THE “BIG THREE” STREAK – Wilson (LEFT, racing Simon Pagenaud) and Bourdais are two drivers who have a legit possibility at ending the streak of races won on road and street course races by drivers from Team Penske, Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport. In 28 straight races since mid-2009, each of these events has gone to someone inside the three power teams at the forefront of the field.
Wilson's won the last two outside that group – Watkins Glen 2009 for Dale Coyne, and Detroit 2008 for Newman/Haas. Bourdais showed flashes of speed in his first road and street course race with a Chevrolet engine for Dragon Racing at Detroit. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Simon Pagenaud, Oriol Servia, Alex Tagliani or any of KV Racing's trio (Tony Kanaan, Rubens Barrichello, E.J. Viso) as possible threats to the establishment at the front.
MAYORAL VISIT HOME – I wonder how James Hinchcliffe is going to handle his homecoming this year. Last year, he was the promising rookie finally getting the chance to race on Sunday after four years previous on the undercard – twice apiece in Atlantics and Indy Lights.
He was unafraid to utilize the “chrome horn” during the race on one or two occasions, thereby doing the one thing he needed to do signal “intent of badassery” on home soil.
Tagliani's in the field too but with no Paul Tracy, and with no disrespect to Tag, the GoDaddy guy is the new face of Canadian drivers this year. It's been a meteoric rise this season as Hinchcliffe jumped to second in points based largely on consistency, but top-six runs in each race he wasn't taken out by the track (all but Detroit) in the first eight races. The rare unforced error in Iowa dropped him to fifth in points, and temporarily halted the momentum entering the race nearest to his hometown of Oakville.
A first win on the streets would be a major boon to the driver and the series, and especially to Canada as a whole; realistically, just getting a result after the DNF in Iowa will do wonders for the Andretti Autosport driver.
It will be rather weird to see a Toronto IndyCar race without PT; the last time it did was in 1991, when “Hinch” was all of 4 years old.
OTHER TIDBITS – Toronto will mark the debut of Lotus' engine upgrades, and for all her and her team's positivity in the face of an accepted down-on-power engine, Simona de Silvestro and HVM Racing are due a weekend where they're legitimately running in the midfield rather than mired at the back.
Bourdais is back after his temporary hiatus. While he's driven sports cars each of the last two weekends, he's in for Katherine Legge in the sole Dragon Racing Chevrolet. Bourdais won at Toronto in 2004 and finished sixth a year ago for Dale Coyne Racing, both team and driver's best result of 2011.
Last year's Toronto race marked the last top-five finish for A.J. Foyt Enterprises, a fifth with Vitor Meira behind the wheel. Outside of Barber when they made the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying and finished seventh in the race, the Mike Conway/Don Halliday package has been mysteriously off the pace for most of the season.
Marco Andretti reprises Dr. Pepper colors on his No. 26 Andretti Autosport entry as he did in Toronto a year ago (RIGHT), with Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves in Hitachi and Penske Truck Rental liveries, respectively. The rest of the field is as is compared to Iowa, although Charlie Kimball's car is listed with the NovoRapid Flex Touch branding this race.
The points variance between overall and just road and street course races this season is staggering. Overall, the gap from points leader Power to sixth-placed Simon Pagenaud is just 40 points, and the top 11 overall are within 100 points. In the road and street course races, Power has 212 points, with 50 points back to Dixon in second on 162. Dixon to eighth-placed Dario Franchitti are separated by only 40, and there could be a big shakeup in both championships this weekend.
The IZOD IndyCar Series Honda Indy Toronto airs live, Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, on ABC.