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Tough in Toronto

July 17, 2013

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Toronto’s front straight ends at Princes Gate – IndyCar photo

Pissed? Oh yeah I was pissed when INDYCAR did that Marty McFly thing last Saturday during the first Honda Indy Toronto #@2inTO race at Exhibition Place.

First of all, I didn’t like the fact that teams couldn’t do real standing start  practice, aside from a designated spot at the top end of the pits for a one-time-by. First you work the glitches out; then you hold the party.

That wasn’t done and poor Josef Newgarden, a man in search of the good luck angel, had “no mas” sensors that left him stranded on the grid,. This situation could have been handled with more practice. The teams would have been happy with it and so would the fans, who could have gotten, on Saturday, what Sunday’s crowd got, a proper and well executed standing start.

But nooooo!

Coupled with race director Beaux Barfield’s absence due to  inexplicable customs problems – as he had last year – the first race, a really good and competitive affair, turned into a Race Control Event, not a race. And this was no time for a “Back to the Future” moment, friends.
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Even as he hammed the kerbs, Scott Dixon didn’t put a wheel wrong – IndyCar photo

Of course the weekend belonged to Scott Dixon, whose 8-day streak of three wins at Pocono and the Toronto doubleheader was the talk of the town. That and the resurgence of his Target Chip Ganassi Racing team (teammate Franchitti won the second race’s pole and was third in the first race) and Honda’s signs of life put the skids on Andretti Autosport’s claim to dominance this year.

But the politics prevailed. We all have seen the video, read a million tweets (and written a few) about what happened between Dario Franchitti and Will Power (and what didn’t) after that Saturday race. And Sunday provided us with another set of Twitter bellows in the second race, with Dario’s change from alternate to primary Firestone rubber after inducing a flat on the first lap (he admitted). There are specific tire rules for doubleheaders; they were followed.
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Derrick Walker has a lot on his plate – IndyCar photo

Luckily, the new sheriff in town, Derrick Walker, helped by added camera angle video availability and data from the car, handled the 25-second penalty on Saturday and the rules took care of the naysayers on Sunday.

Whatever you want to say about IZOD IndyCar Series racing, the product on the track has been excellent and, for the past year and a half, race control has not been a major factor. That it was this past weekend in Toronto is a less-than-gentle reminder to the Powers That Be to allow the series to move forward, not regress.

As long as Walker continues to address issues by being up front and both willing and able to discuss the charges and changes being made in race control, the folks that govern Indy car racing will, once again, fade into the background.

Once Barfield is back in the catbird seat and the series moves along to Mid-Ohio, Sonoma and Baltimore for more traditional meetings (no standing starts, no doubleheaders), most likely we’ll all get back to watching some magnificent examples of motor sport and wonder who’s going to win the championship this year.

It’s time to move on from #2InTO and all of its controversies – I know I have.

By Anne Proffit

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