By: Tanner Watkins
July 10, 2019 | 4:00 PM
After a long summer break, the NTT IndyCar Series returns to the track this weekend with no shortage of storylines to follow.
Heading into the 13th race of the 2019 season, Josef Newgarden leads Alexander Rossi in the points chase by a scant seven-marker margin. Contenders such as Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon, Will Power and Takuma Sato all remain in contention, especially with one last double-points event looming in the season finale.
Another interesting talking point comes from inspirational Canadian driver Robert Wickens. The sensational Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports pilot will return to an NTT IndyCar Series track for the first time since a brutal August crash at Pocono Raceway – but this appearance will come in a rather unique way.
Wickens will lead the field during this weekend’s race parade laps in an Acura with hand controls to pilot the car. The experienced racer has been rehabbing rigorously since sustaining multiple injuries in the Pocono crash, and the sight of Wickens becoming involved in a race weekend in this sort of capacity is definitely a good sign.
And those are just a couple of the things to watch for this weekend! Check out these supporting headlines as well as the race Fast Facts to get you set for a street fight in Toronto.
After three consecutive years where his only start of the NTT IndyCar Series season would come at the Indianapolis 500, this year will be a little different for Pennsylvania’s Sage Karam. The Nazareth native has been hired to drive for sophomore IndyCar team Carlin in this month’s Honda Indy Toronto street race.
Karam, 24, will drive the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet with sponsorship by SmartStop Self Storage, a storage chain located throughout Canada and the United States. SmartStop Self Storage has been a personal partner with Karam over the years, helping cultivate this one-off entry.
“We are extremely excited to partner with SmartStop Self Storage and to be a part of their debut into the NTT IndyCar Series. The Honda Indy Toronto is such a great event and will be the perfect introduction for them into the series,” said Team Principal Trevor Carlin.
“We’ve obviously been following Sage’s career closely since he won the Indy Lights Championship in 2013 and he’s done a really great job. I think he’ll be a great addition to the team and a good teammate for Max (on) this weekend.” Read More!
Last year, rookie Andretti Autosport driver Zach Veach had one top-ten finish to his NTT IndyCar Series resume heading into the Toronto race weekend. His seventh-place finish in Canada kicked off a stretch of four consecutive top-ten results in 2018 – also moving Veach up two spots in the championship by years’ end.
Looking ahead to this year’s edition of the Honda Indy Toronto, Veach is counting on another strong weekend north of the border to make something out of this season’s second half.
“Toronto was a place that started a really strong second half of the season for us last year with a seventh-place finish followed by consecutive top 10s the next three races,” said Veach on Monday.
“We really need that same momentum again this year. We’ve spent a lot of time preparing for this race and I’m excited to get our one trip out of the United States started.”
Heading into this weekend’s event, Veach is sitting in a similar position to this time last year. Thus far, the No. 26 Honda driver is 18th in points compared to 17th heading into Toronto 2018, and Veach has two top-tens to date in 2019 compared to the one he had last year before the Canada race.
With that being said, 2019 has been more eventful for Veach in both good and bad ways. The first half of the year saw Veach pushing hard in practice and qualifications sessions in an attempt to build on a consistent and steady rookie season in 2018. The result of that added effort often produced mistakes and overall sloppy preparation.
Moving into the season’s second half, Veach has cleaned up the weekend execution a bit and was rewarded at the last IndyCar street course event where he picked up two eighth-place finishes at Detroit – his only top-tens of 2019. Read More!
Honda Indy Toronto Fast Facts
Race weekend: Friday, July 12 – Sunday, July 14
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
2018 race winner: Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Honda)
2018 NTT P1 Award winner: Josef Newgarden (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet), 59.4956 seconds, 108.068 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, 2 p.m. ET Saturday, July 13 (live); Race, 3 p.m. ET Sunday, July 14, NBCSN/Sportsnet 1 (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, Kevin Lee, Dillon Welch 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, Rob Blackman and Rob Howden reporting from the pits. All NTT IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 219, XM 202, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. Live coverage of NTT IndyCar Series qualifying is available on Sirius 219, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.
NBC Sports Gold livestreaming: All NTT IndyCar Series practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports’ direct-to-consumer livestreaming product.
At-track schedule (all times local):
Friday, July 12
11:05 – 11:50 a.m. – NTT IndyCar Series practice #1, NBC Sports Gold (live)
3:15 – 4 p.m. – NTT IndyCar Series practice #2, NBC Sports Gold (live)
Saturday, July 13
10:20 – 11:05 a.m. – NTT IndyCar Series practice #3, NBC Sports Gold (live)
2 p.m. – Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (three rounds of knockout qualifying), NBCSN (live), NBC Sports Gold (live).
Sunday, July 15
12:15 – 12:45 p.m. – NTT IndyCar Series warmup, NBC Sports Gold (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 1 (Live)
Header image by Chris Owens/INDYCAR.