Photo from sports.usatoday.com
The Toronto track’s too narrow, ramshackle and winding, making the racing too processional for our tastes. Especially with the recent changes to pit lane and curbs coming apart mid-race – that’s Detroit level awful. It’s high time to reconsider Toronto’s place on IndyCar’s already sketchy schedule.
Photo from sports.usatoday.com
A new ‘S’ shaped pit lane is “ridiculous” as Conor Daly rightly called it after the race. Its forty mile per hour speed limit is an embarrassment. If we wanted to see racing at school zone speeds, we’d watch NASCAR. Throw in the extra short pit stalls and it all adds up to a joke. Perhaps thirty years at Toronto’s enough, as the city seems to have grown apathetic toward the series, at least judging by their “track.”
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As quintessential Canuck Paul Tracy said, “they almost made a full lap” before the first wreck. The kerfuffle started between Charlie “everybody hates me” Kimball, Carlos Munoz and Ryan Hunter-Reay in turn eight, bringing out the first caution. The incident set the tone for the entire day. On lap six just as the race was restarting a reckless Juan Montoya knocked Josef Newgarden’s ass pod off, then RHR brushed the wall on his own. Josef indignantly asked over the radio, “How the hell did he hit my bumper?!”
Pit reporter Kevin Lee noted that “John Pablo’s” actions were “under review.” Since it’s IndyCar and a Penske was involved, of course no action was taken. This came after they’d already moved the walls back for Montoya who crashed in practice, once again begging the question “What’s wrong with Juan?”
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Like at Long Beach, Penske Frenchman Simon Pagenaud crossed over the blend line returning to the track after pitting. Drivers had been warned not to touch it by race control – another empty threat. It goes without saying no action was taken against the frog rule flouter, either. In a rare exciting moment of the race, Daly ignored his right front tire changer who was holding him due to traffic and sped away, nearly colliding with another car coming in for service in front of him.
Then things at Toronto started to disintegrate, literally. Hunter-Reay with the hyphen here to stay said the track was “coming up in turn five,” according to the gorgeous Katie Hargitt’s intrepid reporting. The third caution appeared on lap forty five for the crumbling Canadian curb, as the asphalt stuck atop a concrete surface fell apart. Hilariously, Holmatro safety crew members banged on the track with mallets in a true display of twenty first century track repair.
Photo from racer.com
Pole sitter Scott Dixon was on point and pulling away from Helio and Pagenaud in a parade, leading forty six of the first forty nine laps. Drivers were told to avoid the curb in question by the feckless race control, then under green Marco promptly proceeded to drive directly over it in his manic charge into the top ten. This after starting dead last yet again.
The next round of stops came on lap fifty seven, and the very next lap Newgarden slammed hard into the wall coming off the questionable curb in turn five. As racing fate would have it, Will Power was just entering the pits as the fourth caution flew. This tragic turn of events unfortunately handed Power the race. Dixon hadn’t pitted and his promising race was ruined by the timing of the accident.
After the race Dixon’s strategist Mike Hull was reflective. “That’s the way it works sometimes when you go to the pit lane.” Later on Twitter the likable Hull was more irritable, referring to commentator Townsend Bell as “that ‘expert,'” insisting it’s always an “easy call after the fact.”
The aged Tony Kanaan – who we learned during pre-race from his buxom American wife isn’t having any more kids – inherited the lead, although his three stop strategy was destined to fail. TK pitted with nine to go giving Power the lead. It was a lead he’d never relinquish as the Aussie proceeded to check out from the field.
Photo from macon.com
AJ Foyt Racing’s Takuma Sato and Mikhail Aleshin battled in a reenactment of the Russo-Japanese War, with the Japanese winning again. Despite repeated reports to the contrary, JoNew was “ok” according to Robin Miller after walling it hard on his injured right side. Said a disgusted Newkid, ” I made a mistake. . . . I’m just mad.”
Back in the pack Daly and RHR had an entertaining battle, swapping positions back and forth like partners at a swingers party. Daly took all comers, getting around JPM with ten to go after Juan hit Kimball in the rear. Juan and Charlie already weren’t the best of friends – just last week Montoya viciously disparaged Kimball in an interview at Iowa. Kimball bested Montoya again though, finishing eleventh.
Photo from motorsport.com
Bringing some much needed excitement to the procession, first Jack Hawksworth and then Montoya smacked the wall with five laps remaining. After cleanup, the final restart took place with only one to go as Power led Helio Castro Neves, James Hinchcliffe, TK and Sato. Anticlimactically and typical of Toronto, there were no passes as the drivers merely held station to the checkers. Power let out a girlish giggle on the radio as he won his third race at Toronto and third out of the last four. It’s yet another reason to just say no to TO.
Hometown Canuck Hinchcliffe saved fuel to finish third, scoring his first podium at Toronto. He admitted, “I was just hoping I didn’t screw it up.” Hinch frankly called his result a “lucky break,” which is quite true as AJ would say. We at IRR say it should be the last lucky racing break ever in Toronto – and all of Canada, for that matter – until they can come up with a decent track.