NTT Indy Car Series: Honda Indy Toronto Preview

by Paul Gohde

It has been almost three years since the Indy Car Series crossed the border into Canada to race on the streets of Toronto; the past postponements due to widespread fear of spreading Covid-19. But this Sunday the border is open, and the Indy cars will race past Exhibition Place for the 36th time in the Honda Indy Toronto; race ten on the 2022 schedule.

Race Facts: The 11-turn, 1.786-mile temporary street circuit near the shores of Lake Ontario is a tight run for 25 open wheel cars to stay out of each other’s way over 85 laps (151.81 miles). Room in the pits is also at a premium here, but at least the grid is down two cars from this season’s usual entry of 27.

Recent Race History: The latest Toronto race occurred in 2019 when pole winner Simon Pagenaud/Team Penske led 80/85 laps (Zach Veach led four and Takuma Sato one), losing the lead only during pit stops. Despite dominating the race as the leader, Pagenaud beat Scott Dixon by just 0.137 seconds with Alexander Rossi third, down 4.372 seconds. Pagenaud set a record in qualifying at 58.4129 seconds (110.072 mph). Other recent winners here include Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden and Will Power…Bobby Rahal won the inaugural run in a 1986 CART race.

 2022 Season So Far: Driver Points after nine races: 1) Marcus Ericsson, (321 points, 1win)…2) Will Power, (301, 1)…3) Josef Newgarden, (287, 3)…4) Alex Palou, (286)…5) Pato O’Ward, (256, 1). Other race winners: Scott McLaughlin, (2), Colton Herta, (1).

Manufacturer Points: Chevrolet: (769 points, 7 wins)…Honda: (685, 2).

Race Entries: A season low 25 entries were received for Toronto. Tatiana Calderone’s AJ Foyt entry was withdrawn as sponsorship funds were apparently not sent in time, possibly putting the team’s remaining season schedule in jeopardy. Simona De Silvestro has a three-race contract with Paretta Autosport, her next race being the Nashville street race.

Notes: TV: For those with a subscription to the Peacock Premium streaming service, the Toronto telecast will air beginning at 3:00 pm ET…Alex Palou must be in a quandary as both Chip Ganassi Racing (his current team) and McLaren Racing apparently claim to have him under contract for the 2023 season. Palou says that CGR made the announcement without his approval and that he’ll be with McLaren next season. This should be interesting…Two Canadian drivers, Dalton Kellett and Devin DeFrancesco, are entered at Toronto…The Toronto race is the second longest running Indy Car street race, behind only Long Beach…Toronto is the only international event on the 2022 Indy Car schedule…35 drivers have earned points so far in IC events this season…Beginning with Toronto, Indy Car has five races scheduled in the next 22 days…Some insiders project that a 2023 Indy Car grid could have up to 28 cars with Juncos, Coyne and McLaren prime candidates to add entries, though the Foyt sponsorship situation could possibly cut into that projection.

Our Take: When interest builds for a racing series and five consecutive events are scheduled in the upcoming weeks, it is hard to understand why Indy Car would have agreed to have the return of the popular Toronto race telecast over Peacock Premium, a streaming channel of NBC. Not being a subscriber to that streaming outlet, I, and I would guess many others, are likely to be shut out from viewing the race. A better deal between NBC and Indy Car should have been made, if possible, no matter how many races during the season are scheduled on NBC’s Network. I guess I’ll watch the Tour De France bicycle race Sunday instead.

“They Said It”: 2019 Toronto race winner Simon Pagenaud: “I can’t wait to go to Toronto this weekend. It was a great event last time I was there in 2019 when I won the race. I love the rhythm of the track. It’s a weekend I look forward to for good reason. We have an amazing street course package and I feel comfortable there.”

Next Race: Iowa Speedway (Doubleheader), July 23-24




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