LiveBlog: Toronto 2009

Posted by Iannucci | 7/12/2009 | 33 comments »
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Welcome to Canada, where for the first time ever the IndyCar series takes to the streets of Toronto. Justin Wilson will try to win back-to-back races, Penske and Ganassi will try to make up for not winning a race in 2009, and Alex Tagliani will just try to get on the telecast.

For those unfamiliar with the capital of Ontario, Toronto is Home to the storied Maple Leafs professional hockey team as well as the Hockey Hall of Fame. The Maple Leafs though are worth mentioning because they haven't won the NHL's Stanley Cup since 1967, a fact I mention with brutal honesty because a certain Canadian is trying to take my own futile NHL franchise. Two minutes for Instigating, Mr Balsillie.

As for the racing, today's drivers to watch will be Graham Rahal (starting 3rd) and Robert Doornbos (7th). The N/H/L team has won seven previous times with 16 podiums in 23 races in Toronto, and with stats like that I'm starting to doubt my picks in the TSO Fantasy League.

At any rate, it's time to start.

0: Holy plateful of poutine, it looks like the entire population of Canada has signed Paul Tracy's uniform.

0: Will Power in the house, starting 2nd in that very fetching yellow and blue machine.

0: Helio was pretty upset during qualifying, feeling like Scott Dixon held him up. "I'm like, dude! Keep going!" Helio, channeling his inner Keanu Reeves, will start back in 10th today.

0: Get your red tires and blue tires ready, because we're about get this party started Canadian style.

1: We are GREEN! Just as the flag waves Will Power pulls of into the runoff. After about a minute the broadcast team realizes one of the drivers in the front row is missing. Send out recon!

2: Vince Welch FINALLY says Will got a cut tire for some other car. Has to pit so he'll drop to the back. Worst part is Will just got one lap out of a precious set of Red tires.

3: Leaders are Dario, Tagliani(!), Doornbos, Dixon, Conway. Graham Rahal had to pit as well with nose damage. Wanna guess who hit Will Power?

7: Seven of 85 laps down and we are lock stepping all over the place.

8: YELLOW! Dan Wheldon has spun and is stalled on the track. Tried to share the space with Richard Antinucci and that never works out. Wheldon's car is a different shade of camouflage this weekend, a color scheme I will call "Vomitoria".

9: Speaking of color schemes, Mike Conway is in blue with green trim this weekend. Ed Carpenter is in a grey and orange livery, Tony Kanaan is in baby blue and white, and Marco is in black with blue trim. Ironically, Dario Franchitti is actually in a red Target car.

12: Back to green, and within a few turns Scott Dixon has gotten around Doorknobs for third.

12: ...and back to YELLOW as Ed Carpenter has spun on the course. Oh, this is going to be a long day.

13: How shall we pass the time today? I know - I'll pass along some "1st draft movie lines" from the amazing Ken Tremndous, formerly of "Fire Joe Morgan" fame.

14: "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. Are you interested in taking a free stress test?"

15: Back to GREEN, and when you weren't looking Paul Tracy is up to sixth.

15: Both Conway and Tracy go around Doorknobs. Maybe this won't be another epic day for N/H/L after all.

16: "Life is like a box of random objects, varying in size, shape, and material. You never know what you're going to get."

17: Justin Wilson has vanished to 13th. Ryan Briscoe is back in 18th. At a street race? My reality is altered.

18: "I could've been somebody. I could've been a contender. Instead of a nurse practitioner, which is what I am."

19: I bet Will Power is having some great battling for position right now while we watch the leaders go round and round. Guess I'll never know.

21: "1.21 jiggawatts?! The only thing that could create that much energy would be...the power of dance."

22: Dario Franchitti has pulled ahead by over 3 seconds over Alex Tagliani.

23: "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was when he put a handkerchief in his fist and he opened it and it was gone."

24: Vince tells us "Tomas says the car has had a very sensitive rear end". Don't we all?

25: Pit stops starting for race leaders. Dario first, and OOPSIE! It's the rerutn of the Ganassi Pit Circus. A problem with the right-rear tire costs him a few extra seconds.

