The IndyCars do a doubleheader in Toronto [Honda Indy Toronto Live Thread]
The jokes were flying after last week's race at Pocono about the Target Chip Ganassi team being plucky underdogs. The team used fuel strategy to pick up an unexpected podium sweep. While that seems like standing operating procedure for Ganassi, the win by Scott Dixon was the team's first of the year. Did that turn the light bulb on, so to speak? The qualifying results for both races indicate yes. Dario Franchitti, third at Pocono, will start on the pole for today's race, while Dixon grabbed the pole for the 2nd in a blistering time of 58.96 seconds. Charlie Kimball isn't as high placed as his teammates (16th in both races), but he's coming off a 2nd at Pocono, and finished 2nd here at Toronto last year.
Other drivers have shown in both qualifying sessions that they will be contenders. Sebastien Bourdais desperately needs a good result, and starting 2nd in the first race and 7th in the second gives him a good chance to do just that. Will Power and Tony Kanaan qualified in the top six both races. Power is still looking for his first win of the season, while Kanaan is trying to stay in the periphery of the championship hunt. Ryan Briscoe qualified in the top ten both races in the #4 Panther Racing car. That relationship is looking more and more permanent, both this year and beyond. On the opposite side of the grid, Mike Conway, who dominated the Detroit doubleheader, has looked anything but dominant. He will start 20th in the first race, and as of now dead last in the second. Whatever mojo Conway and the #18 car had at Belle Isle has not transferred here. Hometown hero James Hinchcliffe also can't be thrilled so far this weekend, spent mostly midpack.
Speaking of the championship, Helio Castroneves comes to the doubleheader with a 23 point lead over Ryan Hunter-Reay. Helio will start 7th and 3rd in the two races. Hunter-Reay right there with him 6th and 4th. With two races this weekend, up to 106 points can be scored by one driver. This week could see further separation at the top, or those further down in the title race could see themselves right back in it.
One other wrinkle this weekend is standing starts. For the first time maybe ever, IndyCars under this sanction will have a standing start in today's race. Sunday's race will be the usual rolling starts. It adds a level of uncertainly to the proceedings, as most of the drivers haven't done a standing start since their time in more junior series, or at best, the final years of Champ Car. Some people are excited for this, others are dreading. I'm an agnostic about it myself, so I'm willing to see how it goes.
Race coverage both Saturday and Sunday begins at 3:00 on NBC Sports Network, with green flag scheduled for 3:40 eastern both days. Timing and scoring can be found here, while More Front Wing's Event Summary can be found here. Q it up for the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader.