SPEEDWAY – Controversies. Crashes. Pit lane issues and possible departures.
If you’re looking for some early fall drama, IndyCar’s got it.
A lot of them were discussed during the media session for the first of two days of Firestone Tire Testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday, one participating in by six Izod IndyCar Series regulars.
“The competition is incredible,” said Dario Franchitti of the series-thought it has gotten a little more heated over the past two races.
With the championship in sight and still ten drivers alive for it, a few major incidents have stood out to fans even more than the competition. There was the pit road incident with Will Power and Scott Dixon in Sonoma where one of the Verizon crew was hit by the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Honda machine.
Accusations of intentionally sticking out the tire towards Dixon’s car were made and eventually the driver was penalized.
There was the heated argument between Marco Andretti and team owner Roger Penske over an incident earlier in the Sonoma race-and then the drama spilled into Baltimore. Pit lane zones were more clearly marked to prevent another pit incident from occurring but the intensity continued on the track.
Power and Dixon once again had an issue as the Penske driver cut in front of the Ganassi driver, sending the No. 9 machine into the wall and further hurting his championship chase of Helio Castroneves. Though Power acknowledged fault with the incident, Dixon dropped 49 points back of Helio Castroneves for the points lead.
But 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan says increased amount of incidents comes without surprise considering the nature of the sport and it’s competition in 2013.
“It’s the end of the championship, a lot of guys are going for the championship they have to be conservative. A lot of guys are still wanting to win one race. Their contracts are up, they need to show a little bit more to try to renew so it’s been hectic,” said Kanaan of the racing. “A lot of things that happen at the racetrack, people made a bigger deal than what it was in my opinion.
“It’s just everybody is racing and racing is like that. You’re going to see controversy.”
For Franchitti the key is consistency when such incidents come up. Race director Beaux Barfield has received criticism for his decision to or not to penalize certain actions on the track, including Dixon’s drive-through penalty at Sonoma after the pit road incident that cost him a shot at the win.
“It’s gotten quite physical at times which is tough because you really don’t know what the rules are,” said Franchitti. “Looking at Baltimore, two identical incidents, one drew a penalty and one didn’t so that makes it difficult to know just how far you can push the envelope there.
“But the racing has been absolutely incredible in IndyCar both on ovals and street courses.”
Whether Kanaan will be there for all the action on both next year was another hot topic of discussion on Tuesday. The KV Racing driver doesn’t have a contract for the 2014 season and has explored the possibility of racing in other series, including with NASCAR’s Joe Gibbs Racing.
Yet the defending Indianapolis 500 champion would prefer to stay right where he’s at should that opportunity present itself.
“I am a professional race car driver. I went to Brazil, talking to people in stock car in Brazil, talking to people at Grand Am,” said Kanaan. “I said a million times that my heart’s in IndyCar and if there is a place for me here, Tony Kanaan will be here, but if not I’m going to make a decision where I’m going to go.”