Sunday, July 18, 2010

Will Power Streams to Exciting Honda Indy Toronto Victory

Photo Credit: Dan Helrigel

Within the heat of an inescapable summer weekend for the metropolitan of Toronto, the 2010 Honda Indy brings 26 IZOD IndyCar Series cars and competitors to Canada for the first of two rounds in the northernmost country of the continent. For Canadian race fans, two native-born drivers Alex Tagliani and Paul Tracy again are taking on the challenge of winning in their home country; a bold task which was accomplished twice by Paul Tracy in 1993 and 2003. Attacking the 1.755 mile temporary street course, competitors were challenged for the first time since Long Beach to a track of this configuration.

Showing impressive pace throughout the weekend, the Dreyer and Reinbold Racing regular Justin Wilson had been within the top-2 of the time charts throughout the Honda Indy Toronto weekend winning Saturday's third. Wilson parlayed the effort in his #22 Z-Line Designs Dallara-Honda by locking up the pole through Saturday qualifying beating out superteam challengers led by Will Power and Helio Castroneves in the Firestone Fast 6.

With ambient temperatures hitting 27 degrees Celsius on the Lakeshore, the IZOD IndyCar Series race was set to launch just prior to 1PM eastern time. Justin Wilson took full advantage of his pole position an early lead. Behind him, the field made it through the first corner without incident, an uncharacteristic event for IndyCar races during the first lap through the tight initial corner. Though the first corner was trouble-free, this did not mean there wasn't a moment of contact through lap one. Heading into turn 3, #4 Panther Racing car of Don Wheldon brushed his front wing into the rear of EJ Viso's KV Racing Technology car. The #4 car's damage was easily repairable after a quick through premature pit stop.

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney

Going caution-free through the opening stages, many drivers were able to launch into better positions. Starting 24th, Paul Tracy driving a #15 KV Racing Technology car sponsored by Honda Canada and Make a Wish Canada shot forward in 6 positions. Near the front, the Target Chip Ganassi Racing #10 of Dario Franchitti made it pass Helio Castroneves and Ryan Hunter-Reay to settle in 3rd place. Making use of a new Honda engine changed since the Saturday qualifying session, Franchitti was spared being dropped to the end of the pack when his race team issued a protest with Honda.

On lap 19, 2 of 4 KV Racing Technology drivers added to a growing number of incidents happening within the 2010 season for the team. In this scenario on turn 3 of the Toronto street course, Takuma Sato's #5 connected with the #32 of Mario Moraes drawing full-course caution. Providing an opportune time for pit stops, leaders pitted led by Wilson but left out 4th as Castroneves, Franchitti and Will Power were sent out quicker than the Dreyer and Reinbold Racing team. However, instead of the #3 Verizon Penske Racing car leading the field to the restart, hometown favourite Paul Tracy took the green first virtue of staying on track as others pitted. the #14 of Vitor Meira also elected to stay out.

Gaining first and second place, those two cars bred a situation which would prove costly to race front-runners. Into turn 3, Meira's lack of grip and braking caught Helio Castroneves by surprise as the #3 car slammed the rear of the #14 before sliding down into the tire barrier off-track. Though the driver was unhurt, the same could not be said for the #3 Dallara-Honda. This full-course yellow coming only a lap after a previous caution period, a pattern developed within this one-third race distance seeing the Honda Indy transformed from a high-speed street race to a parade of $500,000 open wheel race cars. After 5 laps of cleaning up Castroneve's machine, Alex Lloyd wrecked this Dale Coyne Racing #19 in turn 1 immediately following the restart. Dale Coyne Racing was already suffering from a difficult race as their #18 car driven by Milka Duno was unable to meet race speed early on in the Honda Indy event.

