At long last, the NTT IndyCar Series is racing again in Canada. After cancellations due to the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, the Honda Indy Toronto is back this Sunday, July 17th.
The timing of the race north of the border couldn’t be better following some fun mid-week silly season drama between Chip Ganassi Racing and Arrow McLaren SP over the services of defending series champion Alex Palou.
Lawyers, start your arguments.
CGR issued a release on Tuesday stating that its eponymous team owner decided to exercise his option on the final year of Palou’s contact for the 2023 IndyCar season. Palou tweeted later in the afternoon that the press press release quote was not his and that he did not approve of the release before stating that he was leaving the team at the end of the 2022 season.
McLaren then released a statement in the evening that they secured Palou’s services for 2023, leading to a CGR representative to say that Palou was under contract to the team for 2023. After Laguna Seca, the arguments will start over the driver who is currently fourth in IndyCar points.
Meanwhile, as IndyCar visits Exhibition Place for the first time since 2019, many drivers in the field will have no Indy car race experience around the 1.786 mile street circuit. Of the 25 drivers on the entry list, 12 of them have never raced an Indy car here while seven of those drivers have no experience at all at this street circuit.
Space on pit road is an issue as well. Since pit road was moved to the opposite side of Turns 9-11 in 2016, no more than 23 cars have started this race. With pit boxes 35 feet long, drivers will have to carefully maneuver their way around a twisty pit road with other cars entering and exiting their respective pit stalls.
In the points battle, Marcus Ericsson leads Will Power by 20 points with Josef Newgarden third in points, 14 points behind Power. Scott McLaughlin won the most recent IndyCar race two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and is currently seventh in points.
Also racing in Toronto are the first two steps on the Road to Indy in USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000, the Porsche Cup Canadian series and the NASCAR Pinty’s Series.
IndyCar’s ability to race in Canada was aided in part by its high vaccination rate. Canada requires all visitors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and last September Mark Miles said that every IndyCar driver was vaccinated, helping pave the way for IndyCar to return north of the border.
The entirety of INDYCAR on-air broadcasts for the weekend will be on Peacock. Friday’s practice session will be at 2:30 p.m. ET. Saturday’s on-track running starts with a 10:00 a.m. ET practice and a 2:00 p.m. ET qualifying session. The Sunday morning warmup is at 10:55 a.m. ET and the race broadcast starts at 3:00 p.m. ET. The race will be 85 laps.