The Frontstretch: IndyCar In-Depth: Toronto Doubleheader Weekend by Matt Stallknecht -- Friday July 12, 2013

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IndyCar In-Depth: Toronto Doubleheader Weekend

Matt Stallknecht · Friday July 12, 2013

 

Whats News?

The streets of Toronto will play host to Rounds 12 and 13 of the IZOD IndyCar Series season, and after a successful return outing to Pocono Raceway last Sunday, the teams and drivers will look to bridge that momentum across the border and into a pivotal doubleheader weekend. Scott Dixon and Ganassi Racing finally got the monkey off their back this season with a podium sweep in Pocono, and suddenly Dixon has vaulted himself into the title race alongside season-long contenders Helio Castroneves, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Marco Andretti. On the news front, torrential rains and storms plagued the Toronto area earlier this week, causing mass flooding that threatened to affect the weekend. Race organizers are confident that the track will be ready to go for both races, but it wouldn’t be unheard of to see a weeper develop as a result of the rains, and as such the track conditions will bear watching this weekend. Other than that, it was a rather slow news week in the open wheel racing world.

Ryan Hunter-Reay won last year’s race in Toronto. Can he do it again and perhaps take the advantage in the championship battle?

Track Preview: Streets of Toronto

Located in the popular Exhibition Place district of the city of Toronto, the Toronto Street Circuit is one of the longest running street races on the Indy calendar. At only 1.755 miles in length plotted over 11 turns, the track is naturally very technical and has a great deal of narrow stop and start sections that are quite a challenge to the driver. As such, this race tends to see a lot of wrecks, and you can be sure to see even more of them this year due to the doubleheader weekend format. Ryan Hunter-Reay won this event last year, and you can be sure that he will be a factor again this year given the strength of Andretti Autosport.

What’s the Points (Driver Standings):

Helio Castroneves has settled into a groove at the top of the series standings. He carries a 23 point advantage over Ryan Hunter-Reay heading into the weekend. Marco Andretti is 3rd in the standings and sits 55 markers behind Castroneves. Scott Dixon is still in the hunt, albeit barely, with a 65 point deficit to Castroneves. James Hinchcliffe rounds out the top 5.

Featured Driver: Scott Dixon

It’s been a rather bleak year for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, but don’t tell that to ace driver Scott Dixon. Despite piloting cars that are clearly off from what he is used to performance wise, Dixon has dug his heels in and driven his car to the absolute limit this year, sitting a miraculous 4th in points with a car that is objectively about 10th or 11th fastest on the grid. Dixon’s victory last week in Pocono was a testament to his grittiness, as Dixon and his team exercised fuel strategy to grind out a win on a weekend in which it seemed certain that the Ganassi cars were off the pace. Scott Dixon is proving this year that he is a top flight talent in this sport, and he may still have a dog in the championship fight to boot.

Weekly Race Picks:

I am going with Will Power to take the win in both races this Sunday in a return to his old form. Toni Montgomery went with James Hinchcliffe in Race 1 and Simon Pagenaud in Race 2. P. Huston Ladner took the safe route, drafting defending race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay in Race 1 and Justin Wilson in Race 2

Any Other News:

Stay tuned on Saturday afternoon for the Firestone Indy Lights Series event, as it will serve as the undercard to the Saturday IZOD IndyCar Series event of that day. Rising star Carlos Munoz and other young up and comers will be in that race, and as such it offers a good chance to see these guys before they start transitioning into the big leagues. That race will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network at 11:45 a.m. EST.

Upcoming:

After the Toronto weekend, the IZOD IndyCar Series will be taking a lengthy break before returning on Sunday August 4th for the Honda Mid-Ohio 200. You can catch the race that Sunday on the NBC Sports Network or Sirius/XM Channel 211 at 3 PM EST.

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