The IZOD Indycar Series ventures north to Canada for the next two races in the 2011 championship, with the streets of Toronto playing host.
With this race being the halfway point in the season, there are plenty of talking points worth covering in the build-up to this weekend’s event, as our IndyCar correspondent, Matt Lennon, writes in his preview of the Honda Indy Toronto…
Following a nasty crash at Iowa two weeks ago, Will Power has probably had a headache or two, but although being cleared to race again by IndyCar medical officials, he will be no less sore over the 20-point lead in the championship race that Dario Franchitti has opened up. Although Power is arguably the stronger of the two on the road and street courses, a 20-point lead is tough to pull back against a proven champion like Franchitti who is, above all, consistent in his results. The two drivers share the spoils from the last three races here, with Power the defending race winner.
Toronto has provided a challenging course, quite bumpy in parts, every year since the first event in 1986, won by Bobby Rahal. His son Graham, after a less than competitive beginning to the season, has now found his comfort zone within the Service Central Ganassi team and has been extremely quick the last few races, qualifying much closer to the front, challenging for victories at the back end of races, and proving to be a previously unforseen headache for rivals. Will this weekend be the one Graham breaks through for his first win since St Petersburg in 2008.
The Canadian fans are usually blinded in passionate adulation towards one man though. Paul Tracy, the “Thrill from West Hill”, is by far the home-town favourite. In many previous years though, Tracy has been in much more competitive machinery than he will be this weekend with Dragon Racing, so unless there is a major pile-up at the front, involving all the Penske, Ganassi, Andretti and KV cars, I doubt we will see much of PT except on all the posters and race-hyping paraphernalia. Perhaps in with a better chance are the other two Canadians in the field, being Alex Tagliani and James Hinchcliffe. As long as they can stay out of trouble in the usual Turn 3 hairpin at the end of Lake Shore Boulevard, the Sam Schmidt and Newman Haas entries may just post a surprise.
It all goes down this Sunday (Monday morning AEST) from the streets of Exhibition Place, Toronto. Who will take home the trophy in 2011?
[Images via LAT]