Sunday, July 8, 2012

Toronto Wrap Up

Could we be seeing a changing of the guard? It appears that might be the case as Ryan Hunter-Reay's victory today at the Honda Indy Toronto not only gave RHR his third straight win (Milwaukee, Iowa) but that, coupled with some bad luck by some of the other points leaders, moves him to the top of the classification by 34 points over Will Power.

Let's roll through the field a bit. Maybe we'll talk about the stupidness that permeated the end of the race, but then again, maybe not. Between the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races and today's IndyCar event, millions of dollars of equipment was destroyed due to dumb driving. Let's hope they can all do better next time.

I'm sorry, I know some people find flying sheet metal and carbon fiber exciting, I see it as tearing shit up unnecessarily. To each their own.

Winner: Ryan Hunter-Reay. RHR became the first American open wheel driver to win three straight races since AJ Allmendinger (who had a tough weekend himself) turned the trick in Champ Car in 2006, and became the first American to sit on top of the points since Sam Hornish in the same year. In a period of about 22 days, RHR has made up 75 points on Power in the season-long standings and is driving with so much confidence he is now the man to beat.

Runner-up: Charlie Kimball. Kimball shook off an early-race incident with teammate Graham Rahal to post a career-best finish. Kimball has had a consistent run on the twisties lately, finishing P8 at both Brazil and Belle Isle before today.

Third: Mike Conway. Really? Between crashes and mechanical issues, Conway has for the most part been MIA the last few races save for his P9 at Belle Isle. It's very safe to say that his season isn't going the way he or his team wanted, but he was very aggressive and racy today and drove with some confidence that has been missing for some time.

Fourth: Tony Kanaan. Add this week to the reasons why he is getting closer to breaking out and stopping a two-year winless streak. He ran as high as second for a while and was no doubt stymied by a drive through penalty for hitting a tire. It will all come together for him sometime this season. Won't it? Either way, he's sitting in sixth place in points but is just a point behind James Hinchcliffe for fifth. He's been climbing fast.

Fifth: Oriol Servia. The benefit of the race finishing ahead of its TV window was that it gave the Voice of God a chance for some airtime, and he was very excited about it. The Spaniard is a fun guy to watch on race day, and his "cars left in Servia's wake" count is now up to 98 on the season. If only he could qualify a bit better!

Points: RHR and Helio Castroneves are the only drivers at the top of the points who didn't suffer through some sort of epic fail Sunday. Power, the former point leader, cut down a tire after some contact with Josef Newgarden and lost a lap, Scott Dixon blew up a motor and fan favorite Hinchcliffe, who after starting 19th and was on the move early to the delight of the hometown crowd, exited early with mechanical issues.

So now RHR leads the way with 335 points with Power (301), Castroneves (289), Dixon (281) and Hinchcliffe (268) represent the top five. Defending champion Franchitti fell to last after a 25-second pit stop and while he climbed up near the top 10 as the race went on, was involved in an accident with Ryan Briscoe on the final restart, all but ending his hopes of a four-peat.

*Crazy stat of the day. Since first running at Toronto in 1998, Sunday was just the second top-10 finish for Castroneves. No wonder he was so happy afterwards.

*Second crazy stat of the day. Drivers in the top 10 all came from different teams. The top 10 was made up of five Chevrolets and five Hondas.

There is lots more to talk about, but I don't want to go on all day. So we'll pick this up sometime during the week. Edmonton is the next stop in two weeks.

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