Following the clean-up for that caution on lap 32, trouble turn 3 lured another incident race-ending contact as the #34 of Mario Romanchini was spun backwards into the wall by Mario Moraes driving ironically the #32 car. Paul Tracy, who had just lost the lead to Dario Franchitti in the lap, along with Dan Wheldon took advantage of the green remaining out to pit just prior to IRL officials elevating the local yellow to a full-field caution. For Moraes part in the incident, the Brazilian was sentenced to a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact.

Once the Honda Indy was sent back to green on lap 35, Dario Franchitti ruled ahead the mid-stage with this green Airwick-sponsored #10 car leading for 19 laps. Leading the #12 of Will Power and the #22 of Justin Wilson, Franchitti relinquished the position pitting as the lead pack confronted lapped traffic. The #12 of Power and #22 of Wilson would pit one lap later in a move which eventually proved very beneficial to those competitors. With Wilson's Dreyer and Reinbold Racing team unable to prevent 3 cars from passing their driver through the first pit stop, the crew definitely made up for the early slip on the lap 55 stop as they beat the highly-trained wrenches of the Team Penske to get Justin Wilson out ahead of Will Power. The duo also beat Dario Franchitti for position leaving pit road.

Into the last one-third distance of the 85 lap 2010 Honda Indy Toronto, it was evidently go-time for the IZOD IndyCar drivers. One dicey incident involved the #26 of Marco Andretti and the #06 of Graham Rahal through turn 3. Entered into the first of a six-race deal with former team Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, Rahal was driving for his fourth team in the 2010 season. The crowding of the two drivers of auto racing pedigrees did not result in any damage but the single-car incident #15 car of Paul Tracy made for a more dramatic turn 3 moment.

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/XSL Speed Reporter

Attempting to out-brake rookie Simona de Silvestro, Tracy locked up skidding off-track. Slow for most of the Honda Indy weekend, Paul Tracy and the KV Racing Technology team chased handling problems that were discovered until after IZOD IndyCar qualifying. Proving to be a more formidable match for Sunday's race, this late race stall demoted Tracy to a one lap back finish in 13th place. On the same lap, the #8 of EJ Viso and #2 of Raphael Matos collided in turn 6.

As caution was needed, another restart saw Justin Wilson's 3 second lead wiped clean as Will Power was able to challenge the #22 Dreyer and Reinbold Racing car on lap 70. With a perfectly-timed acceleration on the restart, Power launched past Wilson on the frontstretch beating the #22 car into turn 1. Falling to 2nd, Wilson fell deeper in the field when he spun in a slick turn 8 losing a chance at a once certain win. Continuing to an eventual 7th place, Justin Wilson's lost podium finish was not the only disappointment to occur with the front-runners. A contact between the #37 of Ryan Hunter-Reay and the Scott Dixon's #9 Dallara-Honda ended with Dixon's #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car suffer terminal front suspension damage.

With special Hot Wheels sponsorship on his #77 Fazzt Race Team car, Alex Tagliani was having a luck warm outcome in the 2010 Honda Indy of Toronto through much of the event. However, near the end, many of the competitors treated the Hot Wheels much like a youngster. Caught up in the lap 65 crash of Matos and Viso, Tagliani's efforts for a strong finish in Toronto were ended when Tomas Scheckter, driving the #24 Dreyer and Reinbold Racing car, attempted to make a late braking maneuver on the inside of the #77 on lap 73 triggering the final full course yellow. In post race, an angry Tagliani implied that he can't wait to get to Edmonton because 'there are a lot of front wing I would like to damage'.

On the final return to green flag competition, Will Power flew away from the #10 car of Franchitti. 5th through 12th maintained itself as a close, dicey pack but there were no further incidents as the Honda Indy of Toronto ran out of laps. With a higher push-to-pass count and a healthy lead, Power's #12 Penske Racing car took victory for the second-straight race. Dario Franchitti, the 2009 winner of the first Honda Indy under the IRL sanctioning body, held off a late charge from Ryan Hunter-Reay for 2nd place.

