By in sports on Jul 17, 2017 |
2017 Honda Indy Winner Josef Newgarden
2017 Honda Indy 2nd Place Alex Rossi
2017 Honda Indy 3rd Place James Hinchcliffe

On a weekend that saw over 1,200 race tires used, enough to produce approximately 36,000 hockey pucks, Josef Newgarden (Nashville, Tennessee) would lead 58 out of the 85 laps to capture the 2017 Honda Indy Toronto.  The 26-year old made just two pit stops, completing the course in 01:35:05:3522 with an average speed of 95.790 MPH.  A race which had Mother Nature play more of a mental game with driver’s heads and their race teams, more so then being a factor on the track itself, the race seemed to signify the young guns taking a stand against the veterans.        

After threats of rain all day, it would start to pour for a few minutes in Toronto just before the weekend's finale.   However, the sun would fight off the wet threat allowing thousands of race fans to buckle their seatbelts and take in some of best racing the world has to offer.  For the 31st time 21 open wheel Indy racecars would bring a thunderous roar to Exhibition Place and the streets of Toronto, engine screams echoing throughout the city when the green flag started the festivities at 3:47pm.  Right out of the gate the Brazilian Helio Castroneves made a drastic move on turn #1 to immediately steal the lead away from his teammate Simon Pagenaud who won the pole yesterday with the best time of 58:9124.  Moments later, still on the very first lap of the race the 4th and 5th place starters would 'touch em up' in the three-time Honda Indy winner Will Power and Scott Dixon respectively.  When Dixon's braking forced Power to rear-end him, the New Zealand native in Dixon would have to pit to get a brake duct repaired; the replacement would subsequently fly off upon his return to the track.  Making things worse for Scott he was assessed a drive through penalty for entering the closed pit and making what was deemed an excessive repair.  Still a better fait then Will Power as the Australians day was over before it could even begin, with no shot at win #4 in Toronto.  Green flag would resume action on lap #7, by the first-quarter mark after the 21st lap Castroneves was still leading the way with Pagenaud and Graham Rahal close behind.  Another yellow flag came into effect on lap #23 when Tony Kanaan locked up his tires and collided with the tire wall on turn #1. With the pit lane opened on lap #25, the majority would try to take advantage by changing the tires/refuel, allowing the 2015 Honda Indy winner Josef Newgarden (Nashville, Tennessee) to take the lead. Following Josef was rookie Ed Jones (Dubai, United Arab Emirates), Charlie Kimball (Camarillo, California) and Alexander Rossi (Nevada City, California) trailing in 2nd, 3rd and 4th position respectively when the green flag was waved for lap #28.  Halfway through the race after lap #42 Newgarden continued to control 1st place, with Rossi moved up to 2nd place and the hometown driver James Hinchcliffe finding himself in podium position in 3rd place.  With 32 laps remaining and threat of a storm on the horizon, teams would have to decide to play it safe or to gamble for a victory, depending on Mother Nature. On lap #54 Newgarden would pit for four new tires/fuel, allowing Max Chilton (Reigate, England) to take a brief lead. As the very next lap he would also head to the pit lane and Pagenaud would take back 1st place.  Coming full circle, Pagenaud would pit on lap #57 and Newgarden would regain the #1 spot again, leading for 35 of the first 63 laps.  By lap #69 it was the same three guys in the exact same podium position as lap #42; Newgarden, Rossi and Hinchcliffe in that order.  With 9 laps remaining Ed Power would experience an obvious engine malfunction and would not be able to finish thanks to the mechanical issue.  Despite Rossi’s best effort, he simply couldn’t catch Newgarden on this day, finishing just 1.8704 behind the winner.  While for the second straight year the hometown inspiration to the next generation of Canadian racecar drivers James Hinchcliffe would make the podium in 3rd position finishing 4.7020 behind Newgarden.  Always nice to see some Canadian content on the    

On the 50th anniversary of Indy car racing in Canada, Newgarden now puts himself with the likes of; Al Unser Jr. (1990 and 1988), Paul Tracy (2003 and 1993), Scott Dixon (2013 – twice) and Sebastien Bourdais (2014 and 2004) who all won in Toronto twice in their careers.  Next year he’ll look to hunt down Will Power (2016, 2010 and 2007) and Dario Franchitti (2011, 2009 and 1999) for a third checkered flag north of the border.  However, even if he were to win it again next year he’ll have a long way to catch up to Michael Andretti who captured the hearts of Canadian racing fans, while winning in Toronto an outstanding 7 times.  A large thank you should be extended to the over 600 dedicated volunteers who helped make the weekend possible and the real reason why this event is IndyCar’s second-longest running street race behind the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Approximately 200 workers will work late into Sunday night taking down 5 steel superstructure grandstands, 410,000 pounds of steel fencing and over 1,600 feet of tire wall, which barely scratches the surface of the effort it takes to pull off a fantastic weekend of racing like the 2017 Honda Indy Toronto.