IndyCar Preview: Predictions for Sunday's Honda Indy Toronto
The IZOD IndyCar Series will return to the streets of Toronto for the third consecutive year this Sunday. The series has been off for nearly two weeks, so drivers and teams are eager to get out on the track, and the fans are just as eager to watch them.
In 2009 Dario Franchitti won the inaugural race in Toronto, then went on to win the championship the same year. Last year he tried to make it two for two, but a familiar foe had other ideas.
Will Power won last year's race, with Franchitti and Ryan Hunter-Reay finishing behind him on the podium. Justin Wilson began the race on the pole, and led 32 laps before a spin on lap 72 ended his hopes of winning.
Most people expect this one to be another Power/Franchitti shootout, and for good reason.
Pole Winner: Will Power
When it comes to winning the pole, is there really any other guy you would consider? Not only is he dominant in the road course races, but he owns everyone in qualifying too. Add to that the fact that he has extra motivation after his disappointing ending to the race in Iowa, and you have your obvious choice for the Pole Award.
First to Crash: James Jakes
Obviously Jakes hasn't raced here before in these cars, and given his track record so far this season, he will find something to make contact with. This isn't as much of a reflection on his talent as it is his inexperience with these cars and the drivers around him.
Dark Horse: Ryan Hunter-Reay
When you think about drivers that have had some tough luck this year, the first guy that comes to mind for me is RHR. In his nine starts this season, he has only two top-ten finishes. More interesting than that, he has more DNFs (three) than total number of laps led this season (two). He is good in Toronto though, as he proved with last year's podium finish. Don't be surprised if he finally gets things going this Sunday.
Third Place: Justin Wilson
Wilson could easily be the dark horse for this race, given the way his season has gone so far. Instead, I chose to go with a podium finish this weekend for the Dreyer & Reinbold driver. He has started in the top five here in both races. The only other people that can say that are Dario Franchitti and Will Power. Last year he looked exceptional early on, as he won the pole and led 32 laps before a spin on lap 72 did him in.
Second Place: Dario Franchitti
Obviously he and Power are the class of the field and the obvious favorites this weekend. While it's hard to go against Dario, a more motivated and angry Power is going to be extremely hard to beat. Dario has only finished first or second in this race in Toronto, and I don't expect that to change after this race on Sunday.
Race Winner: Will Power
I am looking for another weekend sweep for Mr Power. Predicting that one driver will win the pole and the race when there are talents like Franchitti, Kanaan, Dixon, Wilson, etc. is quite a statement. I don't think the result in Iowa will make this team try that much harder, but the focus is on the championship, and every point counts. Getting the points for the Pole Award are critical, and so will be starting in front of the red Target Cars.
Best Finishing Canadian Driver: Alex Tagliani
There are three Canadian drivers in this year's race: Alex Tagliani, Paul Tracy and James Hinchcliffe. While I do think Hinchcliffe has a shot at a top-five finish, I like the strength of Tags and his team over the potential of James and the experience of Tracy. There isn't a bad driver in this bunch, and it would be great if they all come home in the top 10.