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IndyCar Preview: Honda Indy Toronto

Written by Dan Jones, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Have your passports in hand, and get ready to cross the border, as the NTT IndyCar Series heads to Toronto for Round 10 of the 2023 season, as the series heads into Canada for the sole foreign round of the year. With the summer swing in full-flow, and pivotal rounds of the season coming up ahead, the same question remains, as in my last two previews - can anyone stop Alex Palou?

Palou triumphed once again, this time at Mid-Ohio; Credit -

And the answer to that was no, back at Mid-Ohio, Palou ran away to take a third consecutive victory, and fourth in five races. A combination of excellent strategy, coupled with Palou’s supremacy over the field meant the competition stood no chance. However, others are starting to threaten the Spaniard. Colton Herta picked up a second consecutive pole position, as he finally looks back to his normal self - continuing his quest for a podium in 2023. His race fell apart in Mid-Ohio after he sped in the pitlane - but he could be a challenge to Palou in the upcoming races.

Don’t forget Pato O’Ward too. The Mexican made a rare error in qualifying, spinning, and despite starting on the last row, he recovered to eighth place - even on the aggressive, unfavoured three-stop strategy, and could well have had the opportunity to challenge Palou, had he driven a clean qualifying session.

The veterans were on it too, with Scott Dixon was chasing Palou toward the end of the race, and Will Power rounding out the podium. Rahal Letterman Lanigan will take the most from Mid-Ohio though, as they finally look to be coming out of their slump. Graham Rahal qualified on the front row, and was on for a podium if not for a pit-stop error, with Christian Lundgaard starring once again, finishing fourth on the road.

Credit - Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images

But let’s look forward to Toronto, a narrow and challenging street course, a challenge for even the best of drivers. The lap starts with a medium-length straight down Prince’s Boulevard, and into the picturesque right-hander at Turn One, before a quick right-hand kink at Turn 2 brings you along the back straight - the best overtaking opportunity on the circuit along Lakeshore Boulevard.

Then you come into the mickey-mouse section. A heavy braking zone at the end of Lakeshore brings you to a narrow double right-hander, before a quick left onto Ontario Drive. The twisty section continues with a slow left-hander into Prince’s Boulevard again, before a never-ending right-hander brings you onto Manitoba Drive.

A quick kink at Turn seven brings you to a sequence of 90 degree corners. A right-hander at eight, left-hander at nine, right-hander at 10, and a left-hander at 11 to complete the short and twisty lap at Toronto - with qualifying Lap Times previously under a minute around the 2.874km (1.755 mile) circuit.

But who’s gone well on the Toronto Streets? As usual, Scott Dixon is king, winning here four times, including both events of the 2013 double-header, the 2018 event, as well as last year’s visit - when he finally broke his one-year wait for a win, and equalled Mario Andretti at 52 on the all-time wins list, in an iconic moment.

Dixon triumphed at Toronto last year; Credit - Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Will Power is next - winning in 2007, 2010 and 2016 - can he finally stand on the top step of the podium in 2023, and look like the Champion he was last year - just like Dixon did last season. Josef Newgarden has also unsurprisingly won here twice, in 2015 and 2017, whilst Ed Carpenter stand-in, Ryan Hunter-Reay has also won this event - way back in 2012 for Andretti Autosport.

The other active driver to win here is Simon Pagenaud - but we won’t be seeing the Frenchman racing at Toronto this weekend. Pagenaud was declared medically unfit by IndyCar officials after his monster crash at Mid-Ohio, which saw him sit out of the race for Conor Daly. And Daly won’t be racing, despite his impressive outing in Mid-Ohio, instead it will be Meyer Shank Racing’s IMSA Driver, Tom Blomqvist - who is heavily rumoured to take over Castroneves’ seat for next season - will be stepping in the #60 this weekend for his IndyCar debut.

Who else can we look out for in Toronto? There’s no way you can look past Alex Palou in his current form. Palou has only raced at Toronto once - which may not play to his advantage, but he still finished a respectable sixth in last year's event - and in the form he’s in, you can’t doubt him. But I’d watch out for Colton Herta. Herta has taken pole at the last two events in Road America and Mid-Ohio, and he was particularly strong here last year as he took pole and finished second after Dixon jumped him in the pits. Herta looks to be recovering his form - and at a street circuit that he tends to go well at - this could be his chance.

Josef Newgarden will also be looking for a big weekend, around a track he wouldn’t consider his strongest. With Palou over two race wins ahead, Newgarden looks the most likely to get close to Palou in the standings, and needs a huge weekend in Toronto to recover the gap, especially after his frustrating weekend at Mid-Ohio. Around a track he struggles at - it will be a mighty uphill challenge - but it’s what champions are made of. Newgarden will be licking his lips at the upcoming Iowa double header - but Toronto could be a huge turning point.

Look out for Pato O’Ward too. Results haven’t gone the Mexican’s way this year, and Toronto isn’t a track he hasn’t previously gone at well, either. Similarly to Newgarden, he is very much a championship outsider, but could still be in contention - particularly when you consider the Iowa double-header next weekend. Toronto could be a turning point for O’Ward, and a huge confidence boost. It was one of very few circuits O’Ward lacked pace compared to his teammates last year - where Felix Rosenqvist claimed his first AMSP podium - can O’Ward put things right this time?

So many storylines coming into Toronto. Can O’Ward and Newgarden kickstart a championship push? How will Tom Blomqvist perform on his IndyCar debut? Can Herta finally get the win he deserves? But the biggest question of all: can ANYONE stop Alex Palou? All your questions will be answered, come this weekend.


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