As the second last event of the year for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, the Barrie Speedway round is always exciting and there is always a lot of bumping and banging. There is usually some off track excitement following the race as well as tempers run hot. Occasionally, competitors who are eager to find someone to blame end up running off at the mouth, only to end up with egg on their face when they are proven wrong later.
In the closing stages of the Wahta Springs 300, the #95 of Anthony Simone appeared to be holding up the #25 of Joey McColm, as the pair battled for lap after lap. Simone experienced a drivetrain failure, which left oil on the track, causing McColm into the back of the 95, spinning him into the wall. Simone didn’t see it that way, and blamed the failure to be a result of the hit.
As expected, the restart following the clean up of that incident proved to be hard fought. Moments later, as the pack continued to battle, the #18 of Indycar and NASCAR regular Alex Tagliani got very loose and bounced around between the #25 and the wall, before spinning backwards down the front straight. If I recall correctly, there were 6 laps left at this point.
That mess was cleaned up and the green, white, checkers dash to the finish took place, with Jason Hathaway taking the win following a clean and fast race.
Full disclosure here: I was shooting specifically for the #25 car at this event, but I also regularly shoot for other teams on the grid as well. I have no bias one way or the other. I do however take issue with people placing blame in the wrong place and doing it publicly.
As I made my way back to pit lane, following the race, there was a commotion surrounding the #25. Tagliani was bent over with his head in McColm’s window, screaming at him for causing his crash. Among the statements I heard was “You think you can do whatever you want, just because you’ve got a big sponsor…” Pretty ironic coming from the “star” driver who had to be pulled from his hauler to meet the fans before the race and stood there with his dinner in one hand while signing autographs with the other. A really classy guy. I am told that the French Canadian driver also vowed to get McColm back for it.
Once Tagliani had said his piece, Simone had his turn yelling at McColm, who remained in his car under the watchful eye of a NASCAR official. The incident between Simone and McColm will likely remain somewhat of a stalemate, as we’ll never know if the driveline failure was the cause or result for sure.
The following week, Tagliani turned to the Toronto Sun’s motorsport correspondent, Dean McNulty, to express his feelings about McColm’s driving tactics. Tagliani told McNulty that “That behaviour and contact at the end of the race was avoidable and unacceptable”, adding that “it’s about as bad as it gets, and I’m very disappointed in the situation.”
Now, have a look at some low resolution video of the incident. While blurry, it is clear enough to show exactly what happened. Tagliani got loose by himself, or possibly with a bit of help from the #76 of Jeff Lapcevich. McColm held his track position in the left lane, as Tagliani made like a pinball. Needless to say, McColm has been cleared of any wrongdoings.
Ed Note: Watch this video closely a couple of times, specifically note that Tagliani slows as he is coming off the turn. Any tap that the 18 received from Lapcevich was a result of the that car unexpectedly slowing.
But what about Tagliani? He has gone to national media to complain about the bahaviour of another driver, who in fact had nothing to do with the incident. An anonymous source close to NASCAR officials tells me that he will be forced to apologize in the NASCAR hauler prior to the race. If he refuses, he may be black flagged to prevent him from carrying out his threats to the #25.