After their well-publicised clash on-track at Toronto and Will Power's furious criticism of the "dirty" Dario Franchitti afterwards, it looked like the reconciliation process had begun during a controversy-free outing at Edmonton.

However, some people wondered what would have happened at Edmonton if Power had found himself immediately behind Franchitti at any point in the race and been tempted to administer a little payback. Come the start of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and we were about to find out, as Power started alongside Franchitti on the second row of the grid. Would everyone play nice, or would there be contact?

The in-car TV footage soon had the answer as the cars went through turn 5 for the first time: Power's #12 made hefty contact with the left rear wheel of the Ganassi #10 and for a second it looked as though it might be enough to send Franchitti spinning, but the Scot managed to hold it together.

"He hit me twice on the first lap," Franchitti told TV reporters after the race. "Pretty hard actually, going into turn 5. He didn't get me all the way around but he had a good try at it."

"I was just trying to get past him at the start," insisted Power. "He went around the outside and I think I hit his back wheel," he said, insisting that it was "sort of similar to Toronto" - implying that if Franchitti got away with that one, then Power was equally entitled to this move as well.

However, all it did in many observers' minds was to suggest that Power knew exactly what he was doing this week and was intentionally trying to spin Franchitti in payback for the harm that was done to him in Canada.

The two continued to run together for much of the first part of the race, but there were no further incidents between them as the race settled down into a more processional affair, and they were broken up by the first round of pit stops that followed Sebastian Saavedra's accident on lap 22.

In the end, Franchitti would come in second to his Ganassi team mate Scott Dixon - but crucially, unfortunate timing for his second pit stop left Will Power well down the field after a second caution for a beached Graham Rahal came at just the wrong moment for the Penske team. He finished in 14th place at the chequered flag, which could make a crucial difference in the points battle for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar championship title fight.

"Good points day for us, despite Will's best efforts at the start there to spin me around," Dario said pointedly immediately after getting out of the car. However, he was more conciliatory at the later post-race winners' press conference.

"We went into turn 1 pretty close together, the first two rows, and then Will got up into my left rear into turn 5 there and got me sideways but luckily I was able to keep it going," he said. "I haven't seen it, I don't know if he understeered up into me or what, but I think he got under me twice there. So, you know, he didn't spin us. I managed to keep the thing going straight. That's what happens when you're in those positions when you're so close together.

"I think I was definitely trying to make a run around the outside," he continued. "I think he was trying to stay on the inside and we had contact. So maybe knocked a toe out of alignment a little bit but apart from that no big deal."

The Toronto clash is obviously the most immediate flashpoint between the two, but it increasingly appears that Power's resentments toward Franchitti run a lot deeper, as he bristles at every added indication that Dario enjoys some sort of special relationship with the IndyCar organisers and now with the Mid-Ohio track owners (Kim Green and Kevin Savoree, who were co-owners at Andretti-Green Racing when Franchitti raced for them.)

For Power, evidence for this emerged in how the organisers jumped into action as soon as Dario brought up safety matters. Franchitti had criticised the track at turn 1 after his compatriot Justin Wilson suffered a compression fracture in his back during Saturday morning practice, and sure enough overnight the section of the track was worked on - fortunately for stand-in driver Simon Pagenaud, who pretty much replicated Wilson's mistake during the race itself.

Previously, Franchitti had called for the kerbing in turn 4 to be painted to improve visibility and safety. Sure enough, it was done. It wasn't even down to whether the changes really were necessary for safety (they probably were): from Power's vantage point, it's further evidence that what Dario wants, Dario gets. The fact that IndyCar organisers last week levied probations against three other drivers but still said nothing about Franchitti's move on him at Toronto was just the icing on the cake as far as proof went for Will.

The real problem for Power is that Franchitti seems so much better at managing the mindgames and politics at work here - he shrugged off the contact at the start of Sunday's race and made no counterattacks, and afterwards - save for his one jab about Power having "a good try" at spinning him, was able to resume a more diplomatic stance moments later.

Power by contrast looked as down and disconsolate as anyone can every remember seeing the likeable, energetic and enthusiastic Australian. When asked whether turn 5 was the template for how he would treat Dario from here on in, Will had replied "Nah, I'm just racing, that's all" - and perhaps that's the best advice he should take for himself from Mid-Ohio.


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