Other clashes on an afternoon of carnage included Alex Tagliani and Helio Castroneves coming together, Canadian countrymen Hinchcliffe and Tracy colliding, Takamu Sato and Danica Patrick tangling, and Power finally retiring after being hit by Tagliani - whose own race ended shortly afterwards when he was tipped into the air in a brush with Patrick, who had just collided with James Jakes.
Results - 85 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 1h56m32.1501s 2. Scott Dixon Ganassi + 0.7345s 3. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti + 6.0144s 4. Marco Andretti Andretti + 7.5671s 5. Vitor Meira Foyt + 9.0117s 6. Sebastien Bourdais Dale Coyne + 9.3114s 7. Ryan Briscoe Penske + 9.8735s 8. JR Hildebrand Panther + 14.1750s 9. EJ Viso KV + 14.7843s 10. Simona de Silvestro HVM + 15.7603s 11. Ana Beatriz Dreyer & Reinbold + 16.8992s 12. Oriol Servia Newman/Haas + 19.8736s 13. Graham Rahal Ganassi + 21.3123s 14. James Hinchcliffe Newman/Haas + 1 lap 15. Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold + 2 laps 16. Paul Tracy Dragon + 3 laps 17. Helio Castroneves Penske + 4 laps 18. James Jakes Dale Coyne + 4 laps 19. Danica Patrick Andretti + 6 laps 20. Takuma Sato KV + 6 laps Retirements: Charlie Kimball Ganassi 77 laps Mike Conway Andretti 76 laps Alex Tagliani Sam Schmidt 71 laps Will Power Penske 66 laps Sebastian Saavedra Conquest 43 laps Tony Kanaan KV 2 laps