No shortage of controversy as rain rules IndyCar in Toronto
Helio Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during parade laps of what was supposed to be Race 1 of the Verizon IndyCar Series weekend doubleheader Saturday in Toronto.
For a race that never officially began, Saturday’s Honda Indy Toronto "2 in T.O." sure was filled with controversy.
For a two-hour, 23-minute period between the time the race was supposed to start at 3:50 p.m. ET and the time it was officially postponed by rain at 6:13 p.m., there were two red flags to stop a race that never officially started, a pace car driven by two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk that spun off the track during a Parade Lap, crashes into the wall by Ryan Briscoe and Team Penske’s Will Power and Firestone "rain tires" that were inadequate to run in the rainy conditions on the streets of Toronto.
But wait, there’s more.
Team Penske was allowed to work on Power’s Dallara/Chevrolet for longer than the 10-minute period that IndyCar officials allowed teams to work on during the red-flag period. Power’s car suffered a damaged left-front and left-rear suspension damage, which could have dealt a crippling blow to Power’s Verizon IndyCar Series championship bid.
Because Team Penske was allowed to continue to work on the car, it was fixed and "race ready" in just 23 minutes. Power and his car were wheeled back to the pit area after work was complete in the Team Penske paddock despite loud objections from several rival IndyCar Series drivers and team owners who believed it shouldn’t have been allowed.
"It’s clearly a violation of the rule," team owner Michael Andretti said. "We have the rule and we are trying to remind them in the (Race Control) booth. If this goes green we’ll have to talk about it."
The race never went green on Saturday. Instead, it was postponed until Sunday. There will be two 65-lap or 80-minute races, whichever comes first, on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m., respectively.
According to IndyCar President of Competition Derrick Walker, the starting lineup will be the same as it was entering the race. Power, who was put at the rear of the field along with Briscoe and Juan Pablo Montoya for working on their cars longer than 10 minutes, will go back to their original starting positions.
That means Power will go back to starting on the outside of the front row alongside pole winner Sebastien Bourdais. Briscoe goes back to the 10th starting position and Montoya back to 11th.
"The race had not started and when the 12 car (Power) went away it was out of the race and didn’t look like it was coming back," Walker said. "The start was called off so we had positioned it at the back of the grid. Now, it gets to start back where it qualified.
"People have to step beyond the rule book and look at the big picture. The race had never started, (there were) adverse conditions and people spinning off. We tried to get everybody back in the game. The race had not started but I understand they are all very competitive. Street races in general we take a hammering. They are always very physical and combative. Today was about the conditions. If we can get everybody out there with their wheels on and start the race we will do that for Michael Andretti just as much as we could for Will Power."
Many of the teams and drivers thought the race should have been started; that it was their responsibility to conduct a race under the wet conditions. Others believed it was best to err on the side of caution.
"There’s a difference between being brave and being stupid and we are about to cross that area," said points leader Helio Castroneves before the race finally was postponed.
IndyCar officials ultimately agreed and pulled the plug on Saturday’s race, moving it to Sunday morning at 10:35 a.m. ET.
"It’s one thing to have rain tires and rain, but when you have a lot of standing water it takes more than rain tires," Walker said. "The ground effects pulls the water out and the conditions would have been slick out there. At Toronto, the oil on the blacktop is very slippery.
"We have a very close championship going on here and we want a safe and competitive race. We had the pace car slide off the track, so I don’t think you could have come to any other conclusion."