Brain Dump: Toronto 2017

We don’t know if Michael Andretti is a Molson man or a Labatt’s man, but other than celebrating Takuma Sato’s win at the Indy 500 he hasn’t had much reason to kick back and enjoy a cold one after a race weekend. Sure, none of his drivers got the win, but a 2nd, a 4th, and a 6th at Toronto this weekend would provide ample reason to enjoy an adult beverage.

(“You know his family owns a vineyard, right?” – The Spotter)

Despite having no podium finishes in 2017, Alexander Rossi has looked strong at several races this year. He has 5 top 10 finishes, but even at tracks where his race ended early, like Long Beach and Texas, he’s had the pace of the leaders. Today, that finally translated to a nice red Firestone hat, as he managed to finish a few seconds behind race winner Josef Newgarden. If I were a betting man I’m not so sure I wouldn’t take a wager that Rossi doesn’t win at Watkins Glen or Sonoma later this year.

Then in 4th was Marco Andretti, he of the 100-and-oh-who’s-still-counting winless streak over the last 6 years. And it’s not just the winless steak. Andretti hasn’t had a finish this high since his 3rd place finish at Fontana in 2015. That’s right – it’s been two years since he found himself on a podium. But a 4th place in Toronto will be consoling. Sort of. I guess.

And the hard luck of Ryan Hunter-Reay seems to have turned a corner, as he showed a competitive result for a second straight race. Sure, 6th place isn’t worth throwing a parade, but he spent the later part of the race battling with reigning series champ Simon Pagenaud. Maybe that’s symbolic of “hey, if my car doesn’t break or I don’t get caught up in someone else’s wreck then I can still race with anybody” or something like that.

Oh, and Josef Newgarden won, now for the second time in Toronto. He might be the new guy at Team Penske, but so far he’s finished on the podium more times (five) than any of his teammates. Are we entering the Newgarden Era of Indycar Racing? And yes, he had a little luck by pitting before a caution that resulted in the shuffling back of leaders Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves, and Graham Rahal. But come on – how many times do we need to see this happen before teams figure out they should start pitting as early as possible on non-ovals?

Honorable Mentions this week are:
James Hinchcliffe, who for the second straight year finished on the podium in his hometown. Party at James’ place!

Max Chilton, who has finished int he top 10 in 3 of the last four races. Now in his sophomore season he’s showing marked improvement, as he has quietly moved to 11th in the Championship standings.

Spencer Pigot, who passed seven cars in the first 15 laps while working his way up to fourth. Then he lost position having to pit on the caution at Lap 23. Then he got his by Takuma Sato and had to pit again for repairs. Then he went a lap down, and his race day was pretty much done, and he finished 18th. But man, was he fast.

Final Lap: If someone had said to you that after the Toronto race you would see Will Power and Graham Rahal tied in Championship points, would you have believed them?

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