TORONTO (AP) - Late for an appointment, E.J. Viso is getting nowhere fast. The IndyCar driver is stuck in gridlock traffic outside Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition grounds, site of last weekend’s race.
Idling behind a long line of cars being held up by a traffic cop, Viso can do nothing but sit helpless behind the wheel while exchanging text messages to inform a member of his KV Racing Technology team of his predicament.
Frustrating as it is, it was yet another lesson for Viso to remain patient, something the fast, feisty and sometimes reckless Venezuelan has often been accused of lacking.
“Yeah, I have a reputation. And in a lot of ways I think I deserve to be called that way,” Viso said. “But in some others, I think this sport is also a little bit cruel and cold, because people only see the result and they don’t understand why.”
The results haven’t been pretty.
In his fifth IndyCar season, Viso has far more did not finishes (24) than top 10s (16), with his best race coming two years ago at Iowa where he placed third. Mechanical issues have been a problem, but more notably his career has been plagued by crashes. He’s been involved in so many that his name has been transformed into a verb, “Visoed,” the title of a mock Twitter account where followers detail each of the driver’s latest setbacks.
Viso can’t get a break, even when a crash isn’t his fault (Power acknowledged he didn’t see Viso coming) and even though he’s been racing much cleaner and better this year. He’s posted three top-10 finishes, with his best a fifth place at Milwaukee, where he led a career-high 27 laps.
He’s also been far better at keeping his car running, having failed to finish only two of 10 races: at Iowa and Texas, where a mechanical problem ended his day.
At Toronto, last weekend, Viso overcame an engine problem and finished 20th.
“I’m definitely pleased somehow, because I think a lot of the things I didn’t have in the past, we have them right now,” he said of his season so far. “But I probably am not fully pleased because we haven’t been able to seal the deals many times this year.”
Some of the credit to Viso’s improvement goes to KV co-owner Jimmy Vasser, the former driver who’s taken Viso under his wing this season. Vasser, who counted 10 career wins and 67 top-five finishes, brings a wealth of track experience. He has also attempted to be a calming influence, too.
“The last few years, I think he got frustrated and maybe thought people were out to get him,” Vasser said. “That’s the biggest thing for him to make him feel, `Hey, they want me to do well. I’m their No. 1.’”
And there was also an emphasis on having Viso finish races.