11 July 2011
Dario wins stormy Toronto crashfest
From Dario's point of view, Power seemed to run wide into turn 3 and leave a gap down the inside which was just too tempting to pass up. By the time Franchitti realised that he'd misjudged the opportunity and tried to back out of it, it was too late and Will turned into the apex and made contact with Dario on the inside: the Penske came off worse and was thrown into a spin.
He got the engine going again and rejoined once all the cars had gone past, but it was a bitter blow for Power's title chances. And given that it had been Dario that had done the deed - seemingly deliberately in Will's eyes - he was spitting fire. "We were working our way back toward the front and we got past Franchitti. We went into the corner and I gave him room and then he just drove into me."
Word came down that the incident was being referred to the track stewards for a possible penalty for the championship leader, and for several minutes confusion reigned. The race restarted and Dario started moving his way back up the running order again, and everyone waited for him to come in and serve the stop-go penalty.
Except - there was no penalty. There never had been. When the race stewards (who included Al Unser Jr and IndyCar's Tony Cotman) reviewed the collision they determined that it was a racing accident and deemed no penalty applied after all. "I understood he was going to get penalized but then there was no call - I just don't understand that," said Power in the confused aftermath of the race.
"I'm not surprised he didn't get a penalty, he never gets a penalty," Power said in the heat of the moment. "It was such a dirty move ... I'm really disappointed in Dario, I always race him clean, he always races dirty. The guy that mouths off and whinges about everyone, he's the one who's dirty."
Unser was unmoved by Power's fury and accusations of IndyCar favouritism toward Dario, who many deemed should have been penalised at last month's Milwaukee race after hitting pit lane equipment (a front tyre laid out in Power's pit box).
"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."
Drivers always say that the one thing they want from officials is consistency, and in this case if Franchitti had been penalised for this move then why not Briscoe for the first turn 3 incident that put Kanaan out, or the accident that saw Castroneves hit Tagliani? Having taken no action on those or any of the other collisions so far, it would have been harsh and deeply inconsistent to suddenly serve one to Franchitti for an even more marginal call. But the incident did certainly leave a bad taste in everyone's mouths, and tempers were suddenly boiling over up and down pit lane.
For his part, Dario was apologetic the minute he stepped out of the car at the end of the race. "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, accepting that when it came to assigning blame "I'll take more than 50%" but that Power was not exactly blame-free in the accident either, having opened the door initially.
"I braked as late as I could, and he went a little bit deeper but as a result of that he went wide," he explained. "Will started to crowd me, and unfortunately the wall came out, I couldn't get further to the right because there was a wall there ... I tried to get out of it but I couldn't.
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