PREVIEW: 2019 NTT IndyCar Series – Toronto

by Jordan Groves

After several weeks away, the NTT IndyCar Series will hit the track once again this Sunday for the 2019 Honda Indy Toronto; the championship’s only race that takes place outside of the United States. Who will reign supreme on the Canadian streets? Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the race.

What happened in 2018 on the streets of Toronto?

In qualifying for last year’s Honda Indy Toronto, Josef Newgarden would take pole position after an exciting session. The track slowly got faster and faster throughout the session as the racing surface dried following earlier rain. Newgarden’s very last lap of the session would see him snatch pole position from Scott Dixon by two-tenths of a second.

Newgarden would fend off an initial challenge from Dixon and would go on to lead a vast majority of the opening half of the race. However, the race would take a wild turn following a caution when both Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay would lose their front wings in completely separate incidents at virtually the same time.

On the restart, Newgarden tried to get a jump on the field. However, he would get caught on the dirty side of the track out of the final corner and would hit the outside wall. Dixon would seize the opportunity to take the lead of the race, with multiple other cars scrambling to gain ground on the long run into the first corner. In the melee, Graham Rahal would hit the back of Max Chilton, which then triggered a pile-up comprising of Hunter-Reay, Rossi, Will Power and Sebastien Bourdais.

For the rest of the race, Dixon remained in control. He would ultimately cruise home to take the win by over five seconds ahead of second-place finisher Simon Pagenaud. The win would be his third of the season and it would see him extend his championship-lead to sixty-two points.

Third-place on the podium would go to hometown hero Robert Wickens, who spent much of the closing stages of the race trying to pass Pagenaud for second-place. Team-mate James Hinchcliffe would finish just off of the podium in fourth place, with Carlin‘s Charlie Kimball taking a magnificent fifth place to secure the team’s best finish in IndyCar to date.

You can read the full race reports from last year’s race in Toronto by following the link below: 

Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar

What should I look out for this weekend?

Heading into this weekend’s race, the fight for the top of the championship standings is currently a two-horse race. As has been the case for virtually the entire season so far, Penske’s Josef Newgarden leads the way at the top of the tables. However, his margin is at its lowest point yet after Andretti’s Alexander Rossi dominated the last race at Road America to win and cut Newgarden’s gap down to just seven points.

Last year’s race in Toronto saw Rossi and Newgarden endure bad luck en-route to finishing in eighth and ninth respectively after facing dramas. Both will be hoping to right the wrongs of twelve months ago this weekend, as both seek to take the next advantage in their thrilling title fight.

One man hoping for a big result this weekend is Chip Ganassi Racing’s, Scott Dixon. As mentioned earlier, the New Zealander won in Toronto last year and will be desperate to repeat that success to put himself back in contention for the championship. Scott currently sits in fourth place in the standings, but trails championship-leader Newgarden by a whopping ninety-four points.

If last year’s race is anything to go by, Dixon and Newgarden could be right on the pace for the win this weekend. If that’s the case, Dixon will be giving it everything he’s got to try and stop Newgarden pulling further away in the standings.

Just one Canadian will be on the grid for this year’s Honda Indy Toronto. Arrow Schmidt Peterson‘s James Hinchcliffe will be the sole hometown hero and will be hoping to go at least one position higher than last year to stand on the podium.

It’s been a difficult season so far for James, who has yet to finish any higher than sixth in the first ten races, whilst rookie team-mate Marcus Ericsson has somewhat stolen the headlines after having taken a podium finish back in Detroit. A return to the rostrum this weekend would be a much needed shot in the arm for James and his side of the garage.

Speaking of Ericsson, the battle for the highest-placed rookie will most likely be as entertaining as ever this weekend. Ericsson’s fellow rookie, Felix Rosenqvist, enters the weekend as the highest placed rookie in the standings in tenth place. The Swedish driver has prior winning experience on the streets of Toronto after having won both of the supporting Indy Lights races back in 2016. He will be hoping that this experience transfers over to this Sunday’s race as he looks to extend his advantage over the likes of his closest rivals, Santino Ferrucci and Colton Herta.

One final driver to keep an eye on this weekend will be Sage Karam, who will compete in an IndyCar race that is not an oval for the first time since Mid-Ohio in 2015. Karam will race the #31 Carlin Chevrolet in the place of Patricio O’Ward, who had originally been slated to race this weekend. Sage will be hoping to impress to try and work his way back into the series on a more regular basis in the future.

What is the schedule for the weekend?

Friday 12 July

11:05 ET / 16:05 GMT – Practice one
15:15 ET / 20:15 GMT – Practice two

Saturday 13 July

10:20 ET / 15:20 GMT – Practice three
14:00 ET / 19:00 GMT – Qualifying

Sunday 14 July

15:00 ET / 20:00 GMT – Race

Where can I watch the 2019 Honda Indy Toronto?

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

As a part of the IndyCar’s UK coverage deal, both qualifying and the race will be broadcasted live on Sky Sports F1.

In the United States, television coverage for the Honda Indy Toronto will be shown on NBC Sports.

Further coverage of practice and qualifying will be provided in the United States by NBC Sports Gold.

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 this weekend’s practice, qualifying and race sessions.

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

Related articles

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More