26: I guess the other leaders are staying out. Tagliani leads! Dixon, Conway, Tracy and Moraes follow along. Meanwhile, Ed Carpenter has gone off course and once again will require assistance.

30: Dixon peels off for a standard pit servicing. Taglinai and Tracy - two Canadians - are now battling for the lead in Toronto. Is David Stern running the IRL now?

31: Will Power is up to 10th. Would have been nice to see how that happened.

32: Tracy pits. No issues.

33: Tracy back on the track, battling Mick Conway. ISSUES! Tracy gets around Mike but Conway appears to have a tire go down and BAM he slaps the wall hard. It's just not an IndyCar race unless Mike Conway's car gets up close and personal with the wall. No caution flag as Conway's car limps back towards the pits.

34: Tagliani finally pits. Leaders are now Moraes, Scheckter, Matos, Helio, Power. Power is back up to 5th and we haven't seen a single bit of it.

39: Joe Jonas pits. Tomas Scheckter leads on a street course. Really? Maybe there's something to that MonaVie stuff after all.

41: Will Power is up to third and HOORAY we get to watch him racing.

42: Scheckter pits. Revolving race leadership is now Helio, Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tagliani, Wilson. I'm so confused.

43: Will Power peels off. BAD pit stop as the air gun gets stuck to the front-right tire. So much for Penske Perfect.

46: Marty says "We've learned that Richard Antinucci's car has been taken behind the wall". Sounds like they're going to put it down. About time.

47: Danica "foot cam".

48: Helio pits and hands the lead back to Alex Tagliani. Alex, Tracy, Dixon, Moraes, Dario now lead the way.

55: Battle for fourth shown. Televised contest for position - what a concept. Dario is all up on Moraes and...they cut away. Is there a rule that we're not allowed to see any actual passing?

57: Paul Tracy pits for the last time today, getting a fresh set of Reds.

59: YELLOW! Rahal in the ray-wall. Looks like this time it might be Ed Carpenter's fault, as the grey and orange car let two cars by but probably didn't see the third (Graham).

59: Dario was in the pits when the yellow came out but he's okey doke. Still gets to make his stop without having to drive through and come back again. I thought that was a no-no, but perhaps these rules are open to interpretation.

60: Everyone's going to make their final pit stops - except Dario, Tracy and maybe some others.

63: Back to green, and Helio is you leader with Dario and Tracy right behind him.

63: Passing! Danica around Hideki Mutoh. Then a few more around Mutoh. Even the now notorious Ed Carpenter.

65: Dario around Helio in a televised pass for the lead! Excuse me - I need to take a drink.

66: Drama alert! Tracy tries to get around Helio for second. Pulls alongside Helio going two-wide through the turns, they touch, then BAM Helio puts Paul into the wall! Day OVER! Oh, of all the people to take out Paul...

66: Helio pulls to the pits, gets out of his car, and get some serious catcalls and booing from the Canadian crowd.

67: Helio says "Honestly, I need to see the replay. He would be the last guy I'd want to take out in Canada." Apologizes to Canadian fans. Replay looks a lot like Helio squeezed him into the wall after they bumped tires.

68: Paul calmly says "I think it was a racing deal." Is it wrong that I was hoping for a little animosity leading to an epic throwdown? If it is, please forgive me.

69: Leaders are Dario, Briscoe, Wilson, Power. I think I have these four on my TSO fantasy team this week, so bully for me!

70: Back to green and Tony Kanaan has damage from some incident we may never see. Looks like it might be the end of the day for him as his car rolls towards the pits.

71: Will Power, Street Thug, goes around Wilson for third. They need to play the theme from "Jaws" whenever they show Will today.

72: Mario Moraes punts EJ Viso into the tire barrier for a local yellow. Ed Carpenter would be glad to learn it's now officially an IndyCar race.

74: YELLOW as there's a parking lot in Turn three. Scheckter, Tags and Moraes tried to go three wide on a street course, and that NEVER works. No violent contact but ther might be some damage to Scheckters front from tapping the tire barrier.

