AGR holds private meeting after Danica, Marco collide during race

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EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada -- In a season where Danica Patrick finally won an IndyCar race, trouble for the starlet continued in Saturday's Rexall Edmonton Indy when she was driven off the track by the team owner's son, Marco Andretti.

The incident led to a major closed-door meeting that lasted for an hour after the race. Inside the meeting were Andretti Green Racing team owners Michael Andretti, Kim Green and Kevin Savoree and the four drivers including Tony Kanaan, Hideki Mutoh, Marco Andretti and Patrick.

This season, Andretti Green Racing has become "Team Turmoil."

Rather than storm down and put the finger of blame on Marco Andretti, as she has been prone to do with rival drivers Ryan Briscoe is this year's Indianapolis 500 and Milka Duno last weekend at Mid-Ohio, Patrick let her teammate off the hook.

"Marco is my teammate, and I know he wouldn't do things on purpose, so it's all good," Patrick said.

Marco Andretti left the meeting without comment. The team issued an innocuous quote from the driver following the race that did not bring up the incident.

"It was a difficult race and not the finish we were looking for," the statement said. "There was tremendous fan support and this was a great event weekend, so hopefully we'll have a better result next year."

However, his father, Michael Andretti thought enough was enough after the team's female star was taken out of the race by "The Golden Child" -- who happens to be his son.

"We just didn't perform as a team, and we want to make sure everybody is working together," Michael Andretti said. "I'm most upset about our results. We weren't good all weekend and we have to work together more. We have to get it back on track again.

"It's a refresher meeting. I told them we have to do a better job."

Kanaan was the highest finishing driver for AGR and he finished ninth. After Marco clipped Patrick on lap 78 when the right front of Andretti's car hit the left rear of Patrick's car entering the 10th turn in a battle for ninth place, it send both cars into the pits for repairs.

Patrick's IndyCar suffered a flat left rear and Andretti's car suffered front wing damage. Patrick's car had to be restarted by the Delphi IndyCar safety team but it dealt a critical blow to both drivers' chances in the race.

Andretti would finish 17th and Patrick 18th, and both were summoned into the back of one of the AGR transporters for a closed-door meeting;

When asked if it were a "give-and-take" meeting, Andretti snickered, hopped on his scooter and drove off.

Meantime, as several hundred fans waiting patiently for an hour to get Patrick's autograph, the perky driver came out of the transporter, spoke to and signed autographs for about 20 minutes.

"There are so many people on this team, it takes a meeting for everybody on this team to get on the same page, so it was necessary to have this meeting," Patrick said. "It's much better when we talk. There was listening and then there was conversation and that's the way it should be when a team works together. Everybody should be able to say something.

"I had no radio for over half the race, so I had no idea what was going on. Marty Roth was lapped traffic and we tried to get around him as quick as I could. I caught him at the wrong place and got checked up. Next thing I know, I'm in the grass. That was it."

All four AGR cars had struggles throughout the weekend but with controversy a constant companion to Patrick recently, an on-track incident with the team owner's son was the last thing she needed this season, especially one week after the legendary towel tossing incident with Duno.

"We haven't had good cars all weekend, and that is obvious from the outside looking in," Patrick said. "None of us qualified very well. Tony Kanaan was the best overall, and we were all struggling.

"At this point I wouldn't say we're the only team that needs a week off after six-straight races."

An angry-looking Kanaan marched out of the meeting and left the track. When asked by about the particulars of the meeting, he snapped, "I'm not going to talk about it. That's our personal stuff and it's nobody else's business.

"You can ask but I'm not going to talk."

When pressed on the issue, however, Kanaan finally offered his thoughts on the team's overall performance.

"I think we didn't have good cars," Kanaan said. "We tried to regroup and didn't do a good job as a team. When the best finish for the team is ninth-place, that's not a good result for anyone."

Patrick has been a lightning rod for controversy since her historic win at Japan on April 20, when she became the first female driver ever to win a race in a major closed-course racing series.

She was in serious contention for this year's Indy 500 before she was taken out of the race on pit lane when Briscoe pulled out of her pits and ran into the side of her car. Patrick was furious, climbed out of her car and made a determined march down pit lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before she was ordered off pit road by Charles Burns, the IndyCar Series director of security.

"I don't really regret those things," Patrick said. "I don't regret my instincts or emotions. It's my character and my honest personality. Sometimes it comes in smiles and sometimes it comes in frowns.

"You look back at situations that you can do better but otherwise it is life. My life happens in front of a camera all the time but I don't regret any of those decisions."

She became a focal point of criticism from Texas Motor Speedway president and general manager Eddie Gossage when she defended the scheduling of Milwaukee as the first race after the Indy 500 rather than Texas.

She drew some heated criticism from Dixon and fellow driver Ed Carpenter after the Iowa race on June 22 after both accused her of blocking. Dixon called her a "menace" and Carpenter called her the "new Scott Sharp of the series" referring to a driver known for his blocking tactics before he left the series at the end of this year.

She lost control of her race car leaving the pits at Watkins Glen International on July 6 and nearly hit several of Dixon's crew members when the nose of her car hit the bulls-eye of the Target logo.

"Christ, I know Scott called her a menace at Iowa but she didn't have to take it out by trying to take out all of his boys," quipped Ron Dixon, Scott Dixon's father who was in the pit area at the time.

None of the crew members were injured but several made some angry gestures at her as she drove off and one kicked the damaged front wing which had to be replaced from the contact with the wall.

"I may have got the bulls-eye, but I definitely wasn't aiming at it," Patrick said after that incident. "I just kept the tires lit. I was running some different gears and as soon as the wheels stopped spinning the revs dropped pretty low. I was ahead of Hideki Mutoh pulling out and I didn't want to lose the position so I kept it going. I hit the paint area and the car swapped ends. It was a dumb mistake.

"I was telling them with my hands that I was really sorry. It was stupid. Next time, I will know better."

She was on the receiving end of blocking by Helio Castroneves at Nashville on July 19 which led up to the piece de resistance when she charged into Duno's pit area at Mid-Ohio and got a towel thrown in her face twice from the female Venezuelan driver who screamed, "You can push the boys around but you can't push me."

That incident was videotaped by a friend of Duno's and was one of the most replayed clips of the past week.

Luckily for Patrick and the AGR team, there were no video cameras in the closed-door meeting, but the fact it needed to be held in the first place only underlines how this has become "Team Turmoil" of the IndyCar Series.