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Untimely yellow bites Dixon, others, while Power benefits for once


Joe Skibinski

TORONTO - Inevitably the law of averages works out to where a driver that usually gets “hosed” by an untimely full course caution period in one race benefits from a yellow in another one.

And for Will Power, who’s frequently been on the wrong side of the yellow throughout his career, today’s Honda Indy Toronto gave him a respite when he pitted and promptly cycled to the front when the top seven were caught out after Josef Newgarden’s Lap 58 accident.

Meanwhile for Scott Dixon, the usually congenial, diplomatic driver who even when he’s pissed off still manages to talk, today was a different story.

Power won, while Dixon - who’d led 56 of the first 59 laps in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet - promptly lost the lead on the yellow, as he’d need to pit and would lose his track position.

Dixon left the track without comment (we asked) but his radio chatter seemed to pick up his tone:

Coming back from 13th to eighth was small consolation for the four-time and defending series champion, who now sits fourth in points (349 scored), some 83 back of points leader Simon Pagenaud with just five races remaining this season.

Interestingly, I asked Power about this very topic on Friday, noting that the lottery that Toronto can be often throws up surprises when a caution comes out and bites whoever may be leading at that moment.

“It’s everywhere. It’s every road course. It’s a travesty,” Power told NBC Sports on Friday.

“It’s such a joke when you have this way of thinking. Even with the technology they have.

“Why should someone get a drive-through penalty for doing a good job? Castroneves should have won Detroit (race two), or at least have been leading on that restart.”

The driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet noted today after getting lucky himself that while his mindset hasn’t changed, he admitted to being fortunate en route to his third win in the last four races Sunday in Toronto.

“I think there’s always a risk in the first stop if you stay out. We had enough fuel to go a couple more laps, but we opted to pit on the same lap as Dixon. It didn’t give us a chance to jump those guys,” Power explained in the post-race press conference.

“But, you know, that worked out for us in the last stop. The team called me in just at the last minute. Perfect timing. I mean, I can’t tell you how many times it has gone the opposite way for me at this place, and many other places.

“But I was so stoked to see yellow lights as I was going into pit lane. It’s not often you catch a yellow like that.”

His fellow podium finishers sang a similar tune; Castroneves, who’d been caught out in Detroit as Power noted, and Hinchcliffe in second and third benefited today.

Castroneves was 14th in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet and Hinchcliffe was 11th in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda at Lap 57 but following the yellow, they were sixth and third. Castroneves then moved forward in the final stages of the race to get up to second.

“It was interesting because the gap that we opened up, I feel that probably put in a different strategy,” Castroneves said. “Roger came with a very good strategy, decided to pit right away, put us in a different spot. The yellow finally came to our situation and we were able to stay kind of, like, in the top five. My car was really good, especially on blacks. I was able to make some moves.”

Hinchcliffe added, “For once in my career here in Toronto we caught a lucky break. It’s not just that I haven’t had great luck here, I’ve had insanely bad luck here. Today we were on the other side of that. It’s part of IndyCar racing.

“I feel bad for guys like Scott that got caught out by that yellow. It happens. We’ve been on the other side of it for sure. Will has been on the other side of it at this race. It happens. It’s the nature of the beast. For the number of times it goes against us, we’ll take the time it goes to us.”

Graham Rahal, who was among the seven drivers caught out on the Newgarden caution (Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, Charlie Kimball, Luca Filippi and Alexander Rossi), was visibly frustrated and spoke to IndyCar steward Max Papis post-race. These seven finished in 13th (Rahal), then eighth (Dixon), ninth (Pagenaud), 11th (Kimball), 14th (Filippi) and 16th (Rossi).

See Rahal’s below tweet for more:

Mid-Ohio, site of Rahal’s most recent win a year ago and the series’ next race in two weeks, was a perfect example where he came out on the good side.

Juan Pablo Montoya had dominated last year but a yellow there when Sage Karam spun - ironically, not long after Dixon had pitted - wound up shuffling Montoya, Sebastien Bourdais and others back in the field.

Meanwhile Dixon and Rahal had been on the right side of the yellow there, pitting before it came out, and promptly shot up the standings. Rahal won, and Dixon finished fourth.

Montoya was 11th, and while that race alone wasn’t the sole reason Montoya lost last year’s championship, it certainly didn’t help.

Follow @TonyDiZinno