The IZOD IndyCar Series invades the streets of Toronto for the 26th time this weekend with the aptly titled Honda Indy 2 in TO to reflect the doubleheader weekend.
Toronto has been a championship shaker in the past. In 2011, Dario Franchitti made contact with Will Power while fighting for position. That put Power down in the running order and was subsequently taken out in another accident which dampened his championship chances. Last season, Ryan Hunter-Reay’s 3rd straight win and Power getting caught up in a late race calamity gave Hunter-Reay the boost he needed to win his 1st series title. In 2007, while the race was run under Champ Car sanction rain added a variable to the race. Championship contenders Sebastian Bourdais and Robert Doornbos made contact on lap 67. Doornbos continued, while Bourdais was taken out. At the end of the day, Doornbos was leading the standings while Bourdais fell to third only a few points back. Race winner Will Power pulled himself back into championship contention as well.
This weekend will have two more curveballs- a standing start on Saturday’s race and the Doubleheader itself. A standing start has not been used since the 2008 Champ Car Finale at Long Beach nor has it been actively practiced in IndyCar since then. Only Graham Rahal, Will Power, Alex Tagliani, Justin Wilson, Sebastien Bourdais and Justin Wilson have experience on standing starts in an Indy Car (they took part in Champ Car in 2007).
As far as thinking outside the box and trying something new, I embrace the standing start idea for 1 race of the Doubleheader weekend. It is a gimmick, but it is only being used for 1 of the 2 races here in Toronto and Houston later in the year. With that it mind, it is worth a try. It’s one of those things that we will have to wait and see how it plays out.
The Doubleheader makes both an opportunity to gain points and an opportunity to lose points. Two bad days in two days can lead to a freefall in the points standings. On the flip side, a driver who has two good days can capitalize and pick up some valuable points.
The first Doubleheader in Detroit produced two completely different races. The first race was very clean, while the first half of the second race was yellow after yellow. The same can happen here, the track is very tight and Toronto tends to bring out a lot of yellows. 2011 had 8 yellows and the record for yellows was set in 2001 with 11.
Qualifying for Race 1 begins at 2:15 EST and will use the traditional IndyCar road course qualifying procedure.
Qualifying for Race 2 begins at 10:35 EST and will be comprised of two groups of 15 minutes each.
Both races will air on the NBC Sports Network at 3 pm EST on Saturday and Sunday.