If it’s Saturday, around the middle of July, and you’re in Toronto, then that means the IndyCar circus has made its way north of the border for the only Canadian stop on the schedule. The 31st running of this historic race falls in the latter half of the season, and with just 5 events after this one, and the field in the throws of a tight championship race, the pressure is on everyone this weekend to squeeze the most out of their cars and abilities, and walk out of here with the most points available.
Like last year, with the construction on site of the new "Hotel X" almost complete, the configuration of the track remains altered, most notably Turns 8 thru 11, which snakes around the now S-shaped pit lane, now on driver's left. Unlike last year, the turn has been widened by 6ft, which has made the entrance on the the front straight coming out of turn 11 much less precarious, and much smoother.
With some serious storms having rolled through the area this week, along with a few days of heat alerts, the forecast, as per usual, is a little bit of this and a little bit of that coming into the weekend. And really, it wouldn’t be Toronto without the threat of rain on race day. Honestly, as long as it’s not a complete deluge, a bit of rain will add to the excitement of the race on Sunday.
What to Expect
This race has always been a bit of a pressure cooker, and with the season now officially well into the second half, and closing in on the championship every point counts, so the main event on the Sunday on the super tight, super fast, super tough street course. We always expect a lot of bumping and banging on this course, so we will expect a lot of cautions as on the mean streets of Toronto.
What Happened Last Time
Pole: Scott Dixon
Podium: Will Power, Helio Castroneves, James Hincliffe
Here’s what Scott Dixon, Will Power, Jack Hawksworth, and Sebastien Bourdais have had to say about the Honda Indy Toronto in the past
Swap em if you got em
This week's round of musical seats sees Spencer Pigot is back in the #20 Car at Carpenter Racing, and Mikhail Aleshin has effectively been put in the “Time Out Chair”, with Sebastian Savaadra jumping in for the weekend.
Who's the Favorite?
Power has the Toronto Hat Trick (we’re in Canada eh! Gotta have a hockey reference), Dixon has won here twice. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Newgarden have also hoisted the trophy in Toronto, with Kimball, Kanaan, and Castroneves, and Filippe, and hometown hero Hinchcliffe all making a stop on the podium. We seen some spectacular drives on this track, with drivers coming back from being dead last to winning. It's not where you start, it's where you finish. If you can get through the first lap cleanly, you're off to a great start. Survive the first and subsequent runs through turn 3 and you’re a master.
Who could surprise?
We're going to say Pigot. He's won here quite dominantly in the past in the junior formula, and he'll be working with the team and data of the 1-2 finishing team from 2015, so we expect to see him battling up front with this teammate.
If we had to pick just one?
Spidey senses say Pagenaud continues his surge towards the championship, fighting off Dixon and Bourdais.
As it Stands:
Reigning Champion: Simon Pagenaud
2017 Points Leader: Scott Dixon
2017 ROTY Leader: Alexander Rossi
2017 Manufacturers Leader: Honda
TV: NBCSN will air qualifying on Sat July 15 at 2:15pm and the race live (3:00p.m. ET Sun July 17). Kevin Lee is the lead announcer alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Jon Beekhuis, Anders Krohn, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller.
Web/radio: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer. Joining him in the booth will be analyst Davey Hamilton. All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 212, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app.
OF NOTE:Once again, Friday is "FAN FRIDAY" and is FREE courtesy of Honda Dealers of Ontario! Though all are encouraged to make a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation upon entry! (the charity associated with the weekend) New associate partner Tim Hortons is also donating 100% of the proceeds of coffee and lemonade sales on Friday at the track. If you're on the fence about coming down for the weekend, or haven't checked out the event in a while, head down on Friday to see what you're missing! You won't be disappointed. Also new this year, kids under twelve are free all weekend.
Here is the weekend IndyCar/Road to Indy schedule:
*all times local*