Sunday doubleheader provides new challenge for IndyCar drivers, teams

The second Toronto IndyCar race will begin with a standing start. (Photo: Getty Images)

Robert Laberge/Getty Images

After racing 65 laps under hot and humid conditions, some of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers looked like they had already put in a full day of work after Sunday’s first race of the Honda Indy Toronto 2 in T.O. That, however, was just the warm-up act because another 65-lap or 80 minute contest – whichever comes first – is still on the agenda.

Sebastien Bourdais claimed his first IndyCar Series victory since winning at Mexico City on November 11, 2007 in Sunday’s opening race. Helio Castroneves of Team Penske finished second and combined with teammate Will Power‘s 10th place finish takes a 28-point lead in the championship. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who entered the race just 32 points behind Castroneves, crashed on Lap 39 and finished 21st. That dropped him from third to fourth in the standings and he enters race the second race 64 points behind Castroneves. Simon Pagenaud’s fourth-place finish moves him up to third in the standings, 58 points out of the lead.

The lineup for Race 2 is based off the entrant points following Race 1 so Castroneves starts on the pole alongside Power with Pagenaud on the inside of Row 2 flanked by Hunter-Reay.

It’s the first true doubleheader for IndyCar by having two races in the same day since June 28, 1981, at the 1.522-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway when Rick Mears swept the Kraco Twin 125s. A Verizon IndyCar Series twin bill of shortened race distances was contested at Texas Motor Speedway on June 11, 2011. Dario Franchitti and Power were the winners of the 114-lap Firestone Twin 275.

The teams and crew members now have to prepare the cars for another race on the tight 11-turn, 1.75-mile temporary street circuit at Toronto’s Exhibition Place. And some of the best-conditioned drivers such as Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Graham Rahal and Helio Castroneves realized they needed time to rejuvenate before going back into battle.

"We were just an average car in Race 1 so we have a little bit to work on for Race 2," said fifth-place finisher Scott Dixon. "The mentality of a short race is you have to get after it. If you don’t get after it you are going to get hosed. That’s how it goes.

"The biggest thing is to try and prepare the car for Race 2 and get it better. That is where we are struggling right now. If the car is better then it is physically easier to drive. The weather could change in the next four hours, though. We have to think about improving the car and get things better."

Dixon said he can’t take a nap because of autograph sessions and personal appearances that were already schedule before Saturday’s rainout of Race 1.

Mike Hull, managing director of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, addressed what needs to be done in such a short turnaround.

"What you do is reset the clock in your mind," Hull said. "This race is over and we have to start on the next one with a fresh mindset. What we gained today is we learned a lot about the race track itself today and more about ourselves, where our cars are strong and weak. Now we have time to go back and make them better.

"In our case with all four of entries we changed our conditioning program for our athletes who go over the wall. They should be mentally right to be physically capable because that is what we have worked on during the offseason. It’s fun to watch doubleheaders on the same day. It’s a great experience."

Rahal called it a fun race as he battled his way to sixth place and can’t wait to resume competition later today.

"It’s going to be tough but I feel pretty good; I feel pretty strong," Rahal said. "I’m going to try to take a nap and relax. The good thing for the crew is it’s only one pit stop but in between races there are going to a lot of work done to the car."

IndyCar President of Competition Derrick Walker was glad to see the sun finally come out after Saturday’s rain that led to some typical street racing.

"It made what happened yesterday worth it," said Walker. "We were ready to start a race yesterday, we couldn’t, so we picked up where we left off yesterday."

And now the drivers and teams of the Verizon IndyCar Series have to pick up where Race 1 finished with another street fight beginning at 4:15 p.m.


Be sure to catch Bruce Martin’s Honda IndyCar Report on RACEDAY on FOX Sports Radio every Sunday from 6-8 a.m. Eastern Time.