Former Toronto winner Wilson starting 8th in Race 1

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Folks looking for a dark horse in today’s first race of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader (3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network) could do worse than Dale Coyne Racing’s Justin Wilson, who’s rolling off eighth in today’s 85-lap race.

Back in his Champ Car days, Wilson won in 2005 on the 1.75-mile street circuit at Exhibition Place. Additionally, across eight Toronto starts in Champ Car and the IZOD IndyCar Series, he’s collected four Top-5 and five Top-10s finishes.

Wilson could have been higher up the grid for today’s race – and perhaps more likely to avoid potential problems involving the standing start – if not for an incident involving Takuma Sato that effectively ended his group’s qualifying session on Friday.

“It’s a shame that Sato’s crash brought out the yellow because the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda had a chance at advancing to the Firestone Fast Six,” said Wilson. “We were running in the top-10 for most the practice session [Friday] morning, so we know that we have a fast car. It will be interesting to see how things go for the series’ first standing start [today].”

Last summer in Toronto, Wilson was in line for another strong result until a mechanical failure occurred on Lap 65 and eventually caused him to go into the wall. He had been running fifth at the time of the problem.

Earlier this morning, he qualified 14th unofficially for tomorrow’s second race of the weekend.

Watch this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto online and on your mobile device.

Brown: Dennis would have made same decision on McLaren-Honda split

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Zak Brown believes former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis would have made the same decision to cut ties with struggling Formula 1 engine partner Honda had he still been in charge at the team in 2017.

McLaren executive director Brown helped engineer a deal for the team to split with Honda at the end of the 2017 season after three tough seasons that had seen the Japanese manufacturer offer little in the way of performance or reliability.

The decision split opinion, with McLaren spurning a significant annual financial injection from Honda in order to link up with Renault, believing its on-track fortunes had to be prioritized over its commercial interests.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Brown was asked if he believed Dennis – McLaren’s long-running team chief before stepping down at the end of 2016 – would have made the same decision to cut ties with Honda.

“I think he would have,” Brown said.

“He was here when those conversations were ongoing and I think Ron always has and always will have the best interests of McLaren in his heart.

“He is Mr. McLaren. It burns him inside as much as us not to see us winning races.”

Brown also elaborated on the decision to break off the much-lauded relationship with Honda, saying the first signs of trouble with the 2017 power unit were clear in pre-season.

After a number of attempts to try and rectify the situation, Brown and his fellow team bosses felt there was no alternative but to end the Honda deal for 2018.

“We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we’d be much more competitive in 2018,” Brown said.

“Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn’t get there.

“Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top.”