After spending the last month driving around in circles, the IZOD IndyCar Series finally gets back into left-and-right mode with this weekend’s doubleheader at the Honda Indy Toronto. The long-standing event is always a fantastic race weekend, and More Front Wing will be on-site firing from both barrels with Steph and yours truly reporting from Toronto’s Exhibition Place.
Storylines will be abundant this weekend, so let’s get right to those topics we’ll be looking to cover throughout the 3-day event. At the top of the list has to be the question of whether the big teams are truly back in championship contention as we hit a long, crucial stretch of road and street courses before the season finale on the oval at Auto Club Speedway. Chip Ganassi Racing came roaring back to life last weekend by sweeping the podium in a surprising result at Pocono Raceway, but Team Penske had both cars running strong all race long. In fact, the Penske duo has really looked mostly strong since the Series departed the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (perhaps Will Power at Iowa excepted). The Ganassi trio (and all of the Honda drivers for that matter) seem to be particularly excited about the most recent updates to their powerplant, and while the engine may not still quite have the horsepower of their Chevrolet counterparts, it does seem to have at least something of a fuel mileage advantage. Toronto rarely becomes a fuel mileage affair simply because the races typically have an excess of derpage, but if results from Detroit are any indication, Honda-powered teams could very well continue to ride their recent wave of success.
Another top story that will be making headlines this weekend will be the INDYCAR debut of standing starts. Only Saturday’s race will feature a standing start, but I suspect it will be a big point of discussion following the race. While those drivers who drove in Champ Car in 2007 have “recent” experience with the standing starts (and even that was six years ago now), most of the field has either never raced with standing starts or did them so long ago that their experience is massively decayed by now. While the general theory behind standing starts is that they are safer and generally lead to less chaos in the first turn (or at least that’s what Robin Miller constantly claims), I am unconvinced so far and figure the proof will come on Saturday afternoon. Toronto hasn’t traditionally had a chaotic turn 1 (with the occasional exception), so whether we see anything massively different is still to be seen. Quite honestly, the bigger problem is turn 3. If I was a betting man, I’d say the field will cleanly survive turn 1 only to wad up a handful of cars in turn 3, bring out a full-course caution, and then basically go through a rolling start anyway. But… I’m not a betting man.
Finally, we at More Front Wing don’t typically spend a lot of time covering the Mazda Road to Indy and, in particular, the Firestone Indy Lights, but this weekend will be a critical time in that series’ history as INDYCAR is expected to announce that it will officially turn over the reins for that series to Dan Anderson. Anderson already owns the USF2000 series and the Pro Mazda Series, which together form the first two rungs of the Mazda Road to Indy. Anderson has a prior history of successfully running race series, making them more affordable and more lucrative for the participants. Let’s hope his success will find its way to the Firestone Indy Lights as well. While the talent at the top of the standings may be as strong as it ever has been, it’s tough to take the series seriously when only eight cars have answered the bell for much of the season in what is supposed to be the top rung of the training ladder.
Stay tuned to More Front Wing all weekend long as we keep you up to date with the latest breaking news and on-track action from the Honda Indy Toronto. As always, if you have any comments or questions, shoot us a message on Twitter (@MoreFrontWing) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’re at the track and see either of us, please stop us and say hello!