Preview: 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – Toronto

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Credit: Chris Jones / Courtesy of IndyCar

This weekend, the Verizon IndyCar Series heads north for the only race of the 2018 season to take place outside of the United States. The teams and drivers will take to the streets of Toronto, Canada, for the 2018 Honda Indy Toronto on SundayHere is everything you need to know ahead of the twelfth race of the season, an event that could have a major impact on the championship standings.

What happened in 2017 in Toronto?

Last year’s race at Toronto was yet another success story for Team Penske. In qualifying on Saturday, Simon Pagenaud took his first pole position of the season and the tenth of his career. He was the only driver to set a lap-time in the 58-second bracket, with his nearest rival, Graham Rahal, three-tenths of a second further back.

Sadly for Simon, he was unable to convert his pole position into a race victory on Sunday. He and team-mate Helio Castroneves led the way for the early stages of the race, but a caution changed the entire complexion of the race.

The caution came right in the middle of a pit-stop sequence. Tony Kanaan had just exited the pits when he crashed into the turn one tyre barriers on cold tyres. Josef Newgarden was already on pit-road when the caution was called. The race leaders, however, had to make their stops once the field was bunched back together behind the safety car. This put Newgarden out into the lead of the race, with the race leaders now further back in the pack.

In the end, Newgarden would use his track position to take the win, with Alexander Rossi also profiting from the caution to take second place for Andretti AutosportJames Hinchcliffe took the final spot on the podium in his home race, whilst pole-sitter Pagenaud recovered to finish fifth.

You can read the reports from last year’s qualifying and race in Toronto by following the links below

What should I look out for this weekend?

Including this weekend’s race in Toronto, just six races remain until this year’s champion will be crowned. Every race from here on out could have massive championship implications, as any major points less may prove to be hard to bounce back from.

Scott Dixon still leads the way at the top of the championship standings, but after a disappointing race last weekend at Iowa Speedway, his advantage has now been reduced to thirty-three points over second-placed Josef Newgarden. Both Newgarden and Dixon are former winners on the streets of Toronto and both will be hoping to do so again to try and gain the upper hand in the championship.

Andretti Autosport’s leading duo at the moment, Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay, will also be hoping to make some inroads in the championship. Rossi, who finished second in Toronto last year, is eight points behind Newgarden in the standings. After falling back during the mid-season, a good string of consecutive strong finishes could put Rossi firmly back into the championship hunt. That run could very well start this weekend.

As for Rossi’s team-mate, Hunter-Reay, he will be hoping that his bad luck in Iowa does not repeat itself this time around. Ryan entered the last race second in the standings but fell back to fourth place after handling issues prevented him from finishing the race. Ryan won the race in Toronto back in 2012. He will be hoping he is contention to do so again this time around.

Finally, keep an eye on the three home-town heroes this weekend. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team-mates, James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens, as well as Dale Coyne Racing‘s Zachary Claman De Melo, will be hoping to put on a show for their fellow Canadians in the grandstands.

Hinchcliffe has raced eight times on the streets of Toronto and has finished on the podium on the last two occasions. After his victory last weekend at Iowa, he will be hoping to stand on the podium yet again; maybe even on the top spot.

For Wickens and De Melo, however, neither have raced in Toronto, as they are both rookies. Both will be hoping to impress on their first try, but Wickens may be the one with the most pressure. Many still believe and expect that Wickens will win in his rookie season. There is still every chance that that could happen in Toronto, too, as Robert has shown numerous times this year that unfamiliar surroundings seem to be no problem for him.

What is the schedule for the weekend?

Friday 13 July

10:40 ET / 15:40 GMT – Practice one
14:30ET / 19:30 GMT – Practice two

Saturday 14 July

09:50 ET / 14:50 GMT – Practice three
13:55ET / 18:55 GMT – Qualifying

Sunday 15 July

15:30 ET / 20:30 GMT  – Race

Where can I watch the Honda Indy Toronto?

Tickets are still available for this weekend’s race. Head to the Honda Indy Toronto website for more information.

In the United Kingdom, television coverage is limited to just the races only. Race day coverage will start at 20:00 on BT Sport 2.

In the United States, television coverage for the race at Road America will be provided by NBCSN.

Further coverage of practice and qualifying will be provided for all via IndyCar’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

How can I keep up to date with all the race action?

If you cannot make it to Toronto for this weekend’s race, you can keep up to date with all the action across the weekend right here at The Checkered Flag. We will have coverage of not just this weekend’s practice, qualifying and race sessions, but for all on-track action throughout the season.

Be sure to also follow IndyCar on Twitter – @IndyCar – for live updates throughout the event.

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