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Saturday, July 22, 2017
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IndyCar Series at Toronto: Five things to watch

Helio Castroneves ended his over winless drought of over two years last week at Iowa. Can he win at Toronto this Sunday? (Associated Press photo)
Helio Castroneves ended his over winless drought of over two years last week at Iowa. Can he win at Toronto this Sunday? (Associated Press photo)
Will Power sits fourth in the points standings entering this weekend's race at Toronto, a circuit in which he has won three times. (Associated Press file photo)
Will Power sits fourth in the points standings entering this weekend's race at Toronto, a circuit in which he has won three times. (Associated Press file photo)

More Information

HONDA INDY TORONTO, Sunday, 3 p.m., CNBC

TRACK FACTS

Type: 1.786-mile temporary street course
Opened: 1986
Capacity: N/A
Lap record: 57.143 (Gil de Ferran, CART, 1999)

RACE FACTS

Laps: 85
Distance: 151.81 miles

OPEN WHEEL AT TORONTO

Races: 36
Winningest driver: Michael Andretti (7)
Winningest team: Newman/Haas Racing (7)
Winningest engine manufacturer: Chevrolet (11)

RECENT RACE WINNERS AT TORONTO

2012 - Ryan Hunter-Reay
2013 - Scott Dixon (two wins in doubleheader format)
2014 - Sebastien Bourdais and Mike Conway
2015 - Josef Newgarden
2016 - Will Power

POINTS STANDINGS (after 11 of 17 races)

1. Scott Dixon, 403
2. Helio Castroneves, -8
3. Simon Pagenaud, -31
4. Will Power, -53
5. Josef Newgarden, -56

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Friday, July 14, 2017 02:15 pm

The IndyCar Series heads north of the border this weekend, with Round 11 of the 2017 season coming on the streets of Toronto. 

A longtime staple on the CART and Champ Car slate from the 1980s through unification in the late 2000s, the bumpy, tight 11-turn circuit presents a significant challenge to drivers on track and engineers seeking the right setup. 

Here are five things to watch this weekend in Ontario: 

1. SILLY SEASON RUMORS

IndyCar may be in the thick of the 2017 season, but talk surrounding driver changes for 2018 is already beginning to capture some attention. 

With Team Penske's announcement this week that it will return to sports cars next season, talk continues to persist that Helio Castroneves will be headed to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for 2018. 

The plan, in theory, is for Team Penske to run Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya at Indianapolis in May, but otherwise downsize to three full-time entries in IndyCar in 2018. 

There is also talk that Chip Ganassi Racing could trim to three drivers due to sponsorship woes, with Tony Kanaan looking to be the odd man out. 

Couple that with a new rumor that could see Marco Andretti also going to sports cars — a story that Andretti, who enters the weekend 15th in points, vehemently denied on Friday. 

"That's the case of a journalist doing as bad a job as I'm doing this year," Andretti told IndyCar Radio. "I'm not going anywhere."

There are still more questions than answers when it comes to the 2018 driver lineup, but it will be an interesting topic to follow over the next few months through the second half of the season and beyond.  

2. NO MORE ALESHIN? 

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports made a driver change this week, removing Mikhail Aleshin from the No. 7 Lucas Oil Honda. 

Replacing the Russian is Sebastian Saavedra, a veteran of the series who most recently ran for Juncos Racing at this year's Indianapolis 500. 

As for the reasoning behind the change, no one from SPM is openly talking, with a press release from the team stating that "neither the team nor Aleshin will be providing any further comments at this time."

Aleshin is in attendance with the team this weekend in Toronto. He is currently a disappointing 16th in points and has had several incidents this season resulting in crashed race cars, mostly recently last week at Iowa while running in the top 5. 

It is uncertain whether Saavedra will run the rest of the season for SPM, but there is a strong possibility that Aleshin's time running for the team is over. 

3. BOUNCEBACK FOR DIXON? 

You know you are having a solid season when an eighth-place finish could be described as disappointing. 

That's how you could rate Scott Dixon at Iowa last week, a race in which he started towards the back and never was a factor. 

The finish was the third in four races in which Dixon finished outside the top five. Of course, the outlier in that was his victory at Road America. 

Dixon's inability to put added cushion between himself and his top challengers in the points standings is a story to watch. Castroneves enters this weekend lurking just eight points behind as he seeks his first-ever IndyCar points title. 

Fortunately for Dixon, he has had success at Toronto, winning twice in 2013 with seven top-5 finishes in 12 starts. 

4. HERE COMES POWER

Will Power's fourth-place finish at Iowa jumped him up two spots to fourth in the standings, 53 points behind Dixon. 

While Castroneves and Pagenaud are closer to Dixon, Power may very well be the biggest threat. The Australian has strung together four straight top-5 finishes, including the victory at Texas. No active driver has won at Toronto more than Power, who has a trio of victories and five podiums in 12 starts. 

Keep an eye on the No. 12 Team Penske machine this weekend as he attempts to further slice into Dixon's points lead. 

5. RETURN OF BOURDAIS?

After a wicked crash at Indianapolis in which he suffered a fractured pelvis and hip injuries, Sebastien Bourdais has been on the mend in the hopes that he can return to the car at some point this season. 

While the original goal was to be in the cockpit for the season finale at Sonoma in September, Bourdais' recovery has gone faster than expected, with the Frenchman now hoping to return for Watkins Glen two weeks before the Sonoma event. 

Bourdais is in Toronto this weekend to help out his Dale Coyne Racing team and is in good spirits, all the more amazing considering the impact sustained when he lost control of the car during Indy 500 qualifying.  

More Information

HONDA INDY TORONTO, Sunday, 3 p.m., CNBC

TRACK FACTS

Type: 1.786-mile temporary street course
Opened: 1986
Capacity: N/A
Lap record: 57.143 (Gil de Ferran, CART, 1999)

RACE FACTS

Laps: 85
Distance: 151.81 miles

OPEN WHEEL AT TORONTO

Races: 36
Winningest driver: Michael Andretti (7)
Winningest team: Newman/Haas Racing (7)
Winningest engine manufacturer: Chevrolet (11)

RECENT RACE WINNERS AT TORONTO

2012 - Ryan Hunter-Reay
2013 - Scott Dixon (two wins in doubleheader format)
2014 - Sebastien Bourdais and Mike Conway
2015 - Josef Newgarden
2016 - Will Power

POINTS STANDINGS (after 11 of 17 races)

1. Scott Dixon, 403
2. Helio Castroneves, -8
3. Simon Pagenaud, -31
4. Will Power, -53
5. Josef Newgarden, -56

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