Friday, July 8, 2011

Toronto Preview & Predications

(Can Will Power repeat as race winner?)

Toronto Preview and Predications

INDYCAR travels north to Canada for the first of two races in July, both being held in the homeland of Alex Tagliani, James Hinchcliffe, and Paul Tracy. Toronto is the 9th round of the championship and signals the halfway point of schedule. IndyCar Garage breaks down the story lines to watch heading into the weekend.

1. Back to the right turns
The Honda Indy Toronto kicks off a stretch of three straight road/street courses and six of the next seven races will be non-ovals. Team Penske driver Will Power couldn’t be happier as his strength and background is non-oval racing. Power currently sits second in the point’s championship and trails leader Dario Franchitti by 20 points. This next stretch of races will have some drivers screaming that they hate road/street courses and others like Power smiling from ear to ear.

2. Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais return
Two long-time rivals will be back on a track that they both have taken the checkered flag at. Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais will return to the IZOD IndyCar Series with Tracy driving for Dragon Racing, and Bourdais back with Dale Coyne Racing. Both drivers are not behind the wheel of power-house teams, but both bring a fierce desire to win and be successful. Bourdais and Tracy are tied for 7th all-time in the INDYCAR record book with 31 wins a piece. Tracy won at Toronto in 1993 and 2003, and if he could win this weekend it would be his third win at a track in as many decades. Bourdais who captured four straight Champ-Car championships, won in 2004 the year of his first championship. Keep an eye on both drivers at they continue their storied INDYCAR careers.

3. A Sunday afternoon time slot that is prime for a good T.V. Rating
Everyone who follows INDYCAR knows that T.V. ratings are struggling, especially on VERSUS. Yes, in due to credit, attendances is up this year and so are A.B.C. ratings, but VERSUS ratings have been low since they started broadcasting INDYCAR races in 2009. Where am I going with this? INDYCAR’s race on Sunday at 2 p.m. will be up broadcast against? Let’s start with NASCAR, Nationwide running on Friday and Sprint Cup Saturday night. How about F1? Their race in Silverstone will be over at 2 EST on Sunday. The best outcome INDYCAR could hope for on Sunday is that somehow VERSUS can pull over a 1.0 T.V. rating for the Toronto race. How did the 2010 race far? It was on ABC and it pulled a .9, which is about what Milwaukee pulled this year as its replacement.

4. Dario eyes history
Dario Franchitti could make history this weekend if he takes the checkered flag after 85 laps. Dario, who currently holds a 20 point in the championship over Will Power, is tied for 9th on the all-time career win list with former Penske driver Rick Mears. Dario, with 29 wins could move into sole possession of 9th with his 30th INDYCAR win this weekend. Dario, who turned 38 in May, accent up the record books should be worth tracking as Al Unser Jr (34), Bobby Unser (35) and AL Unser (39) could be passed if Dario races into his 40’s.
Dario also could be only the second driver in the history of the Toronto race to win in three different decades, as only Michael Andretti, who the race seven times, was the first to accomplish the feat. Dario previously won at Toronto in 1999 and 2009.

5. Canadian flavor
Canadian race fans, traditionally are very passionate and dedicated about racing. Toronto is the first of two races in Canada, with Edmonton two weeks later. Paul Tracy, Alex Tagliani, and James Hinchcliffe are all natives of Canada and should have rock-star type following this weekend. As James Hinchcliffe says “ I’ve been going to this race since I was 18 months old, I love this track, and I love that it’s on the schedule.”

6. Randy Bernard Quotes
Randy Bernard spoke to the Canadian media last week and was quoted on several topics most notably that Chicago and California would be on the schedule next year. We know now that California will be back on the schedule in the fall of 2012, Chicago is expected to follow, possibly the weekend after the Indy 500. Bernard also mentioned that a second Brazil race and a race in China are in the works as well. China has been rumored for awhile, and while some fans are unclear or unhappy on the series going global. China reportedly is offering huge sums of money that would help INDYCAR’s bottom line. Rumors also have China wanting to build a track that is a replica to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with the track being able to hold 400,000 to 500,000 people.

7. Predications for the weekend

Indy Lights winner
– Josef Newgarden

IZOD IndyCar Firestone Fast Six – Will Power , Dario Franchitti, Justin Wilson , Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon

IZOD IndyCar Series top three finishers
1st – Justin Wilson
2nd – Scott Dixon
3rd – Will Power

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