LIVE BLOG: 2014 Honda Indy Toronto

IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on July 18, 2014 8:08 am


4:51 PM ET (Steph) — We’ve had plenty of track activity this afternoon. The Verizon IndyCar Series completed their second session of the day with Simon Pagenaud fastest, Helio Castroneves second (despite losing power and stalling roughly 30 minutes in), and Scott Dixon third. Twenty cars were within one second on the final time sheet. The full results and the qualifying groups for tomorrow morning’s Firestone Fast 6 can be found in our Event Summary.

Pagenaud and Dixon visited us in the media centre afterward. Dixon had a couple of interesting points to make. As Paul mentioned earlier today, Dixon’s pit stall is the closest to pit out, and Dixon reported that IndyCar will be pushing the barriers back to make some more room between his stall and the point where the single-lane funnel begins. He added, though, that he hopes there are no incidents there because it won’t take much for the pit exit to be completely blocked.

He also addressed a question about the standing starts and some of the challenges the drivers have been dealing with. He said that while these cars were not really designed for standing starts, he feels a good compromise has been reached in terms of making the changes necessary for them to go well. He also said Chevrolet has done a good job of working with the teams to do the needed tuning.

Finally, Dixon was critical about IndyCar’s rule this year that closes the pits under yellow flag periods. He said that while it’s safer to do so and safety clearly needs to be a priority, it tends to leave people as sitting ducks. He gave several examples of incidents where drivers had been dominant and on a trajectory for a win but got caught out by the rule — one of them was Hinchcliffe in race 1 at Houston. Dixon also cited another incident at Houston where a car was left on track for two laps to hold the yellow until the leaders had pitted, adding that being affected seems to depend on who they want to open the door for.

Pagenaud talked about this being an important event for the team since their sponsor, Oculus, is a Canadian company. (Ric Peterson, one of the team’s owners, is also a Canuck based in Calgary, Alberta.) He also talked at length about how challenging but fun this track is with all the bumps and changes in track surface (and therefore traction). He’s starting to look ahead to closing up the championship now, and he says he’s focused on getting things right for himself and his team and letting his competitors do their own thing.

In other racing, after the IndyCars finished up, Indy Lights had their first and only session of the day. Points leader Gabby Chaves was fastest, followed by Jack Harvey, Alex Baron, and Matthew Brabham, and there were no incidents to report. There isn’t a full time sheet posted online for that yet, but we’ll link to it once it’s available.

The second USF2000 practice also took place earlier, and Florian Latorre and RC Enerson swapped places on the time sheet for that one. Colton Herta was third, and Jake Eidson was fourth. There were a couple of red flag periods, but it wasn’t clear what for from up here in the media centre. There are also no time sheets posted yet, but we’re staying on top of it.

The final session of the day is USF2000 qualifying, which is scheduled for 5:50 but will probably start a little later. Stay tuned.


1:50 PM ET (Steph) — My goodness, is it ever a beautiful day today! The temperature is perfect, and there’s a cool breeze and hardly a cloud in the sky. The fans have turned out for Fan Friday here, and I’d guess that the team here at the Honda Indy Toronto will be pleased with the attendance numbers. The fan zone is hopping, there are plenty of people in the stands (I just got back from turn 3 and it was pretty much packed), and the beer gardens are busy – and I haven’t even been across to the Direct Energy Centre yet. This is the fifth year of the program, and it’s proven to be a successful template. The corporate sponsorship from the Ontario Honda Dealers coupled with the donation program for Make-a-Wish Canada is what makes it work. It would be great to see more events set up something similar.

As I mentioned, I was just out at turn 3. It’s a bit of a hike but is always worth it – it’s like taking a crash course in racecraft. The grandstand out there is significantly larger than last year. I’d say it’s probably got at least 10 more rows at the top. This is good in that it gives more people the opportunity to sit in a location that should be on every race fan’s bucket list, but it’s bad because the new layout has obstructed some of the turn a little more than in the past. You need to be way over to the very west of the grandstand now to see anything past the apex, and if I couldn’t be right there I would probably opt to sit as far as possible to the east side (section B) because the sightlines are a little better from that side in my opinion.

Of course, this information and more will be going into our Spectator Seating Guide for this event, which I’m hoping to finish gathering the info for this afternoon.

The USF2000 cars just hit the track for their second practice session of the day, and the Verizon IndyCar Series is back out immediately afterward. We just learned that the IndyCar session has been pushed back to a 2:10 start and will run until 2:55 with 10 minutes of standing start practice immediately afterward. Follow our updates here and live on Twitter @MoreFrontWing. (We’ve also posted a few Instagram photos today, so if you’re Instaclined you can follow us there at @MoreFrontWing as well.)


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