New car can’t eliminate all IndyCar dangers

A scary crash in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach made it clear that despite a new, safer car in the Izod IndyCar Series, certain dangers remain inherent in the sport.

The new car, which includes extra body work around the rear wheels, was rolled out this season after Dan Wheldon was killed in October in a multicar wreck in Las Vegas, one in which Wheldon’s car and others got airborne after hitting cars around them.

Yet in Sunday’s Long Beach race, Marco Andretti’s car briefly got airborne after he slammed into the rear of Graham Rahal’s car as they approached a corner. Andretti’s car then crashed hard into the track’s tire barriers.

Neither driver was seriously hurt, but Andretti said, “I’m lucky I didn’t get upside down, I could have been killed. I would have had a clean pass on him.”

But Rahal said Andretti “wasn’t going to make the corner, no matter what.”

Ganassi’s long day

Rahal, who finished 24th, was just one reason why Long Beach proved a trying race for his team owner, Chip Ganassi.

Two-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon suffered mechanical failure after 27 laps and finished 23rd. “It just died on track and we don’t know why yet,” he said.

Dario Franchitti, another Ganassi driver and the reigning series champion, was 15th after struggling with the car’s handling and making contact with Ryan Briscoe, which damaged Franchitti’s front wing.

Ganassi’s fourth driver, Charlie Kimball of Camarillo, finished 18th.

Kanaan’s improvement

Brazilian Tony Kanaan was fourth in his car prepared by KV Racing Technology, the best result so far this season for the 2004 IndyCar champion.

“We didn’t finish two races in a row, so it was nice to finish this one,” he said.

The IndyCar Series’ next race is April 29 on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil.