On tap this week:
- Ganassi looking to repeat 2013 2inTO success
- Hinchcliffe needs to be loose
- F1's policemen get it wrong
- Toronto's danger zones
- Quote of the Week: Dixon praises sneakiness
- Young guns on display in Toronto
With four IndyCar wins in the past six races in Toronto, the Ganassi team heads to the streets of Exhibition Place hoping past success will help deliver its first victory of 2014.
The twin bill in Toronto comes a week after the team came agonizingly close to breaking its 14-race winless streak in Iowa, where Tony Kanaan dominated but lost the lead with two laps to go to eventual winner Ryan Hunter-Reay. The Andretti driver pitted for tires during a late caution and used the new rubber to sweep past on the penultimate lap for the win.
“We dominated the last two races – for one reason or the other, we didn't win – but to win a race, you got to be up front and that's what we've been doing,” said 2012 Indianapolis 500 winner Kanaan, who joined Ganassi this year.
“A win is around the corner, for sure. We're going to Toronto, a race that [Scott] Dixon dominated last year, both doubleheaders. We have high hopes there, trying to finish the season on a high note.”
It was a crushing end for the team that is mired in its longest winless drought in a decade. The team went 24 races spanning the 2004 and 2005 seasons in the old Indy Racing League campaigns without tasting victory.
That certainly wasn't the case last year, where Toronto played a huge role in Dixon securing his third IndyCar title after the New Zealand native swept both ends of the inaugural "2inTO" doubleheader. He went from fourth in the title standings going into Toronto to second by the end of the weekend, and began a run that saw him finish the year 27 points ahead of the Brazilian.
The loss of Dario Franchitti may be the reason for the recent troubles at Ganassi, which for the first time since that disappointing 2005 season, doesn't have a driver in the thick of the IndyCar title fight.
The four-time IndyCar champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner was forced out of the cockpit after a horrifying crash in Houston last season that left him with a severe concussion and a badly broken ankle.
Although he has taken on a new role with the Ganassi outfit as an advisor, many inside the team wouldn't mind having the talented Scot back in the car for Toronto where his three career win record is second only to Michael Andretti's incredible seven.
By the Numbers: In his four starts at home in IndyCar, Andretti driver James Hinchcliffe has posted an average finish of 16th. Not exactly the kind of numbers the 27-year-old from nearby Oakville wants to celebrate.
"Toronto is probably the big question mark," Hinchcliffe said. "Historically even though we have been strong on street courses, Toronto has not been the strongest track for our team. I think we have made some gains in the past 12 months that will definitely help us there."
The good news is that Hinchcliffe is coming off a strong sixth-place outing in Iowa on Saturday, he's put in strong performances on street circuits this year, even if the results haven't always come, and the doubleheader format gives him two shots to put in a good finish at home rather than one.
The bad news is that Hinchcliffe always seems to be the driver who always gets caught out by an untimely caution or is taken out by another driver when things are going well.
And he would love more than anything to reward his hometown fans, Hinchcliffe must also not let the circus that is Toronto get into his head and take over his weekend. He will be leaning on the team and his family for support and to help keep things in check.
"It's so easy to let that stuff get to you," Hinchcliffe said.