IndyCar: Toronto features only one Canadian driver for first time since 1990

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Canadians are known for being some of the most dedicated, hearty and passionate fans of open-wheel racing.

Ordinarily at the Honda Indy Toronto around the streets of Exhibition Place, they’ve had two or more Canadians to root for in the main race.

This year, there is but one: James Hinchcliffe. And Hinch, the sole Canuck in the field of 23 during this weekend’s pair of Verizon IndyCar Series races, is the first driver to fly the flag solo in this event since 1990.

Two veterans have seen their full-time IndyCar careers come to an end in the last few years since Hinchcliffe was a rookie in 2011, in the form of Alex Tagliani (a 14-time Toronto starter) and two-time Toronto winner Paul Tracy (a 19-time Toronto starter).

PT is, of course, now in the booth for NBCSN for coverage (Saturday and Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports Live Extra). A 19-time starter, a 16th-place finish for Dragon Racing in 2011 marked Tracy’s last ever race finished in the Verizon IndyCar Series. He’s also the most recent Canadian to win on home soil, having captured the 2003 Champ Car race there.

Here’s the Canadian honor roll between the first Toronto race in 1986 and today. But it’s been 24 years when the last Honda Indy – then Molson Indy – went off with just one Canadian. In 1990, it was Scott Goodyear.

  • James Hinchcliffe, 2011-present
  • Alex Tagliani, 2000-2013
  • Paul Tracy, 1992-2011
  • Andrew Ranger, 2005-2006
  • Patrick Carpentier, 1997-2004
  • Greg Moore, 1996-1999
  • Scott Goodyear, 1987, 1989-1994, 1996
  • Jacques Villeneuve (II), 1994-1995
  • Ross Bentley, 1992-1994
  • John Jones, 1988-1989, 1991
  • Jacques Villeneuve (I), 1986

It’s worth asking, then, who the talented Canadians are in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder. Here’s the quick summation of who’s where at the moment. Keep an eye on this group, particularly Hargrove, to see who could be next after Hinchcliffe to make his debut in the Verizon IndyCar Series:

  • Indy Lights: Zack Meyer, Matthew Di Leo
  • Pro Mazda: Scott Hargrove, Garett Grist, Dalton Kellett
  • USF2000: Daniel Burkett, Nathan Blok, James Dayson

Helio Castroneves will replace ailing Oliver Askew for IndyCar at IMS

Helio Castroneves replacing Askew
James Black/IndyCar
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Helio Castroneves will return to the NTT IndyCar Series next weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, replacing Arrow McLaren SP driver Oliver Askew in the No. 7 Dallara- Chevrolet.

The team announced in a Thursday release that Askew wasn’t cleared by the IndyCar medical team after reporting “a balance and coordination issue” after the Sept. 12-13 race weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The Associated Press’ Jenna Fryer reported that Askew has been experiencing the concussion-like symptoms since his Aug. 23 wreck in the Indy 500.

Askew was placed in IndyCar’s Return to Racing Protocol. The rookie has endured an up-and-down season, suffering another hard crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the July 4 race on the road course. He also finished third and sixth on back-to-back races at Iowa Speedway in July.

“This was an incredibly tough call but I have to follow the advice of the INDYCAR Medical Team and my doctors,” Askew said in the release. “My priority right now is focusing on my health. Despite not being in the car, I will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Harvest GP, giving whatever insight and support to Arrow McLaren SP that I can.”

Castroneves will be driving this weekend at Mid-Ohio for Team Penske in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner has said he actively is seeking a ride for the 2021 season in IndyCar or IMSA with the demise of Penske’s DPi program as Acura switches to new teams next year.

Here’s the release from Arrow McLaren SP:

Arrow McLaren SP driver Oliver Askew will withdraw from the INDYCAR Harvest Grand Prix, after being declared not fit to drive by the INDYCAR Medical Team.

Following the INDYCAR race at Mid-Ohio, Oliver reported a balance and coordination issue, which triggered an examination from the INDYCAR Medical Team. As a result, Oliver is not medically cleared to race and is subject to INDYCAR’s Return to Racing Protocol.

“This was an incredibly tough call but I have to follow the advice of the INDYCAR Medical Team and my doctors. My priority right now is focusing on my health,” Askew said. “Despite not being in the car, I will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Harvest GP, giving whatever insight and support to Arrow McLaren SP that I can.”

Askew will be replaced in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet by Helio Castroneves for the upcoming doubleheader Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

“The welfare of Oliver, our team members and fellow competitors is paramount,” said Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt.

“We therefore support Oliver and the decision of INDYCAR. Withdrawing to focus on his health and recovery is the right thing to do.”

Helio will join Pato O’Ward, driver of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, to complete the team’s driver lineup in Indianapolis.

“First and foremost, we wish Oliver the best and that he is able to take time to recover,” said Helio. “I look forward to getting back on track and helping to build on the great progress that Arrow McLaren SP has made this year.”