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Jul 10, 2013 - 06:28 PM
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Toronto IndyCar Race Going Through Changes
Posted by: BGerhart on Jul 10, 2013 - 06:28 PM
Feature Articles
Toronto IndyCar Race Going Through Changes


By Brad Gerhart

IndyCar returns to the streets of Toronto for the fifth time since unification with an added twist to the 11 turn 1.75 mile track. Standing Starts and a two race weekend for double the action and double the championship points in the lone Canadian stop for the 2013 season.

All those that follow the IZOD IndyCar Series are very interested to see how Saturday’s standing start race begins with a lot of the field not too familiar with this particular starting method, and some have not attempted it in a long time. The series has not given drivers a lot of time to practice the standing starts.

Although Panther Racing’s Ryan Briscoe grew up racing with the standing starts, it hasn’t come up too often since he’s been racing in North America. “The last time I did it was running V-8 Supercars last year when I went down there and ran two races,” Briscoe said. “It’s certainly going to be more difficult in the IndyCar with the hand clutch, but it’s new for everybody. There are lots of people who’ve never done them or have little experience doing them, but it will be the same for all of us doing it for the first time in IndyCar.”

 

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Ryan Hunter-Reay currently sits second in the championship, behind Helio Castroneves and has virtually no experience with standing starts and he‘s a little bit uncertain of how things will turn out. “There's a lot of anticipation and nerves leading up to that on the team's part, manufacturers and drivers, so that should be interesting,” Hunter-Reay said. The Andretti Autosport driver has an impressive streak of three straight Toronto podium finishes (first last season and third the previous two), he’ll need a good start to continue his streak.

Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing drivers, James Jakes and Graham Rahal disagree with each other in regards to the standing starts concept. Rahal is more of a traditional driver and appreciates the rolling starts, whereas Jakes is extremely excited about the standing starts. “I believe we should be doing on every street and road course,” he said. Its been quite some time since their last standing start race. (Jakes at Monza in 2010 and Rahal at the Champ Car Long Beach series finale in 2008).

Son of seven time Toronto race winner, Michael Andretti, Macro wants to put his past Toronto frustrations behind him and stand atop of the podium like his dad did so many times in the great city of Toronto. He finished one lap down in 16th last year and has only one top-five in four Toronto races (fourth in 2011). However, he does realize that with the way the last few Toronto events went he’ll need a superb qualifying effort to minimize risk and other drivers mistakes with the standing starts. “I think it's going to be an attrition race with a lot of carnage so we need to qualify the Dr Pepper Chevy up front and try to stay out of the mess,” Andretti said.

Roughly 20 miles away in the town of Oakville is where three-time season winner James Hinchcliffe grew up. The Canadian driver stated that the Toronto race played a big part in his childhood and was one of the main reasons why he became a race car driver. Last weekend Hinchcliffe crashed on the first lap from the front row and lost a lot of ground in the championship. But, his fan base has increased since his move over to Andretti and he’s on the verge of superstardom in the open wheel racing world.

“The support back home has just been incredible this year. More than anything, I want to give the Canadian fans something good to cheer for and something to celebrate because they are the best, and they've been so good to me over the last few years and I want to repay them,” said Hinchcliffe. Only one other Canadian claimed victory in the 26 running’s of the Toronto event, that of course being Toronto native Paul Tracy in 1993 and in his 2003 Champ Car championship season.

The Detroit doubleheader proved to be totally chaotic and Toronto should not be any different. Tempers flared on several different occasions over the past Toronto races, to put two races on the same weekend on the tight streets of Toronto, things might get out of control by the time the weekends over.


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