Texas 'big one' roughs up cars, feelings

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FORT WORTH, Texas – There was no shortage of action in Saturday night’s Rainguard Water Sealers 600 at Texas Motor Speedway, but an incident on Lap 152 will be the one talked about most in the days to come.

The crash started when the cars of Tony Kanaan, James Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin went three wide into Turn 3 on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval. Kanaan’s No. 10 NTT Data Honda made slight contact with Hinchcliffe’s No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, sending Hinchcliffe into teammate Aleshin and triggering a nine-car incident that wound up bringing out a red flag to halt racing for 30 minutes.

Kanaan was able to continue, but was levied a 20-second stop-and-hold penalty for avoidable contact when racing resumed. He went two laps down but recovered to finish second in the race that saw nine caution periods for a total of 66 laps.

In addition to Hinchcliffe and Aleshin, Dale Coyne Racing’s Ed Jones and Tristan Vautier, Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay and AJ Foyt Racing’s Carlos Munoz were eliminated in the incident. Ed Carpenter Racing teammates Ed Carpenter and JR Hildebrand sustained damage to their cars but were able to return later after making repairs in the garage area. Fortunately, no one was injured in this incident or any of the others in the race.

“Mikhail was the last guy to the party,” Hinchcliffe said of the three-wide attempt. “He showed up as we were side-by-side there, had a good run on me and went outside. Tony had a half a racetrack to his left and just drove right. He was on the white line, driver’s left, and then, just heading into (Turn) 3, came halfway across the racetrack and just pushed me right into Mikhail. Either he didn’t know we were three wide or didn’t care.

“He’s normally the best guy at 1.5-mile racing,” Hinchcliffe continued regarding Kanaan. “I would trust going wheel-to-wheel with him all race long. We did it last year in our shootout here for the win, but today he made a big mistake and took out a lot of race cars that didn’t deserve to be crashed.”

Graham Rahal and Gabby ChavesKanaan, the Race 1 winner at Texas in his 2004 Verizon IndyCar Series championship season, wasn’t certain what happened to trigger the crash but accepted responsibility.

“Honestly, I didn't see it,” he said after earning his fourth podium finish at Texas in the past five races. “There was a bump going into Turn 3 there and I guess I moved up.

“I really have to apologize to Hinch. … I guess it was a close call. I moved up and we hit. It's sad. I don't do those kind of things. I race people clean and I want people to race me clean. It was definitely an honest mistake.”

“Especially in a place like this, you don't crash people on purpose,” Kanaan added. “I've been around it way too long to do any silly things like that, and if I did, it was really a mistake and I apologize for it. Obviously, I had to pay that in the pits for the longest 20 seconds of my life.”

Aleshin provided his viewpoint from the No. 7 SMP Racing Honda.

“I was much faster than the guys on the lower line,” he said. “I thought we were all going to stay together up there, but I think James touched Kanaan. I don’t know the reason for that … then we basically all crashed.

“I thought we could make it three lanes up there. I didn’t understand what was going on because I gave space to them, but something was going on with James and Kanaan. In the end, what we have is two great (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports) cars that ended up in the wall, and that’s just dumb. … We could have been in the top spot today.”

Vautier, who was racing in a one-off as a substitute for injured Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, ran strong all night until the incident. The Frenchman qualified fifth and led for 15 laps.

“To be honest, it happened really fast,” Vautier said. “I saw them three wide. TK was on the bottom lane and didn’t know they were three wide, and went a bit high into James, then James went into Mikhail.

“I'm just really p---ed, to be honest, because I wanted to be at the end. But we did our best, the car was amazing,” said Vautier. “It was great to battle with the top guys.”

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