Grand Prix Of Baltimore - Day 3

Kanaan, Rahals engage in social media spat after Baltimore


While the latest Scott Dixon vs. the combination of Beaux Barfield, Will Power and Tim Cindric drama inevitably will steal headlines and discussion in the days and weeks to come, there was another post-race brouhaha that emerged after IndyCar’s Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT.

Those disagreeing in this instance are current Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan, former Indianapolis 500 winner and team owner Bobby Rahal, and Rahal’s son and driver Graham.

Rahal actually was having one of his better weekends of the season in the No. 15 blu eCigs Honda for RLL Racing. He started 12th, but would have made the Firestone Fast Six had his two fastest laps not been deleted for qualifying after an incident in Turn 8.

Rahal, who ran Firestone’s primary blacks the first two stints, was a passing demon early as he advanced to sixth place on Lap 10, and maintained impressive pace on the harder of the two compounds while those ahead of him were on the softer alternate reds.

He led 5 laps and ran in the top five most of the day, even despite making contact with Scott Dixon on a Lap 48 restart at Turn 1 and avoiding a penalty. A pit stop from the lead on Lap 57 took him out of that position, and contact with Kanaan on Lap 68 put pause to his race. Kanaan brushed the wall on his own on the penultimate lap in the No. 11 Hydroxycut Chevrolet for KVRT-SH. He finished 15th, and Rahal 17th.

Rahal’s official quote first: “The blu eCigs car was awesome today; I don’t have any complaints there. We should have won that race; that was my race but everything kept going wrong for us. The strategy was on par really until those yellows. I don’t understand why they were so long but they were and it took us right out of it but at the end we started to claw our way back. I got a really good restart and I got by Kanaan. I don’t even know how far back he was but I looked in Turn 2 and couldn’t even see him. The next thing I knew, I was trying to line those guys up for the exit and he just drove absolutely square into the side of me. I really don’t get that and I’m definitely going to have some words with him.”

And here’s Kanaan’s quote, without mentioning anything regarding the incident: “It was a very physical and bizarre race. All the crashes on the restarts, all the cars that were involved just made the whole race difficult. I drove the whole first stint with a damaged front wing and still got up to sixth. I was hanging on the whole time and trying to fight through it. We pitted a bit out of sequence and got to the front avoiding all the carnage. After the last restart the car started getting away from me. It got worse and worse and finally I hit the wall in Turn 12.”

Things spilled over to social media in the aftermath. Kanaan made a general observation first:

Shortly thereafter, Bobby Rahal “subtweeted” Kanaan and suggested he had lost any respect he held for the KV Racing Technology – SH driver. Kanaan then responded saying “Hey Bob this is my twitter handle” and Bobby Rahal replied with an offer to bury the hatchet. Here’s the exchange. Make of the actions and reactions what you will. All I’ll say is that it’s a different world now where “Twitter wars” take precedence over post-race disagreements on pit lane that the cameras can see. I’m not sure I like it.


IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Ryan Hunter-Reay

Ryan Hunter-Reay
Leave a comment

MotorSportsTalk continues its look through the Verizon IndyCar Series field. Finishing sixth in 2015 after a late rally was Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda

  • 2014: 6th Place, 3 Wins, 1 Pole, 6 Podiums, 6 Top-5, 9 Top-10, 195 Laps Led, 10.2 Avg. Start, 10.9 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 6th Place, 2 Wins, Best Start 3rd, 3 Podiums, 4 Top-5, 7 Top-10, 71 Laps Led, 12.2 Avg. Start, 10.4 Avg. Finish

The old adage “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” would probably be the best way to sum up Ryan Hunter-Reay’s 2015 season, which until the final quarter of season could best be described as a forgettable nightmare.

The first three races seemed somewhat OK, with eighth, seventh and fourth place grid spots. But none of the three produced a result of note; Hunter-Reay was also caught up in the three-car, late race accident at NOLA Motorsports Park and didn’t bank any good finish until a fifth place at Barber the end of April.

A tailspin followed. Hunter-Reay started between 14th and 21st every race between the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and Milwaukee – a stretch of eight races – and only had one top-10 finish in that stint, eighth at the rain-affected lottery that was Detroit race two. Some seasons are just ones you want to end and by Milwaukee it was obvious that Hunter-Reay was racing just to get to the end of the year, without things getting any worse.

Things finally came good with a typically good drive at Iowa and arguably one of the drives of his career, two races later at Pocono, to end with two wins and extend his streak of winning a race in each of his six seasons at Andretti Autosport. It was no coincidence, either, that Hunter-Reay’s uptick in form came with the return of the late Justin Wilson’s presence in a fourth car.

After Pocono, Hunter-Reay also drove well to finish second at Sonoma, and by that point he’d completed an incredible late-season turnaround to jump from 14th to sixth in points. But if asked, he’d probably admit this was his toughest season yet at Andretti and arguably his toughest overall since his 2009 season, when he was in-between full-time rides and saw out the year with Vision Racing and A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Helio Castroneves

Helio Castroneves
Leave a comment

MotorSportsTalk continues its look through the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series field with fifth-placed Helio Castroneves.

Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet

  • 2014: 2nd Place, 1 Win, 3 Poles, 6 Podiums, 7 Top-5, 10 Top-10, 282 Laps Led, 5.7 Avg. Start, 9.3 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 5th Place, Best Finish 2nd, 4 Poles, 5 Podiums, 6 Top-5, 9 Top-10, 198 Laps Led, 4.9 Avg. Start, 9.3 Avg. Finish

Much as you’d write about his fellow countryman and longtime friend and rival Tony Kanaan, age hasn’t slowed Helio Castroneves, but it’s instead fueled continued success. And while Castroneves went winless for only the second time (2011) in his illustrious 16-year career with Team Penske, he wasn’t down on performance.

Now 40, Castroneves continued to have several shining moments in 2015, which was particularly important to do to stand out against defending champion Will Power, this year’s primary title contender Juan Pablo Montoya and new driver Simon Pagenaud.

Castroneves scored four pole positions and boasted a 4.9 averaging starting position, second in the field to Power, which was very impressive to note. His run of form from Texas through Milwaukee, capturing three podiums in four races, was his best race stretch this season. Additional highlights included back-to-back runner-up results in the NOLA lottery and then on pure pace at Long Beach.

The month of May must though be viewed as a disappointment. Castroneves played a role in the first corner mess at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and got a points penalty (although the number was dropped) as a result. Then he endured another Indianapolis 500 where he was not the out-and-out fastest car in the Penske brigade. While Montoya and Power were dueling for the win and Pagenaud had speed to burn all month, Castroneves’ lone moment of note came with his accident in practice, which mercifully he emerged unscathed from.

As ever though, fifth in this field owed to his consistency and dogged determination to succeed. Castroneves has ended top-five in seven of the last eight seasons since the IRL/Champ Car merger in 2008 and if it wasn’t for Dixon’s top-three run hogging the headlines, we’d probably appreciate Castroneves even more so. As long as he’s continually competitive, he’s still worthy at Team Penske.