75: Tagliani has a broken front wing. Tomas stands on the track and unleashes the patented Scheckter glove throw at Alex as he goes by. I think Scheckter wants to shove that wing up Tagliani's backside right about now.

77: Dario, Briscoe, Power, Wilson, Dixon lead the field towards conclusion.

78: Marty Reid just confused Tagliani's white car with Viso's dark grey car. Can we get a sobriety test in the broadcast booth?

79: Dixon around Justin Wilson for fourth. Now he's closing in on Will Power.

80: Scheckter says Alex mad a "non-brain move" when he punted him in that three-wide accident. That's a new one.

81: Unless Dixon can get around Power we may be done with passing.

83: One last one from Ken Tremendous: "You take the blue pill, you wake up and believe whatever... No -- wait, that's the red pill. I think. S**t. Let me call my guy."

84: White flag for Dario. Ganassi, Penske, Penske, Ganassi - even on a street course.

85: Checkers for Dario for his second win on a street course this year! And now...cue the Ashley Judd hat cam!

This week with Ashley: "I'm a bit of a texting fiend...went to the port-a-potty...whatever is gonna happen is gonna happen...he loves to work special to win in Canada...more podiums than Montoya (in 1999)...a win is huge." There's no other moment in sports comparable with a post race interview with Ashley.

HOLY BLOOD-THIRSTY VENGEANCE, BATMAN! Replay shows after the race Moraes pulling alongside EJ Viso and colliding with him, wrecking both cars. Double-U-Tee-Eff, Mario?

Mario says: "I was trying to overtake Viso and he was blocking everyone on the track...he broke my front wing...after the checkered flag he saw me, closed the door, broke my car."

EJ says: "He just hit me once and I got a puncture...didn't respect my line and he just hit me...the second one was the most idiot one...I was opening my visor I was drinking water ant he hit me in the back. I don't know what he was thinking about, I don't know if he didn't see the checkered flag or what...he needs to go to the doctor's."

After further review, that's ALL on Mario. In car camera shows EJ had lifted his visor right before Mario drilled him. I can't believe EJ was thinking about any shenanigans at that point. Time to send Mario to the corner of the Pagoda and make him keep his nose to the wall for a few hours.

Helio v Tracy, Scheckter v Tagliani, Moraes v Viso - what's with all the rage today? Two words: Blame Canada. Try to drive home sefely folks, especially if you're near the streets of fury in Toronto.

Congrats to Dario and all the other competitors who managed to not make any enemies today, especially Ryan Briscoe who finishes second YET AGAIN. He's as predictable as the sun rising. Should be one giant lovefest for the next race in Edmonton. Thank you all very much (especially the folks who are already lighting up the Comments section) and good night!


  1. Unknown // July 12, 2009 10:19 AM  

    Just watched Rahal rear-end Power even before the start. Yikes.

  2. andy // July 12, 2009 10:57 AM  

    Good lord, my cat even saw Conway swiped the barrier and ABC wonder out loud "now, how did that happen?"

  3. phatmogera // July 12, 2009 10:58 AM  

    Are the commentators even watching the race???

  4. Tom G. // July 12, 2009 11:01 AM  


    Paul Tracy hard charging to the front around Dixon, let's cut to a pit stop.

    Conway into the wall, hmm... must have been a hot mama walking past the booth.

    Honestly, we could have Jenkins watching from home and commenting and it would be 100% better coverage.

  5. Dale Nixon // July 12, 2009 11:21 AM  

    Is it too early to call Graham Rahal the new Marco?

  6. phatmogera // July 12, 2009 11:31 AM  

    Holy crap! I haven't seen that many marbles since Animal House.

  7. andy // July 12, 2009 11:34 AM  

    Red/white cars all at the front. At least one of them is PT.

  8. phatmogera // July 12, 2009 11:35 AM  

    The king of blocking vs the king of hard passing, it had to happen.

  9. phatmogera // July 12, 2009 11:37 AM  

    If Hate is Good...Toronto is great!!!

  10. H. B. Donnelly // July 12, 2009 11:37 AM  

    god, i love the canadian fans. BOOOOO, EH?!

