Canadians Hinchcliffe, Tagliani seek the big result in Toronto

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For the two Canadians in this year’s Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader, there’s been some success but not the ultimate result in front of their home fans.

Alex Tagliani of Lachenaie, Quebec, has a fairly respectable record in CART, Champ Car and now the IZOD IndyCar Series around Exhibition Place. He has two podiums (second in 2001, third in 2005) and nine top-10 finishes in 12 prior Toronto starts.

James Hinchcliffe, of Oakville, Ontario, meanwhile has been snake bit in his two prior Toronto starts. He ended just 14th in his rookie start in 2011 and retired early with engine issues last year.

Both have the built in, added pressure that comes with racing in their home country. Tagliani more than “Hinch” could use a decent result, although the way Hinchcliffe’s bipolar season has gone you may as well pencil him in for at least one win.

Since a 10th-place finish in the season opener at St. Petersburg, a race Hinchcliffe won, Tagliani has yet to make it back to the top 10 in the No. 98 Barracuda Racing Honda – albeit not for a lack of effort. A myriad of bad luck has plagued his season and Tagliani enters just 22nd in the points standings.

Meanwhile, Hinchcliffe has alternated between winning and last place on several occasions in the No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet for Andretti Autosport. He is the only three-time winner in 2013, but that’s been negatively countered by a 24th and two 26th place finishes. He’s fifth in points, and a podium or win would send the crowd wild.

Either way, with two races, there’s a chance both of the locals could have their day on top this weekend.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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