11 July 2011
Recriminations fly after Toronto
The action on track on the streets of Toronto during Sunday afternoon was spectacular and fierce enough, but it paled next to the verbal fall-out that followed.
Safe to say that Will Power is not a happy man this morning.
The normally laid-back Australian was incandescent after his hopes of a good race in the Honda Indy Toronto ended with two collisions - one with his main title rival Dario Franchitti that punted him into a spin through turn 3 that all but wrecked his hopes of a win, and the second with Alex Tagliani that put paid to hopes of any sort of finish whatsoever.
It was Dario to whom he directed most of his anger, however.
"I've always raced him clean and he always races me dirty," Power told TV reporters the minute he was out of the car. "He did the same at St. Pete: he drove me into the wall and I didn't say anything. He did it again today.
"Does anyone ever penalise this guy? He's as dirty as you like," he went on. "It was such a dirty move ... He's the guy that mouths off about everyone and whines about everyone, and he's the guy racing dirty who never gets a penalty from IndyCar. It's just not right.
"I'm not surprised he didn't get a penalty, he never gets a penalty," he vented. "IndyCar won't penalize them because Chip Ganassi goes up there and gives it to them. It's just wrong."
For his part, Chip Ganassi - the car owner of Franchitti's #10 - denied that he'd known about any penalty, made any protests or taken any action to have one overturned.
Rumour and misinformation about the penalty-that-never-was was the fuel to the fire raging in pit lane. With TV broadcasts and IndyCar's official Twitter feed both reporting that Franchitti had been handed a stop-go penalty for spinning Power on lap 57, the news that he hadn't gave the impression that the team had successfully appealed to have it reversed - which would have been all-but unprecedented if it had been the case.
Trouble is, it was based on a misapprehension. There was no penalty and never had been, and the media sources had jumped the gun when they had heard that the stewards (who included driving legend Al Unser Jr and IndyCar official Tony Cotman) were simply reviewing the incident - after which they duly concluded that no penalty was needed for what they deemed a racing incident.
"Between Franchitti and Power, there was never a penalised issue to either driver," Unser pointed out. "Franchitti was underneath Will, and there was no penalty assessed to him based on what we saw."
Franchitti had obviously been briefed over the ream radio about the raging controversy as he made his way to victory lane, and was immediately conciliatory: "Obviously, there was contact with Will. If he's p*ssed off, he's quite right to be p*ssed off," he said in typically robust language. "I'll take more than 50% ... But he has to take at least 50% of the blame. He left me a lane and then he came down," he said, adding: "It was like he opened the door for me to pass and then closed it - too late.
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