With Ryan Hunter-Reay bringing his #37 car to a podium finish, he headed up a rather strong effort by Andretti Autosport as Tony Kanaan achieved a quiet but honourable 4th, Danica Patrick brought her #7 past the line in 6th and Marco Andretti placed 8th at the end of the 85 lap event. Andretti Autosport team owner Michael Andretti, a 7-time winning driver of the Toronto IndyCar event which includes 5 consecutive victories, had a hand in bringing the race back to Toronto in 2009 as a promoter. Since divested from the event promotion, Michael Andretti's former business partner Kim Green took command of the Honda Indy as part of a corporate divorce settlement.

Though the chance to see Dreyer and Reinbold Racing in victory lane was foiled, there were still some excellent efforts put forth by smaller IZOD IndyCar teams in the 2010 Honda Indy of Toronto finishing order. While the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing team has historical roots bringing 3 drivers to Honda Indy victories since the race's 1986 inception, their position in the IZOD IndyCar Series is not as strong as it once was in open wheel racing. However, Graham Rahal(son of the inaugural Toronto Indy winner), showed a flash of past brilliance obtaining a 5th place finish. Having started the race 21st, Simona de Silvestro was able to dial a career-best IZOD IndyCar 9th place result taking the Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing #78 across the Toronto start/finish line ahead of the #4 car of Dan Wheldon. After three disastrous races, de Silvestro is back in the rookie of the year fight. Worth honourable mentions just outside of the top-10 is AJ Foyt Racing's Victor Meira who leaped 15 spots to 11th on the day.

Will Power's win in Toronto extends his lead in the 2010 IZOD IndyCar road racing points as well as the overall points. Power holds a 42-point lead over Dario Franchitti and a 78-point gap on Scott Dixon in 3rd place. With 7 races left in the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series, including the July 25th running of the Edmonton Honda Indy event, points are starting to become much more valuable with Australian in a strong position to win or lose.

In the books, the 2010 Honda Indy Toronto was a complete success almost returning to the fan following of the 1990s where the race received around 140,000 spectators through the three-day weekend. With the 25th anniversary of the Toronto IndyCar race in preparations as of earlier this month, the race's future is safe and will bring the sounds of speed to the waterfront for years.

Honda Indy Toronto
2010 IZOD IndyCar Series
Race Results

1. 12 Will Power/Australia/ Penske Racing
2. 10 Dario Franchitti/Scotland/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
3. 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay/United States/ Andretti Autosport
4. 11 Tony Kanaan/Brazil/ Andretti Autosport
5. 02 Graham Rahal/United States/ Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing
6. 7 Danica Patrick/United States/ Andretti Autosport
7. 22 Justin Wilson/England/ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
8. 26 Marco Andretti/United States/ Andretti Autosport
9. 78 Simona De Silvestro/Switzerland HVM Racing
10. 4 Dan Wheldon/England/ Panther Racing
11. 14 Vitor Meira/Brazil/ AJ Foyt Racing Enterprises
12. 06 Hideki Mutoh/ Japan/ Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
13. 15 Paul Tracy/Canada/ KV Racing Technology
14. 32 Mario Moraes/Brazil/ KV Racing Technology
15. 24 Tomas Scheckter/ South Africa/ Dreyer and Reinbold Racing
16. 36 Bertrand Baguette/Belgium/ Conquest Racing
17. 77 Alex Tagliani/Canada/ FAZZT Race Team
18. 6 Ryan Briscoe/Australia/ Penske Racing
19. 8 EJ Viso/Venezuela/ KV Racing Technology
20. 9 Scott Dixon/New Zealand/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
21. 2 Raphael Matos/Brazil/ de Ferran Dragon Racing
22. 34 Mario Romancini/Brazil/ Conquest Racing
23. 19 Alex Lloyd/England/ Dale Coyne Racing
24. 3 Helio Castroneves/Brazil/ Penske Racing
25. 5 Takuma Sato/Japan/ KV Racing Technology
26. 18 Milka Duno/Venezuela/ Dale Coyne Racing

No comments:

Post a Comment