8 August 2011
Power and Franchitti clash again at Mid-Ohio
Hopes that hostilities between Dario Franchitti and Will Power had ceased after their on-track clash at Toronto seemed dashed as the two exchanged contact and words at Mid-Ohio.
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.
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