Dixon Toronto’s biggest weekend winner, but there were other stars

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Scott Dixon won everything but the lottery this weekend in Toronto, and hell, if he stayed in town for a few more days you’d have to put odds on him for that versus the field, too.

Still, there were others besides the New Zealander who starred during the IZOD IndyCar Series’ Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader weekend. Dixon’s numbers are listed below, among them, with the rest of the standouts and winners from the two days of racing.

  • Scott Dixon. Two wins, one pole, 95 laps led, 105 of a maximum 108 points scored and closed to within 29 points of the IZOD IndyCar Series championship lead. Oh, and an extra $100,000 from SONAX for sweeping the double. Yeah, I’d say it was a pretty good weekend for the quiet, ninja Kiwi assassin from Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
  • Sebastien Bourdais. Cal Naughton Jr. famously once said, “Frenchie can drive.” It’s not that Bourdais forgot his craft, but after dwelling in anonymity and frustration for the first 11 races of the year, back-to-back podiums have revitalized him and Jay Penske’s Dragon Racing organization. He and new engineer Tom Brown have almost immediately gelled. He said this weekend that Toronto has been his springboard the last two years, and looks to make 2013 a three-peat of recoveries.
  • Dario Franchitti. Remember when Franchitti was 26th and last in points after the first two races? Yeah, me neither, except I have to bring that up to note how far he has come since. A reinstated third on Saturday and fourth on Sunday, after a comeback from an early tire issue, makes it nine top-10 finishes in the last 11 races, and Franchitti has recovered to seventh place in the championship.
  • Mike Conway. The biggest problem for Conway this weekend is that he set the bar so high at Detroit that a repeat was almost expected. So when he had back-to-back miserable qualifying runs of 20th and 23rd, with a setup that didn’t take as kindly to the streets of Toronto as Detroit, there were some who counted him out. But he charged through the field on both occasions, including some ballsy outside passes at Turn 3, to end with a pair of sevenths in Dale Coyne’s second car. He’s also confirmed for Houston, but there’s still a good chance we’ll see him before.
  • The Honda Indy Toronto fans. Yes, they got the short end of the stick on Saturday with the aborted standing start, and voiced their displeasure with a chorus of boos you could have heard in Edmonton. But to INDYCAR and the promoter’s combined credit, they made sure to enhance the weekend for the ticket-buyers and try it again on Sunday. As Marco Andretti said after Saturday, the series should do what the fans wanted. Not to mention, there were five other series on the weekend docket, and that made it worth every penny to attend in person.

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

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There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.