Of the 26 IZOD IndyCar Series drivers that started Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto at Exhibition Place in Edmonton, Toronto, 24 had some kind of altercation with another driver during the 85-lap race on the bumpy and narrow 1.755-mile street course.
Count Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver Alex Tagliani in that group of 24.
The Canadian driver was knocked out of the race on lap 71 when the car driven by Andretti Autosport’s Danica Patrick made contact with Tagliani’s No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Honda/Dallara/Firestone car in turn three. The contact resulted in the race’s scariest accident and forced Tagliani to finish 23rd.
The force of the impact launched Tagliani’s car onto its left side wheels and then into the temporary wall and catch fencing while still on two wheels before slamming back to the pavement. Tagliani climbed from the car uninjured.
“I felt a big knock on the right rear, and we were up in the air,” said Tagliani after returning to his pit box after the accident. “It’s disappointing. We had a great car that could run up front. The team did a good job. The Bowers and Wilkins 77 car was running well. First, I got knocked out with Helio (Castroneves) and then at the end by Danica. So, it’s a shame.”
Tagliani’s incident with Castroneves on lap 20 set the tone for the rest of the race for so many of the teams. Castroneves, in an effort to pass Tagliani, shoved him into a spin. It was a move seen time and time again in the 85-lap race.
Before IndyCar series safety crews could get him underway again, Tagliani went down a lap to the entire field. With no damage to the car and good pit strategy by the Sam Schmidt Team, Tagliani pushed his car back onto the lead lap when he passed race leader Graham Rahal on a lap 52 restart.
After a short pit stop for tires and fuel, Tagliani worked his way up to 14th. Then, in a battle with Team Penske’s Will Power, the pair made contact in turn five that resulted in Power’s car slamming the tire barriers and knocking him out of the race.
“The contact with Will was also a shame,” said Tagliani. “Will was on blacks. I tried to pass him a couple of times in turn three. He was blocking a bit, and then I made a move on the inside and it got tight.”
After fighting back from one-lap down, it appeared Tagliani was poised to make a run at a top-10 finish until the accident with Patrick ended his chances.
Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti stretched his point lead (353-295) over Will Power by winning the Honda Indy Toronto. Franchitti’s teammate Scott Dixon finished third in the race and sits third in the championship as well. Andretti Autosport teammates Ryan Hunger-Reay and Marco Andretti finished third and fourth, while Foyt Racing’s Vitor Meira rounded out the top five.
There were eight caution periods for a total of 32 yellow flag laps. There were also three lead changes with Will Power leading the most laps (32).
With nine of the 17 races complete, Tagliani remains in 10th in the championship standings with 173points.
The next IZOD IndyCar Series event is the Edmonton Indy at the Edmonton City Centre Airport in Edmonton on Sunday, July 24. The race broadcast starts at 2 p.m. ET with TV coverage provided by Versus.
Date: July 10, 2011
Event: Honda Indy Toronto (Round 9 of 17)
Series: IZOD IndyCar Series
Location: Exhibition Place in Toronto, Ontario (1.755-mile street course)
Start/Finish: 9th/23rd (Accident, completed 71 of 85 laps)
Winner: Dario Franchitti of Ganassi Racing