15 July 2013
Scott Dixon celebrates a double top in Toronto
Kanaan was first man in on lap 17 to ditch the short-life soft tyres with Josef Newgarden, James Jakes and Graham Rahal following his lead seconds later. Almost half the field had pitted by lap 24 when Scott Dixon decided to come in, exiting just behind EJ Viso. Castroneves came in two laps later but was unable to get back out ahead of Dixon, and that set the pattern for the rest of the leaders' pit stops. Dixon was back on top again by lap 28 with Justin Wilson momentarily in second ahead of Castroneves as he ran a longer first stint courtesy of having started on the harder compound tyres.
Even so, fuel demanded Wilson report to pit road shortly afterward and that left Dixon over eight seconds clear of Castroneves with Power, Hunter-Reay and Bourdais ahead of EJ Viso who'd got the better of the early-stopping Kanaan in that sequence. The most interesting runner at this point was Dario Franchitti who was running off-sync as a result of his enforced lap 1 wing change which had also allowed him to switch to the prime tyres having limited the mandatory stint on the red tyres to just a solitary lap: Franchitti was up to third when he finally pitted on lap 34, and exited in 13th place just behind Marco Andretti and Josef Newgarden, both of whom he soon managed to pass.
Having gone for a three-stop strategy, Kanaan was in for his second visit to pit road on lap 35 but then overcooked it on cold tyres through the final corner on his out lap and clouted the outside wall, demolishing the right rear suspension of the #11 KV Racing car. It made him the first casualty of the race but still did not result in the first caution of the afternoon.
"I was pushing hard in the race, got a little loose and tapped the wall ending our day. I feel bad for the guys," he sighed. "I just wish we could have put on a better show for them and the fans."
Dixon's next visit to pit lane on lap 57 was also his last, and he was able to rejoin still in the lead as Castroneves had pitted a lap previously and left Dixon with a lead of nearly half a minute over Power. The rest of the leaders cycled through without incident over the next few laps, with off-sync runners Wilson, Franchitti and Charlie Kimball briefly up into the top five with their own later-than-others final stops still pending.
Once that happened, Dixon's grip on the race was absolute - now up to 15 seconds ahead of second-place Castroneves, who badly needed a caution to get back on an even footing with the Ganassi car if he was to have any hopes of battling for the lead in the final laps. But cautions were hard to come by: remarkably for Toronto, which is so often the scene of never-ending cautions, there hadn't been a single full course caution all afternoon.
That changed on lap 64 when James Jakes' #16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car got badly unsettled on the kerbing through turn 5, jolted his right hand off the wheel and caused the car to understeer off into the wall on the other side of the track.
"I just hit the kerb, and it ripped the wheel straight out of my hands," he said. "The kick-back is unbelievable in these things, and when you aren't quite dialled in with the dampers."
The replays of the incident gave rise to fears that Jakes might have injured his wrist, just as Ryan Briscoe had done the previous day in a three-car accident, but Jakes said he was fine. "My wrist is okay," he insisted. "I've seen some wrist injuries in the last few days, and hopefully we can sort that out."
The caution coincided with Dario Franchitti already in for his final pit stop with 21 laps to go to the finish, and he benefited from the safety car by blending back in sixth place ahead of EJ Viso and behind Dixon, Castroneves, Power, Hunter-Reay and Bourdais. That compared with Wilson and Kimball, who had pitted just before the yellow and who had fallen to ninth and tenth respectively as a result and who in addition were handicapped by now having to run the final stint on red-walled tyres.
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