After a well-deserved rest, the NTT IndyCar Series returns to action this weekend north of the border with this year’s Honda Indy Toronto, the Canadian staple that runs each July at Exhibition Place. The 11th of 17 rounds on this year’s schedule, Toronto kicks off a stretch of three races in three weeks that samples every type of course on the IndyCar calendar, with this weekend’s street race followed by an oval at Iowa Speedway and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Thanks to a torrid stretch of races from Alexander Rossi, the championship battle is at its tightest since the start of the season. The Andretti Autosport driver has four podiums in the last five races, including a victory in the most recent event at Road America; that’s been enough to narrow Josef Newgarden’s points advantage to a slim seven coming into the final seven rounds of the year.
But it’s Newgarden who enters Toronto with two victories in the last four years, taking one with CFH Racing in 2015 and one during his title-winning season with Team Penske in 2017. And it’s Scott Dixon and Will Power, currently fourth and fifth in points, who each enter the weekend with three career Toronto victories; Dixon’s most recent came last year, when he beat Simon Pagenaud and Robert Wickens to the line.
Wickens won’t be racing as he continues to rehabilitate injuries suffered last season, but his Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate and fellow Ontario native James Hinchcliffe will. Currently ninth in points but still searching for his first top five of the season, Hinchcliffe will be seeking out his third Toronto podium in four years after third-place finishes in 2016 and 2017. (He was fourth last year.)
Other past IndyCar winners on the grid include two-time winner Sebastien Bourdais, who triumphed here in both Champ Car and IndyCar, and Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won in 2012. Both Spencer Pigot and Felix Rosenqvist have also won here in Indy Lights, and each will come into Toronto seeking out their first podium of 2019. On the opposite side of the coin, Sage Karam will replace Patricio O’Ward at Carlin Racing this weekend, making not only his first Toronto start, but his first IndyCar road course start since 2015.
The 2019 Honda Indy Toronto will air live on Sunday at 3:30PM ET on NBCSN. Following Toronto, the NTT IndyCar Series returns to action quickly, with only six days between Toronto and the second oval night race of the season in Iowa on July 20.