Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Track Walk: Toronto 2016

IndyCar and Toronto celebrate an anniversary
IndyCar and Toronto hits a milestone this year as 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the legendary street race. There have been for different winners in the last four Toronto races. Josef Newgarden won last year at Toronto and heads to Exhibition Place coming off a victory at Iowa, which has elevated him to second in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship, 73 points behind Team Penske's Simon Pagenaud. Newgarden could become the first driver to win consecutive races at Toronto since Scott Dixon swept the 2013 doubleheader. This is the final street circuit race of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

Time: Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday July 17th. Green flag at 3:08 p.m. ET.
TV Channel: CNBC.
Announcers: Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy will be in the booth. Kevin Lee, Jon Beekhuis, Kate Hargitt and Robin Miller will work the pit lane.

IndyCar Weekend Schedule
First Practice: 10:00 a.m.-10:45 p.m. ET (45 minutes).
Second Practice: 2:30-3:15 p.m. ET (45 minutes).
Final Practice: 9:30-10:45 a.m. ET (45 minutes).
Qualifying: 1:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN will have live coverage of this session).
Warm-Up: 10:30-11:00 a.m. ET (30 minutes).
Race: 3:08 p.m. ET (85 laps).

Penske Dominating 2016; Needs a Breakthrough at Toronto
Through ten races, Team Penske has six victories, nine pole positions and 14 podiums and while Simon Pagenaud leads the championship, Will Power is third and Hélio Castroneves is fifth. Team Penske is having the season in 2016 everyone expected in 2015 but now the team heads to a track they have only one victory at since 2009 and has won only two of 32 previous Toronto.

Will Power has won at Toronto twice and won driving for Penske in 2010 but the Australian has had a teeter-totter relationship with Exhibition Place. While having two victories, four podiums and five top fives in 11 Toronto starts, he has four finishes of 15th or worse. He has started in the top five in eight times at Toronto and he has led a lap in eight Toronto starts.

Hélio Castroneves has also made 11 starts at Toronto but success has come in recent years. After his best finish being tenth in his first seven Toronto starts, the Brazilian has two podiums and five top tens in his last six Toronto races. He has started no worse than seven at Toronto since 2012.

Simon Pagenaud has been all over the place at Toronto. His best finish is fourth, which has occurred on two occasions but his next best finish is ninth while he has an 11th and two 12th place finishes. He has started fourth, third and second in his last three Toronto starts but he has only led 30 laps at Toronto and hasn't led since the first race in 2014.

Iowa hasn't been kind to Juan Pablo Montoya and the Colombian heads to another thorn in his side in Toronto. Montoya's seventh last year was his first top ten at Toronto in five starts. His previous finishes at Toronto were 22nd, 24th, 18th and 19th and he has never led a lap at the track. His average starting position at Toronto is 8.4 but with a 22nd starting position in the first race in 2014 skewing the numbers. Removing that 22nd, his average starting position is 5.0.

Honda Needs "Homefield" Advantage
Honda has one victory from the first ten races and while it was the Indianapolis 500, it will only be an anomaly. The manufacture needs to start racking up victories to at least make 2016 appear competitive in the history books. If Honda is going to win a race, it mind as well be the race it sponsors.

Graham Rahal nearly won the other race Honda sponsors at Barber. Had it not been for the back marker of Jack Hawksworth, Rahal would have won that day and not had to nurse a car home to a second place finish with the left portion of his front wing missing. Rahal finished ninth last year but his average Toronto finish is 14.0 in tenth starts and his best finish is fifth and his average starting position isn't much better at 12.4.

James Hinchcliffe will be the lone Canadian in the lone Canadian race on the IndyCar schedule. While the race is in his backyard, Hinchcliffe's best finish is eighth on two occasions and ironically both those came in the second half of Toronto's lone two doubleheaders in 2013 and 2014. His best start at Toronto is eighth and that came in the second race in 2014 after the field was set by points. He has never led a lap at home and has one lead lap finish.

It may be surprising to some to find out the Honda driver with the best average finish at Toronto is Marco Andretti. Andretti's average finish of 9.6 is behind only Sébastien Bourdais (5.7) and Scott Dixon (8.1) among active drivers. He has two top fives and six top tens in nine starts despite having an average starting position of 15.6. Ryan Hunter-Reay won at Toronto in 2012 but in the five races since his victory his finishes at Toronto have been 18th, 19th, 21st, 21st, 14th and 19th. Carlos Muñoz has the worst average finish among active drivers at 18.2 after three 17th place finishes and a 22nd in four starts.

Road to Indy
All three Road to Indy Series will be in action at Toronto.

Indy Lights is fresh off of a race at Iowa won by Félix Serrallés after the Puerto Rican passed Zach Veach late in the race while navigating lapped traffic. Ed Jones finished third at Iowa and extended his championship lead to 23 points over Dean Stoneman, who finished fourth at Iowa. Santiago Urrutia finished fifth at Iowa but trails Jones by 29 points. Serrallés is 36 points behind Jones with Veach in fifth, 40 points behind the Carlin driver.

