Saturday, July 7, 2012

Toronto Pre-Game

Kinda glad I waited as long as I did to write this one! It's been an interesting couple of days, and given that Toronto has a propensity for some drama, what does tomorrow have in store?

The storyline for the Honda Indy Toronto starts in the front row, where Dario Franchitti and Will Power start first and second, respectively. Don't forget that this was the scene of their little dust-up last year where Power called Dario a dirty driver and then stepped up the insults on Twitter, stopping just short of the famous double birds.

Power is already feeling a bit froggy this weekend, having tangled with both Simon Pagenaud and Takuma Sato. He's also sent out the following message: if you take me out you are gonna get one across the chops.

Man, am I looking forward to all of these guys dive into the first couple of corners!

Look for Dario to press the issue from the start tomorrow. Believe it or not, this is his third straight pole (and first at Toronto since 1997), meaning Target Chip Ganassi has taken four straight after their ugly qualifying effort at Indy (though that worked out for them). Unfortunately, Dario has nothing to show for it, having had serious handling issues at Texas, crashing at Milwaukee and never even took the green at Iowa after his motor blew on the parade lap.

Power, meanwhile, is looking to get his twistie mojo back after the oval portion of the schedule took its expected toll. Now he has five races to build up his lead, which has shrunk to just three points over Ryan Hunter-Reay, who starts sixth after winning the last two races at Iowa and Milwaukee.

The storylines keep going beyond the front row, as row two has road course aces Justin Wilson and Sebastien Bourdais. Wilson has had a helluva weekend, as Friday practice started with a frightening incident that saw Wilson part of an incident in the pits that sent crew members from his team and Bourdais' team to the hospital. He later had three more on-track incidents, so his posting a P3 in qualifying is an incredible recovery.

Both have won here in Champ Car, Wilson in 2004 and Bourdais in 2005, so they know how to get it done. Scott Dixon, who had the fastest lap in the final practice session, will start fifth, while Alex Tagliani was the final member of the Fast Six but will serve a 10-grid penalty for an engine change.

Also serving penalties will be James Hinchcliffe and Simona de Silvestro, who qualified a much-improved 21st with an updated Lotus engine.


Winner: James Hinchcliffe. I said in yesterday's post that I was going to go with Hinch as my winner and I keep my promises. But if it isn't Hinch I think it will be Bourdais.

Podium possibilities. Wow, there are tons of them here. Lots of great road racers up front, so who do you choose? Let's just say that it will be a toss up among several drivers, notably Bourdais, Power, Franchitti, Dixon and Hunter-Reay.

Another possibility is Simon Pagenaud. Simon practiced well and will go off in P8. He comes off a huge high with his performance at Iowa, where despite his inexperience on ovals he climbed through the field to an impressive fifth-place finish.

And of course, Oriol Servia. Qualifying is overrated, right! Servia will move up, he comes to life when the green flag drops.

Crash-fest! Last year was not one of the better displays of professional driving. Hopefully the DW12 does its usual job of creating great racing and chrome horns won't be necessary. Although given the stoutness of the car, there will be some leaning on each other no doubt.

Push to pass. Still hate it, don't think it is necessary. Still, we'll see how an extra element of strategy plays into the race.

The race will be shown live on ABC starting with the pre-race at 12:30 EDT and the green flag a little after 1 p.m.

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