IndyCar's annual visit to Toronto always provides fireworks, largely at Turn 3. Defending race champion and three-time Toronto winner Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing expects a similar race this year even if the equipment, engines and race director are different.
“Besides Turn 3, Turn 1 is pretty action-packed, too – certainly on the start and the restarts, or the side-by-side restarts, Turn 1 is going to be very action-packed,” he said. “With the big, long straight into Turn 3, I think you're going to see more guys trying outside passes, because when the car in front goes to defend, that's only one way to go and that's to the outside.”
Franchitti was referencing the new rule for 2012 implemented by president of competition Beaux Barfield where drivers can defend their lines, but not block. Running a lower line in defense of, but not in reaction to another driver's move, is allowed; moving in response to another move will be called a block. In 2011, drivers had to maintain the natural racing line – which basically left the inside line open at Toronto – and it led to several accidents in Toronto's most notorious turn.
The push-to-pass element incorporated this race for the first time in 2012 should help promote more overtaking, in Franchitti's view.
“With the push-to-pass and the momentum that will give the trailing car – providing, though, the car in front doesn't use it, too – that's going to give some serious momentum,” Franchitti admitted. “That; plus the draft, you're going to see more outside attempts at passes there. That's when kind of a gray area forms, because it's one thing defending to the inside but the one thing we don't need is the cars who are defending coming back across into the path of the car who is trying to make an outside pass. I think it's going to be the usual crazy, physical, action‑packed race in Toronto this weekend.”
Franchitti was in the crosshairs of last year's race after a dust-up with Will Power at Turn 3. Franchitti's maintained the stance both drivers had a role to play in the incident, although he continued on while Power's race was compromised before it later ended. The resulting opinions that came out after the race garnered IndyCar some additional publicity based on the rivalry between the two championship contenders.
“I think that's all in the past,” Franchitti said. “Will and I had a disagreement about that. I think we have now – I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I think we have now kind of realized we both had our part in that accident, and we've definitely moved on.
“There was definitely some discussions after the race last year, after several races last year; and I think in a lot of ways, that was good,” he added. “I think it showed the fans the passion that the teams and the drivers have for what we do.
“I think sometimes we have kind of almost kept that passion too hidden, maybe, and it was definitely out in the open. That was good. That is definitely a part of it, when you've got people in such a competitive environment, that's going to happen sometimes.”
Power has three wins in 2012, all on road and street courses, and leads the championship, while Franchitti currently stands 70 points back in eighth place, with his only win of the year this year's Indianapolis 500. Franchitti's 2011 Toronto win is his most recent road and street course triumph.