  11. Tom G. // July 12, 2009 11:43 AM  

    Booing Helio is like booing Santa.

    Got to love it.

  12. andy // July 12, 2009 11:45 AM  

    Hmm... PT didn't quite have the corner, but Helio should have seen it coming and give room to avoid the inevitable (just like Justin and Danica (almost) did!)

  13. Robert A. Black // July 12, 2009 11:47 AM  

    Once upon a time, in the good ol' days of the IRL, the series was known for close racing, unpredictable outcomes and the little guy having a fighting chance to win. What does it say when those things are now true only on the road courses?

  14. andy // July 12, 2009 11:49 AM  

    Was that just a Moraes crash that wasn't his fault??

  15. phatmogera // July 12, 2009 11:50 AM  

    Scheckter throws his gloves. That makes me sooooo happy!!!!

  16. Dale Nixon // July 12, 2009 11:51 AM  

    At this point, I'd rather see Marty Roth and Mike Conway next to me heading into Turn 1 at Indy than be forced to endure another minute of Marty "Can't" Reid and Scott Badyear.

    Is there anywhere to get a "I Watch My Indycar Races Only On Versus" t-shirt?

  17. Tom G. // July 12, 2009 11:52 AM  

    Moraes, the new Viso...

    Is it wrong of me to be happy for another stinking yellow?

    Power has had the drive the of race. This guy deserves to win. He is laying it all out there. ANy chance he'll get Briscoe or Franchitti on the restart?

  18. Tom G. // July 12, 2009 11:53 AM  

    Is "holding station" like holding your liquor?

  19. andy // July 12, 2009 11:59 AM  

    ..and out of all of this we've ended up with a Penske/Ganassi top 4. Normal service is resumed...

  20. will overhead // July 12, 2009 12:06 PM  

    the return of the lampshade

  21. Leigh O'Gorman // July 12, 2009 12:14 PM  

    moraes and viso crash after the flag - genius, just genius

  22. Demond Sanders // July 12, 2009 12:41 PM  

    Okay.. WTF happened with Dario in the pits? They didn't offer an explanation on the radio call. Everyone of TF seems to think BB gave PT's spot to Dario. Anyone catch this absurdity?

    (Fun race, though.)

  23. VTyson08 // July 12, 2009 12:47 PM  

    I want to hear more about Dario's free pit stop. So he got in before the yellow, okay, no problem...but HOW THE HECK does he get his spot back around Tracy??? Regardless of Tracy's crash, it's still some Brian Barnhart Bull Crap that MAY have given Dario the race.

    And I swear I heard Marty use the term "Aerial Helicopter." Really? As opposed to their underground helicopter??

  24. Demond Sanders // July 12, 2009 12:57 PM  

    The more I think about it, the less sense it makes. You get to pit when the pits are closed AND you don't lose positions? What?

  25. Mike R // July 12, 2009 1:17 PM  

    @ VTyson08: I thought it was only me that noticed stuff like that. They seem to do that a lot. Everytime someone crumples a front wing, Goodyear always says "they'll come in for a new FRONT nose" opposed to the nose on the back of the car, I guess.

    Barnhart is in fact, the IHJ, where the letter 'I' stands for 'Inconsistent'. His inconsistency is the only thing about his judgments that are consistent.

  26. redd // July 12, 2009 1:23 PM  

    I know they'll explain away the dario pit stop with some tech mumbo-jumbo--but somebody screwed up.

    too bad for tracy today.

  27. VTyson08 // July 12, 2009 1:37 PM  

    Definitely agree with you guys!

    And @redd, you're right...they'll make up some junk to explain it and try to cover their rears just like they did in Texas. The bottom line is that they messed up and one can only speculate as to what the outcome of the race MIGHT have been...

    Robin and the rest of 'em need to absolutely hound Barnyard about this for the next two weeks.

  28. Anonymous // July 12, 2009 2:29 PM  

    Booing Helio is like booing Santa? Is Santa a two-face who does more blocking than a Maple Leaf goalie every weekend? Im sure Rick Mears is proud. How can you not boo the guy?

