IndyCar Toronto Auto Racing

So, Dario Franchitti gets third back, and standing starts set for Sunday

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So, two things have just been announced by INDYCAR in the wake of the finish – and start, for that matter – of the IZOD IndyCar Series’ Honda Indy Toronto race one.

First, Dario Franchitti has been restored to his third place, which had been temporarily taken away after the race for alleged blocking against Will Power, heading into Turn 3 at the Exhibition Place street circuit.

Here is the official statement from INDYCAR, issued nearly a couple hours after the race finish:

After the race, INDYCAR officials met with Dario Franchitti and Target Chip Ganassi Racing team members to further review the blocking penalty issued on the final lap of today’s Honda Indy Toronto. The team presented car data showing steering trace and braking points from the Lap 85 incident with the No. 12 car driven by Will Power. The group also viewed additional video.  Upon further review, INDYCAR has reinstated No. 10 Franchitti to his original third place finishing position.

Franchitti, perhaps justifiably, sounded off during the post-race press conference about the penalty after it was issued.

“The big thing is all this (expletive) at the end, quite honestly,” Franchitti said. “Of all the stuff that went on all day, anybody I raced against would protect the inside, the person trying to pass would go to the outside. I made my intentions clear very early.”

He later added he and the team planned to protest.

“It will be very interesting to know how they make decisions up there sometimes. I think it involves a dice and a blindfold,” he deadpanned.

Meanwhile, the aborted standing start that was supposed to take place today has in fact, been reinstituted for tomorrow. If there aren’t further stalls, that is.

“The fans deserve to see a standing start, so after consultation with the promoter, we have made the decision to implement a standing start for Sunday’s race,” Brian Barnhart, senior vice president of operations, INDYCAR, said in a series release.

8:45 p.m. ET:  And, we have an update from Franchitti directly. He’s voiced his thanks for the result reversal on Twitter.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.