Tagliani predicts multiple crashes at Edmonton Indy

The Canadian Press

7/12/2011 5:19:29 PM

EDMONTON -- Canadian open-wheel driver Alex Tagliani says anyone amazed by the demolition derby at last weekend's Toronto Indy hasn't seen anything yet.

Tagliani says the long straightaway into the 90-degree Turn 1 at Edmonton's new airport track guarantees more carnage unless IndyCar officials modify the controversial double-file restarts.

"I'm getting pretty ticked off," said Tagliani in an interview Tuesday.

"In Edmonton, I expect multiple wrecks out here."

The 38-year-old from Lachenaie, Que., will be one of three Canadians on the grid July 24 at the Edmonton Indy, the next stop on the circuit for the North American open-wheel series.

The double-file restarts have been one change to the circuit this year garnering the majority of headlines.

Previously, the drivers restarted in single file following a full-course caution.

This year, drivers are lining up two-by-two. It has created more excitement and more passing on the restarts, but has also led to more crashes, including the multiple crackups that knocked out about a quarter of the field in Toronto Sunday.

Tagliani also said the double-files give backmarkers a false feeling of advantage that prompts them to take risks.

"When you pack us up and have marbles on the race track, we create so much turbulence, the guy in P8 has a big, big draft and feels like he's 10 miles an hour quicker and can make it all up in one corner -- and you have wrecks."

Tagliani, along with Toronto's Paul Tracy and James Hinchcliffe will join rivals like Will Power, Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Danica Patrick on the new course at the City Centre Airport.

The recent closure of one runway, the first step in the eventual shutdown of the entire facility, has forced organizers to redraw the circuit.

Drivers will now navigate 13 turns, driving counter-clockwise on a 2.3 mile (3.6-km) course resembling a long-barrelled handgun.

The main storyline is expected to be whether all the bad blood from the Toronto race spills over to Edmonton.

The race on the road course at Exhibition Place featured a lot of crashing, cussing, and fist-waving among drivers, led by Power.

Power, for the second season in row, has seen an early lead in the championship standings get eaten up in another relentless championship march by Scottish driver Franchitti.

Power and Franchitti banged into each other fighting for the same piece of real estate more than halfway through the Toronto race, causing Power to stall out.

He later accused Franchitti of "dirty" racing and dismissed Tagliani as a "wanker" when Tagliani came up behind him and put him into the wall with just 19 laps to go in 85-lap race.

Tagliani said he and Power are close off the track, there's no hard feelings, and that the crash occurred because Power thought Tagliani was in fact a Power teammate -- Ryan Briscoe -- and therefore wasn't expecting him to crowd his gearbox.

"I'm having fun with this. He called me a wanker. I'm going to tell him he's a tosser," said Tagliani employing his own mild Euro-epithet.

In 2010, Power, a driver for Team Penske, jumped out to a hot start but slowly saw his lead over Franchitti melt away and finally disappear altogether when the 30-year-old Aussie bent his car and pulled out early from the final race in Miami.

Franchitti kept his car nose clean, finished eighth in the race and collected his third overall championship.

Power started this season with four consecutive poles and two wins, but has since slipped to second place with 298 points, 55 behind Franchitti in a point-system where a win is worth 50.

Tagliani is 10th, 180 points off the lead.

Power has lately been calling out not only opponents but also fellow team members.

In Iowa last month, a fifth-place start collapsed into a 21st place finish when a Penske crew mistake sent Power roaring out of pit lane right into Charlie Kimball, T-boning the rookie, as he pulled in.

"We're always screwing ourselves in the pits," said Power at the time.

"We've got to fix our pit things."

Tagliani said he told Power to stop figuratively gripping the steering wheel so tightly.

"I told him, 'Look, you just have to get back into the mode where you drive because you like driving, and stop thinking about winning the championship,"' said Tagliani.

"When he's on the pole, he thinks he should be able to come out with maximum points. But when the race doesn't go as planned, it gets to him very quickly."