    Steve K
    Glendale, AZ

  29. Anonymous // July 12, 2009 2:52 PM  

    ABC coverage hit a new addition to their atrocious coverage, they had to scroll the results of the tape delayed F1 race in lap 3 of Toronto? Thanks for the ruined race weekend ABC...

  30. phatmogera // July 12, 2009 5:27 PM  

    Ok, for all of you who worry about ABC spoiling tape delayed F1 races, there is an easy fix: get a roll of 1" masking tape and cover the bottom of the screen with it. I've been doing this for years because ABC loves to ruin tape delayed competition.

  31. CurlingRacer // July 13, 2009 7:40 AM  


    I never thought about your issue with Jim Balsille and trying to take the Coyotes. He tried the same things with my Pens. I won't buy a Blackberry because of him. I hope the Coyotes stay home. OK, enough non Indy Car Talk!!

  32. Mark // July 13, 2009 7:02 PM  

    What's happened to the IHJ? Once the IRL dumped USAC he was the best race controller(?) out there, with CART being run by Barnum & Bailey and N-word by Mike Helton (same idea as CART). Maybe he has trouble with more than four corners?

    And don't even get me started on ABC. Don't let what's going on on the track get in the way of your talking points guys...

  33. OriginalChris // July 14, 2009 6:56 PM  

    I was at the race and it was thoroughly entertaining. The Globe and Mail reckoned that butts in seats was around 15 000 (the grandstands appeared to be balding, and there were fewer than in the past) and they had no concept what general admission was. (It's not Andretti-Green's policy to divulge that information, but they were happy, it was better than expected) From the website, to the ticket booths, to the lack of support series' it was a thoroughly disappointing, amateurish weekend. Then the IndyCars got on track (not at all for the first time in Toronto, thank you) and made you forget what absolute garbage the rest of the event was. If you could put the "Ohh, ChampCar had more people than this." "Where are all the support series?!" and "Ed Carpenter is the worst road racer in the history of man." (I had a friend with me Saturday who took issue with Mr. Carpenter and during the race kept him abreast of Ed's spins and misadventures for Sunday when I was with my Dad) comments out of your head you would have had your mind boggled by the on track action. My Saturday-friend, a man who admits he is not a fan of racing, said that knockout qualifying was really cool and exciting to watch (especially when you choose favorite drivers to root for). It's always fun to bring newbies to races, I brought family friends to Sebring 2008, stayed up-all-night at Le Mans this year with a couple friends, and this was Nick's second all-time race (first race was some event "in Monterrey, California" ... "where Carrol Shelby was because he is a friend of [Nick's] Grandpa" ... "maybe historic racing". ANYWAYS... I'd just like to get the following off my chest. That was my first IRL race. I've been to 'nuff Molson Indy / Molson GP Torontos, and though the "crapwagon" doesn't kickass like a ChampCar in terms of sound and speed it is still all things good about racing, loud, fast and it provided great action for those of us in the turn 9/10 grandstands.

    Additionally, this was not the first time that the IndyCar Series has visited Toronto. My very first live motorsport event came in 1993 when the IndyCar series raced a little event called the Molson Indy Toronto, a certain Thrill from someplace called Westhill (whose football team fell at the hands of my great offensive line play in 2005) won in a Marlboro Team Penske machine.

    Can we, for the sake of my hair, which is pulled out everytime a commentator or blogger insinuates that 1996 was the beginning of time and no races were held at a track until the IRL got their first event in, just admit that there was a split, we're unified now, agree that CART 1996-2007 happened and, though not gloss over the split, just move forward as a single entity?

    One more note, the Indy Lights race would have been better if the IRL would change the rule about HAVING to start on the wet tire in a wet race. The resulting (pathetic) pit stops stretched the field out and though the newbie kept timing gaps from second to third, as well as following the few battles there were, and noting whose performances were noticeably changing over the course of the event, I could tell he wasn't impressed with how strung out everything got.

    Finally, why on Earth was the great Stefan Johanson at the Indy this weekend? Saw him in the paddock, had an awkward exchange (do to the shock of finding him there) and then yelled at Will Power - good times.