As the Verizon IndyCar Series summer slate rolls on, the circuit travels north of the border to Canada for the Honda Indy Toronto!
A stark contrast to last week’s bullring battle at the 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway oval, drivers will be tested on an 11-turn, 1.786-mile street course that runs through the heart of Toronto. The hometown fans will have more than enough to cheer for this weekend as well with two aces in the hole.
Bouncing back from heartbreak in the fashion that he only can, James Hinchcliffe avenged his Indianapolis 500 disaster earlier in the season by capturing victory last Sunday at Iowa Speedway.
The Canadian driver took control of the race in its last stanza and held serve until the 300th and final lap, his first victory since Long Beach back in April of 2017. After taking the checkers on Sunday, Hinchcliffe is still feeling the energy from his breakthrough moment.
“It’s been pretty nonstop since the win in Iowa, but the momentum we have is hopefully going to carry over into the race this weekend in Toronto,” Hinchcliffe explained. “It’s always so special to be able to race in front of my hometown, and I’m really looking forward to sharing that with Robbie (Wickens).
“The support coming home is always so incredible. The Arrow Electronics crew have been working really hard all year, and after the win, we are all hungrier than ever.”
Not to be forgotten, Canada’s rising IndyCar star Robert Wickens has been mighty quick in 2018 as a series rookie and has been close to victory on more than one occasion.
Currently 6th in the championship standings, Wickens leads former series champions Simon Pagenaud, Sebastien Bourdais and Tony Kanaan in his first season. Could this be the storybook first victory for the former DTM driver?
“I can’t express enough how excited I am to race the Lucas Oil car in front of my hometown in Toronto,” said Wickens. “The team is coming off a great result in Iowa with both cars in the top five and James’ (Hinchcliffe) win. It’s already been a crazy week here, and the rest of the week is going to be so much fun.
“I can’t wait to get my helmet on and get on with practice because it’s a track I’ve always wanted to drive an Indy car on. It’s a bucket list item of mine to race as a professional driver in front of my hometown, so I’m really looking forward to checking that off the list.”
Finally, while Hinchcliffe and Wickens garner much of the “Team Canada” spotlight there is one driver not to be forgotten. Despite less-than-stellar finishing results in his eight starts this season, Zachary Claman de Melo gives Canadians a raw prospect to cheer for as he finds footing this the ruthless Verizon IndyCar Series.
Claman de Melo has quietly been improving with the No. 19 Paysafe team and was pushing for a top five finish at Texas in June. He finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix back in May and is capable of putting together a solid street race if he can stay out of trouble.
“I’m extremely excited to go to Toronto,” Claman de Melo said. “I have a lot of friends and family there that will be watching, so it’s a really special race for me. I love the track and I think it should be a fun race.
“I got a double podium in Toronto last year in Indy Lights, so hopefully I can be strong there again and get a really good result for the team in front of my friends and family.”
Checking back in on the championship, New Zealand’s Scott Dixon continues to lead the field with a 33-point advantage over defending champion Josef Newgarden. Dixon’s 12th place finish last week at Iowa broke a string of six consecutive finishes inside the top five.
Newgarden is the defending winner of this Toronto race.
Andretti Autosport drivers Alexander Rossi (4th) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (5th) aren’t far behind, and Indianapolis 500 winner Will Power is just 53 points from the championship lead – a gap that can be closed with seven races (one of which being double points) remaining.
For Power, visiting Toronto is a welcome sight: the Australian native has won this race three times, more than any other active driver.
“I’m really looking forward to going to Toronto,” Power stated this week. “I’ve won there three times, so I know myself and the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet team feel strong there. I know it’s been resurfaced so it’s always a fun track. It’s going to be very tough with there being so many good cars now… I think it’s going to be good with the new car.
“The racing at Iowa was phenomenal. There were so many passes. It was amazing. It’s going to be really exciting for the fans there to watch and will be fun for all us racing (at Toronto).”
Action on the downtown street circuit kicks off Friday morning with practice starting at 10:40 a.m. Eastern. All of the action on Friday can be seen live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com, with commentary courtesy of the INDYCAR Radio Network.
The green flag for the 34th Honda Indy Toronto will fly on Sunday, July 15 at 3:42 p.m. Eastern. The race will be shown live on NBCSN and through your INDYCAR Radio Network affiliates, plus Sirius 217 and XM 209.
Additionally, in Canada the race can be seen live on SportsNet 360 on Sunday.
Honda Indy Toronto fast facts
Race weekend: Friday, July 13 – Sunday, July 15
Track: Streets of Toronto’s Exhibition Place, an 11-turn, 1.786-mile temporary street course
Race distance: 85 laps / 151.81 miles
Entry List: Honda Indy Toronto (PDF)
Push-to-pass parameters: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.
Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate. Teams must use one set of primary and one new set of alternate tires in the race.
Twitter: @HondaIndy, @IndyCar, #IndyTO, #INDYCAR
Event website: www.HondaIndyToronto.com
INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com
2017 race winner: Josef Newgarden (No. 2 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet)
2017 Verizon P1 Award winner: Simon Pagenaud (No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet), 58.9124 seconds, 109.138 mph
Qualifying record: Gil de Ferran, 57.143 seconds, 110.565 mph, July 17, 1999 (Note: Simon Pagenaud set a qualifying mark of 58.9124 seconds, 109.138 mph, for the current layout in 2017.)
NBCSN television broadcasts: Qualifying, 5 p.m. ET Saturday, July 14 (same-day delay); Race, 3 p.m. ET Sunday, July 15, NBCSN/Sportsnet 360 (live). Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for the NBCSN broadcasts this weekend alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Jon Beekhuis, Katie Hargitt, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller.
Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Anders Krohn. Jake Query and Nick Yeoman are the turn announcers with Dave Furst and Rob Howden reporting from the pits.
The Verizon IndyCar Series race is broadcast live on network affiliates, Sirius 217, XM 209,IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app. All Verizon IndyCar Series practice and qualifying sessions are available on IndyCar.com, indycarradio.comand on the INDYCAR Mobile app, with qualifying also available on Sirius 219 and XM 209.
Video streaming: All practice sessions and qualifying for the Honda Indy Toronto will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com and on the INDYCAR YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/indycar).
At-track schedule (all times Eastern):
Friday, July 13
10:40 – 11:25 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)
2:30 – 3:15 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #2, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)
Saturday, July 14
9:50 – 10:35 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #3, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)
1:55 p.m. – Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (three rounds of knockout qualifying), RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live); NBCSN (same-day delay, 5 p.m. ET)
Sunday, July 15
11:40 a.m. – 12:10 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series warmup, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)
2:57 p.m. – Driver introductions
3:35 p.m. – Command to start engines
3:42 p.m. – Honda Indy Toronto (85 laps/151.81 miles), NBCSN/SportsNet 360 (Live)
Fast facts courtesy of INDYCAR Media. Image courtesy of Chris Owens/INDYCAR.