Friday, July 8, 2011

Honda Indy Toronto Preview

This week, the IZOD IndyCar Series begins its swing through Canada by going to the Honda Indy Toronto. It’s the first of three twisty races in a row, and should mean big things in Will Power’s battle to topple Dario Franchitti from the top of the points standings. Plus, it’s a chance for the Canadian drivers to bask in the adoring glow of their countrymen! Here’s just a few of the stories to follow this weekend:

Indy Lights Update: That Sam Schmidt #77 entry this weekend will be driven by Daniel Herrington. Peter Demspey will be in a one-off ride with Andretti Autosport. Bruno Andrade will join Duarte Ferreira with Bryan Herta Autosport. Josef Newgarden’s opened up a 46-point lead over Esteban Guerrieri, but he’ll can’t afford a slipup. Don’t count out Victor Garcia (looking for his second win) or Stefan Wilson (looking for his first), either.

Welcome Back, Paul!: For the first time since Indy, we get to see Paul Tracy back on the track. This time, he’s with Dragon Racing, who we last saw missing qualifying with both cars in the Indy 500. Frankly, the team has looked lost at times this year, but you can bet PT will get every ounce he can out of this car—especially on a Canadian course!

Andretti Resurgent?: Fresh off Marco’s win at Iowa, Andretti Autosport would seem to be in a prime position for a strong rebound from some of their earlier woes. Marco has the potential to be strong at any track, Conway’s a wiz on the road and street courses, and Ryan Hunter-Reay has finally shown some signs of life. We’ll see if any of them can get in the front this weekend.

Not Helio’s Track: As I mentioned over at INDYCAR Nation, Toronto has never been kind to Helio Castroneves. As I wrote over at IndyCar Nation, Helio crashed out in 2010 (P24), and finished P18 in 2009. What's more, going back to when he ran here in CART, he only finished one out of four races. If he gets his first win of the season here, he’ll be bucking history.

Helio's record at Toronto is pretty rough.
(Courtesy IndyCar Media)
Paging Justin Wilson: This has been a relatively poor season for Wilson, but Toronto has always been one of his best courses. If he’s going to get his next IndyCar win this year, a dark horse run this weekend might be his best bet.

Rookie Time: The battle for Rookie of the Year swings back to the ovals, where James Hinchcliffe has so far held an advantage over JR Hildebrand. If Charlie Kimball wants to be a part of that fight, he needs to show than he has so far, starting this weekend. Meanwhile, Ana Beatriz, James Jakes, and Sebastian Saavedra having to just be hoping for some sustained, incident-free finishes right now.

Pole Position: Will Power. Should we just rename it Power Position for the non-ovals?

Winner: I just missed with a KV car winning last race, so I’m going to keep the underdog picks a’comin’. I say one of the Newman/Haas drivers finally gets it done this week. And there will be much rejoicing.

Quick Note: I saw yesterday that Patrick Carpentier is calling it a career. He never really seemed to make it all click after Champ Car, but it was great to see him at Indy once again this year as he tried to get Dragon Racing’s car up to speed. I wish the result had been different, but he’s walking away in his own time, which I greatly respect. Godspeed, Patrick, and I hope your last race next one sees you go out on a winning note.

Have an awesome IndyCar-filled weekend! We'll see you back here on Monday!

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