Kyle Kaiser finished sixth for the third consecutive race and for the fifth time in the last seven races. Fittingly enough Kaiser is sixth in the championship, 46 points behind Jones. Shelby Blackstock is seventh in the championship on 138 points, 97 points behind Jones. André Negrão is a point behind Blackstock with Canadian Zachary Claman DeMelo returning home ninth in the championship on 130 points. Felix Rosenqvist has missed the last three races due to Mercedes commitments but he is still tenth in the championship on 120 points and is a point ahead of Juan Piedrahita, who hasn't missed a race this season. Canadian Dalton Kellett is three points behind Piedrahita. Neil Alberico sits on 116 points. Garret Grist returns for his second Indy Lights weekend. He finished seventh and tenth at his debut weekend at Road America.

Indy Lights will race at 12:25 p.m. ET on Saturday and at 11:15 a.m. ET on Sunday.

After winning five consecutive races and six of the first seven Pro Mazda races this season, Pato O'Ward still comfortably leads the championship despite finishing fourth in both Road America races and Aaron Telitz sweeping the weekend. Telitz is 28 points behind his Team Pelfrey teammate. Will Owen has four podiums in five races and is 90 points behind O'Ward. Nico Jamin trails O'Ward by 99 points with Nicolas Dapero 119 points back of the Mexican driver. Jake Parsons is two points behind Dapero. TJ Fischer finished fifth and sixth in his Pro Mazda debut weekend at Road America.

The first Pro Mazda race will be at 5:20 p.m. ET on Saturday with race two at 9:25 a.m. ET on Sunday.

There is a tied atop the U.S. F2000 championship Anthony Martin has won three consecutive races and is level with Canadian Parker Thompson on 217 points. Thompson has also won three races this season. Thompson owns the tiebreaker with two second place finishes to Martin's none. Victor Franzoni is 43 points behind Martin and Thompson and the Brazilian five podiums this season but has yet to win a race. Jordan Lloyd sits fourth in the championship on 160 points with Luke Gabin rounding out the top five on 149 points. Yufeng Luo is sixth in the championship with 135 points. Robert Mengennis is the top American in the championship, sitting in seventh with 129 points.

U.S. F2000 will race at 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday and 8:25 a.m. ET on Sunday.

Fast Facts
This will be the 13th IndyCar race to take place on July 17th and first since 2005 when Sébastien Bourdais won the inaugural Grand Prix of Edmonton.

Toronto has been run on July 17th twice before. Al Unser, Jr. won there in 1988 and Michael Andretti won there in 1994.

Honda has not won at Toronto since Scott Dixon swept the 2013 doubleheader.

Sébastien Bourdais has two victories, five podiums, eight top fives and 11 top tens in 12 Toronto starts. Bourdais has never started worse than tenth at Toronto.

Alexander Rossi and Max Chilton will be making their Toronto debuts. Chilton did not run at Toronto last year in Indy Lights because he was racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Nissan.

Luca Filippi returns to the #19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda after Gabby Chaves ran the last six races for the team. Filippi finished second last year at Toronto. His best finish in his first four races with Dale Coyne Racing was 17th at Long Beach.

Takuma Sato has finished 20th or worse in five of eight Toronto starts but he has finished fifth and tenth in his last two races at Exhibition Place. Last year, Sato qualified a career best eighth at Toronto.

Jack Hawksworth has completed 206 laps out of 206 laps in his three Toronto starts. His best finish at the track is sixth.

Spencer Pigot swept last year's Indy Lights races.

The Toronto track record is 57.143 seconds set by Gil de Ferran in 1999.

The average starting position for a Toronto winner is 3.87 with a median of three.

The last two Toronto races have been won from 11th on the grid.

Toronto could join Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the only active IndyCar track with three consecutive winners starting outside the top ten ten. Mid-Ohio could also join Indianapolis Motor Speedway with that feat.

The Milwaukee Mile had three consecutive winners from outside the top ten from 1959-1960. Rodger Ward won from 19th in the August 1959 race. Ward then won from 11th on the grid the following June. Len Sutton would win the August 1960 race from 11th on the grid.

The furthest back a Toronto winner has come from is 13th (Michael Andretti 2001).

The average number of lead changes at Toronto is 4.09 with a median of four.

The average number of cautions at Toronto is 3.645 with a median of three. The average number of caution laps is 14.806 with a median of 13.

Possible Milestones:
Scott Dixon needs to lead 10 laps to reach the 4,800 laps led milestone and he needs to lead 75 laps to pass Bobby Unser for sixth all-time in laps led.

Tony Kanaan needs to lead 22 laps to reach the 4,000 laps led milestone.

Will Power needs to lead 1 lap to reach the 3,000 laps led milestone.

Sébastien Bourdais needs to lead 47 laps to reach the 2,500 laps led milestone.

Marco Andretti needs to lead 10 laps to reach the 1,000 laps led milestone.

James Hinchcliffe needs to lead 49 laps to reach the 500 laps led milestone.

Takuma Sato needs to lead 64 laps to reach the 500 laps led milestone.

Scott Dixon takes the victory over Sébastien Bourdais and Will Power. A Honda will finish in the top five and Andretti Autosport has at least two cars finish in the top ten. One driver in the top seven of the championship finishes 18th or worse. One driver 15th or worse in the championship finishes eighth or better. Team Penske does not win pole position this weekend and at least one Penske driver starts outside the top ten. One driver jumps three positions forward or falls three positions back in the championship after this race. Sleeper: Marco Andretti.