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IndyCar: Honda Indy Toronto Preview

Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves lead the field to the green flag to start the Honda Indy Toronto. [Photo by: Chris Jones]

Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves lead the field to the green flag to start the Honda Indy Toronto. [Photo by: Chris Jones]

Honda Indy Toronto Preview
Verizon IndyCar Series Race 12/17

by Paul Gohde

For the 33rd time since 1986, Indy cars move north to race in Toronto, Canada, this time for the Verizon IndyCar Series Honda Indy Toronto on the streets near Exhibition Place, west of downtown Toronto.

Toronto Race Facts: Indy car racing is celebrating its 50th Anniversary of racing north of the U.S. border where the initial four races were USAC Molson Indy Toronto events at Mosport Park (1967-1978), with the likes of Bobby Unser, AJ Foyt and Dan Gurney scoring victories. CART brought racing back, this time to Toronto itself in 1986, followed by Champ Car, IRL and today IndyCar, which will hold Toronto race number 33 Sunday on the 1.78-mile, 11-turn temporary street course.

Michael Andretti has won here seven times from 1989-2001, while the now defunct Newman-Haas team also won seven races from 1989-2004. Will Power grabbed the one-lap qualifying record (2016, 107.564 mph) and race record (2016, 85-laps, 88.739 mph), while winning both the Pole and Race last year.

2016 Honda Molson Indy: Will Power started fourth and scored his third win of the season when he was called to the pits by Penske race-strategist Tim Cindric just before a full-course caution for Josef Newgarden’s spin closed the pits. Power came out ahead of leaders Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud and passed then race-leader Tony Kanaan with 9 laps remaining when TK was forced to stop for fuel. Power held-off Helio Castroneves on a last-lap restart to score career win number 28.

2017 So Far: Four of the 11 races that have been run were on temporary street circuits similar to Toronto and all four were won by Honda-powered cars: St. Petersburg/Sebastien Bourdais, Long Beach/Hinchcliffe, Detroit 1-2/ Graham Rahal…Point’s race: 1) Dixon -403 pts, 2) Castroneves -8, 3) Pagenaud -31, 4) Power -53, 5) Newgarden -56. Ganassi-Honda holds First place with Dixon while Team Penske Chevrolet claims the rest of the Top 5. Honda has a 100-point lead over Chevy for the overall Manufacturer’s Championship.

The Field: The usual grid of 21cars will face the green flag Sunday. Spencer Pigot is back as owner Ed Carpenter awaits the next oval races at Pocono and Gateway. Series’ rookie Ed Jones has raced here in Indy Lights before, while the other series’ rookie, Esteban Gutierrez, is coming off a strong oval track race (his first) at Iowa last week.

Notes: TV: Race, Sunday, July 16, 3 p.m. ET, CNBC (Live) /7 p.m. ET, NBCS, (re-air). Qualifying, Saturday, 6:30 p.m. ET, NBCS (same-day delay)…There have been nine different winners in the 11 previous Verizon IndyCar races held this season…19 of the 21 drivers entered at Toronto have raced in Indy cars here before…Seven Canadian tracks have hosted Indy car events since the first USAC event in 1967: Mosport, Mont Tremblant, Sanair, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto…Canadian Paul Tracy has won here three times, while hometown Toronto driver James Hinchcliffe is seeking his first victory on home soil…Spencer Pigot won an Indy Lights race here in 2015.

Our Take: Wise bettors should take a Honda-powered entry, and Graham Rahal may be the one, given his back-to-back wins on a similar track in Detroit (or Hinch if you’d like a native-Toronto winner). If Chevy upsets the Hondas, try Power or Helio since only Penske cars have won for Chevy in 2017.

The Final Word: (Graham Rahal No. 15 RLL Rousseau Metal Honda): “The course is very similar to Detroit (where he won twice in June) in many ways. It’s very bumpy, very tight, and there are no margins for error. There are a lot of different pavement types and it’s very slippery on the concrete, which is very similar to Detroit. Going with set-up basics which brought us those two wins in Detroit gives us reason to be confident heading to Toronto as hopefully it works out like it did in Detroit.”

 

 

 

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Paul Gohde
Paul Gohde heard the sound of race cars early in his life. Growing up in suburban Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin State Fair Park in the 1950's, Paul had no idea what "that noise" was all about that he heard several times a year. Finally, through prodding by friends of his parents, he was taken to several Thursday night modified stock car races on the old quarter-mile dirt track that was in the infield of the one-mile oval -and he was hooked. The first Milwaukee Mile event that he attended was the 1959 Rex Mays Classic won by Johnny Thomson in the pink Racing Associates lay-down Offy built by the legendary Lujie Lesovsky. After the 100-miler Gohde got the winner's autograph in the pits, something he couldn't do when he saw Hank Aaron hit a home run at County Stadium, and, again, he was hooked. Paul began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, and saw A. J. Foyt's first Indy win. He began covering races in 1965 for Racing Wheels newspaper in Vancouver, WA as a reporter/photographer and his first credentialed race was Jim Clark's historic Indy win.Paul has also done reporting, columns and photography for Midwest Racing News since the mid-sixties, with the 1967 Hoosier 100 being his first big race to report for them. He is a retired middle-grade teacher, an avid collector of vintage racing memorabilia, and a tour guide at Miller Park. Paul loves to explore abandoned race tracks both here and in Europe, with the Brooklands track in Weybridge England being his favorite. Married to Paula, they have three adult children and two cats. Paul loves the diversity of all types of racing, "a factor that got me hooked in the first place."