Random Thoughts On Toronto
Sometimes in football, a team will gut out an “ugly” win. In doing so, the winning team doesn’t do anything real spectacular and incurs some mishap and misfortune along the way, but somehow finds a way to win. Overall, I would say that the 2010 version of the Honda Indy Toronto would qualify as an ugly race. It was certainly entertaining, mind you. In fact, it was one of the more entertaining versions of this race that I can remember. But so far as being a clinic on the art of street racing, this would not be a great example.
There was so much carnage in this race, that it was almost a multi-turn open-wheel version of Bristol Motor Speedway. Unlike most people in my home state, I’ve always found racing at Bristol a little hard to watch. There is never any rhythm to the race. That was the problem with Toronto.
Shortly after Milka Duno was mercifully parked on lap ten, the attrition started. Maybe all the drivers let their guard down when they saw the CITGO car pull into the pits. Whatever the case, it began when teammates Mario Moraes and Takuma Sato added to the ever-growing repair bill at KV Racing Technologies. Sato didn’t look happy with his teammate, but Moraes was just getting started as he would end up bouncing between several cars before finally being penalized.
Vitor Meira’s brake issues had an impact on several drivers – most notably Helio Castroneves. Helio misjudged Meira’s early braking point and ran up Meira’s left rear, launching him into the concrete barrier first before Helio helplessly plowed into the tire barriers without the aid of any brakes. Although Helio was quick to lay blame at Meira’s braking zone, it’s miscalculations like this that might explain Helio’s lack of a championship in Helio’s eleventh year at Team Penske.
This was the type of day it was – some unexpected twists and turns, even at the front of the field; as evidenced by Justin Wilson spinning late in the race while running in second. He would recover enough to finish seventh. Tomas Scheckter had been silent throughout most of the day. Perhaps he felt the need to get his sponsor, Mona Vie, some airtime, because with twelve laps to go, he tried a banzai move on Alex Tagliani that didn’t work out. Both drivers found the tire barriers but would continue – albeit a lap down.
The most exciting part of the day was the last round of pit stops. With Dario Franchitti leading and Will Power and Justin Wilson not far behind, the three caught slower traffic. Franchitti darted into the pits as soon as he was inside his pit window, the other two stayed out one more lap. When they pitted, Wilson barely beat Power out of the pits – but they both came out just ahead of Franchitti. While it seemed Power couldn’t quite get up to speed and was holding up Franchitti; Wilson checked out and left them both behind. Only another troublesome caution could slow Wilson down. It did. Power got Wilson on the re-start, Wilson spun a few laps later and Will Power ran off for another win.
Good day for Andretti Autosport: All four Andretti Autosport drivers improved their positions to finish higher than their starting spots. Danica Patrick improved six spots in a solid performance to finish sixth. Ryan Hunter-Reay moved up one spot to finish third. Tony Kanaan finished a steady fourth after starting eighth and Marco Andretti moved up from tenth to eighth. This was a vast improvement over the team’s performance at Toronto a year ago – on the very track that team owner Michael Andretti seemed to own as well, racking up seven victories at Exhibition Place in his CART career.
KV woes continue: I continue to marvel at the amount of patience and disposable income of team owner Kevin Kalkhoven. Both must be close to running out, as KV Racing Technologies encountered their nineteenth and twentieth crash of the season on Sunday. With seven races to go, they could be facing an historic repair bill by season’s end. Moraes drove like he was blindfolded, as he continued to bounce his way through traffic. Sato has made his share of mistakes, but was a victim of Moraes on Sunday. Through no fault of his own, EJ Viso got caught up with Raphael Matos. Before that, Viso was having a relatively calm day.
Quote of the day: You had to love the genuine emotion displayed by Will Power in his victory lane interview. At first, it was the obligatory thanking the team and blah, blah, blah. Then out of nowhere, with a big smile on his face; he busted out with "Man, I just love winning!". It’s rare and refreshing to see such true excitement come out of most of today’s buttoned-down drivers.
Goodbye ABC: I traveled this weekend to visit my mother for her birthday. The local ABC affiliate where she lives, chose to pre-empt the pre-race show in order to show the weekly telecast from the local First Baptist Church. So if there were any infamous moments during the pre-race show, I missed them. Grrrrr!!!!
Without watching the replay, I don’t recall any major gaffes with the telecast. There was a slight mix-up with the pit reporters on their useless “up to speed” segment; but other than that, I thought it was a fairly clean telecast for Marty Reid and company.
For the hard-core race viewer, the good news is that the remaining races of the IZOD IndyCar Season are all on Versus. The production value is immeasurably better than that of ABC/ESPN and there is no chance of any part of the telecast being missed for local weather issues or being purposely pre-empted as my telecast was…that is, providing that you can actually get Versus. Of course, the downside is that this was the last good chance for the series to pick up the coveted casual fan from a major network. It will be an interesting offseason to see what Randy Bernard might be able to do to offset this problem.
All in all: It was an entertaining race. Will Power was his usual self, but the rest of Team Penske did nothing to improve their seasons. Ryan Briscoe has struggled the majority of the season, except for his lone win at Texas. So far, it looks as if Helio Castroneves is continuing his pattern of fading in the second half of the season with his usual combination of unforced errors and uninspired drives. With increased rumors that lack of sponsorship may force Roger Penske to scale back to two cars, this is a trend that Helio would do well to reverse.
As I’ve said before, Toronto is not my personal favorite, but I found this race to be enjoyable and exciting – even if it was ugly at times.