Franchitti wins third IndyCar title in Toronto

Posted July 10, 2011, at 8:38 p.m.

TORONTO — Dario Franchitti survived a crash-filled race to win his third title at the Honda Indy Toronto on Sunday and extend his lead in the IndyCar standings.

The Scot held off Graham Rahal on a late restart and then beat teammate Scott Dixon on the 1.75-mile temporary street course at Exhibition Place. Ryan Hunter-Reay was third, Marco Andretti fourth and Vitor Meira a season-high fifth.

Franchitti leads the standings with 353 points, 55 ahead of Will Power. It was Franchitti’s 30th career win and his fourth this season. He won the race in 1999 and 2009.

Franchitti got a break when he collided with Power on the 57th lap and knocked the defending champion out of contention

Chasing Power into a corner on the 57th lap, Franchitti nudged the Australian into a spin that stalled the pole-sitter’s car. Franchitti kept going, while Power had to try to recover from 18th. There was initial confusion about whether Franchitti’s Target Chip Ganassi team had repealed a drive-through penalty, but race officials later said the incident had been reviewed and no penalty ha d been handed out.

“I’m always racing clean, he’s always racing dirty. …” Power told the Versus network during the race. “He never gets a penalty from IndyCar. Just not right.”

Power’s day was done on the 66th lap after getting banged into the wall from behind by Alex Tagliani. Power placed 24th in the second straight race he failed to finish after suffering a mild concussion in a crash last month in the race at Iowa won by Andretti.

Power entered the day trailing Franchitti by 20 points in what has become a two-driver race for the series championship.

Power wasn’t alone in coming out on the losing end of a crash.

Tagliani was launched into the air and out of the race after Danica Patrick was pushed into his car on the 72nd lap. The Canadian already had survived a on the 29th lap with Helio Castroneves, a hit that effectively took Castroneves out of the race after the Brazilian’s car required repairs that dropped him several laps back. It also hurt Power, Castroneves’ teammate, who had been leadin g but was forced to pit on the ensuing caution.

That allowed Franchitti, who had pitted right before the caution, to take his first lead of the race.

James Hinchcliffe and Paul Tracy hurt each other during a close battle on the 38th lap after their cars clipped, causing a flat tire for Hinchcliffe and sending Tracy to the pits for a new front wing. Tracy suffered in the collision, dropping two laps back.

Tracy’s hopes for a victory were wiped out after he bumped into Vitor Meira on the 45th lap, dropping the 42-year-old driver three laps out of the pack.

Hinchcliffe, meanwhile, was taken out of contention with nine laps to go after being involved in a five-car collision that resulted when Andretti turned into Oriol Servia. Andretti escaped the pileup that involved Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball and ended the day for Mike Conway.

Patrick had a rough day after starting 21st. She was pushed off the road by Japan’s Takuma Sato in the seventh lap, puncturing one of her wheels, although she was back on the road after a pit stop. It was more costly for Sato, who had wing damage and was stuck in the pits to fall six laps down before getting back on the track.

Brazil’s Tony Kanaan made an early exit after Ryan Briscoe clipped the Brazilian’s back wheel rounding a corner, sending Kanaan airborne into the wall just three laps after the start.

Kanaan pointed at his head and yelled at Briscoe from the side of road as the Australian passed by the wrecked car.

Karma caught up to Briscoe on the 55th lap when he was bumped by Conway and dropped back.

Notes: Bobby Rahal, the father of Graham Rahal, won the inaugural race when it was called the Molson Indy in 1986. … Canadian actor Dan Aykroyd served as grand marshal of the race. … The next stop on the circuit is the Edmonton Indy on July 24. … Justin Wilson’s brother, Stefan, won the Firestone Indy Lights developmental race Sunday to give both Wilson brothers victories in Toront o. Justin Wilson previously won the race in 2005.

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