The 2012 IndyCar title rivals among those with a tough two days in Toronto

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Ryan Hunter-Reay won at Toronto in 2012 and finished third in 2011. Will Power is a two-time Toronto winner.

The two combined didn’t have a finish better than 15th in either race this weekend.

They are among those needing to leave their bad luck behind in Canada and move onto Mid-Ohio seeking a rebound. Here’s what happened to them and some of the others who could have used a better weekend in Toronto.

  • Ryan Hunter-Reay and Will Power. What a tough weekend for the championship rivals of 2012. “RHR,” whose momentum was rolling through the short oval run of the season, has hit the skids in the last three races through almost no fault of his own. On Saturday, the defending champion had two stalls on pit lane and a nose change that ultimately left him 18th. He ended a spot worse on Sunday after last lap contact with Power exiting Turn 1, heading to Turn 2. Power’s trouble spot all weekend was Turn 3, as twice on Saturday he overcooked his braking point and slid off line, while the contact on Sunday left him 18th.
  • Takuma Sato. If Franchitti’s been the top riser in points, Sato has been on an uncontrollable decline since Brazil. He led the points entering Indianapolis; he’s now 12th, nine races later, with just one top-10 finish in that time frame. He retired with a broken exhaust header on Saturday and from contact on Sunday after being caught up in the RHR-Power contact, with nowhere to go. Tough days for the A.J. Foyt Racing team and driver, who seek to recapture their early season momentum.
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. The pair of Graham Rahal and James Jakes took four combined top-10s at Detroit and a grand total of zero from Toronto. Rahal’s Saturday charge was halted by contact with Tristan Vautier – which didn’t amuse his dad and team boss Bobby – and an anonymous run to 13th occurred on Sunday. Jakes, meanwhile, had the pace to be a contender as he made the Firestone Fast Six on Friday, but was saddled with a 10-spot grid penalty. He recovered to 12th. On Sunday, Jakes made a rare mistake when he hit the curbs hard through Turn 5, with the jolt forcing his hands off the wheel and sending him into the wall.
  • Sebastian Saavedra. The Colombian has punched above his weight at times this year, but with a mostly new crew in his camp and teammate Sebastien Bourdais finally finding form with new engineer, it was a rough weekend for the “junior Seb” at Dragon Racing. Last place on the grid on Saturday and getting caught up on the Lap 65 four-car pileup then left him 16th, while he was slightly better on Sunday, ending 15th. Saavedra is just three points ahead of Mike Conway – Saavedra has driven all 13 races this year, Conway just five.

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.