Alex Tagliani is no longer accepting Dan Wheldon’s explanation for their Lap 29 incident during Sunday’s Sao Paulo Indy 300 after watching a replay of the race upon his return to Indianapolis.
Tagliani was hit from behind by Wheldon going into the right-hand Turn 5 and then crashed into Tony Kanaan, sending both of them into the runoff area.Wheldon went on to finish fifth and Kanaan came back to finish tenth, but Tagliani was eliminated as a result of the wreck and was credited with 19th.
The former Indy 500 champion Wheldon apologized after the race to him and his FAZZT Race Team members, but the Canadian Press is now reporting that while Tagliani appreciated that gesture, he isn’t buying the Englishman’s story behind the incident — going as far to say that “the reasoning behind his excuse is total crap.”
“He comes to me at the airport, apologizes and says, ‘Oh, I’m sorry. I hit a bump and locked up and slid into you,’” Tagliani said in a phone interview with the CP. “And I said ‘OK. No problem. You’re OK. Thank you.’ And I shake his hand. Everything’s good. And then I come to Indy and I watch the replay and it’s [B.S.]. I’m not happy.”
In post-race comments, Wheldon said that a bump caused his front wheels to go airborne and made him unable to stop his No. 4 National Guard/Panther Racing machine from going into Tagliani’s No. 77 B&W/FAZZT Race Team special.
According to the CP, Panther director of public relations Mike Kitchel said in an e-mail that the team will not respond directly to Tagliani.
The Tagliani-Wheldon crack-up is part of the highlight reel below, but you’ll have to move the cursor to around the four minute, 20 second mark in order to see it. You’ll notice both of them going over a bump, but it doesn’t look like Wheldon went over another before he got into Tagliani. If you move the cursor back a few seconds, you’ll see Kanaan getting spun by the wayward Canadian through the in-car camera on his No. 11 7-Eleven/Andretti Autosport machine – he was the “innocent victim” in this.
While I don’t consider Wheldon to be a dirty driver by any stretch of the imagination, I think Tagliani has an argument here based on this video.
Video credit to IndyCar.com. Props to Paul Dalbey of Planet-IRL.com for catching this story.