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

Carb Day: Tony Kanaan is fastest in final practice for Sunday’s Indy 500

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Tony Kanaan wants to put legendary driver and team owner A.J. Foyt back into Victory Lane at the Indianapolis 500.

Kanaan took a big step toward achieving that goal in Friday’s final practice for Sunday’s 102nd running of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing.

Kanaan was fastest of the 33-driver field, with a best lap around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval at 227.791 mph, more than 2 mph faster than the second-fastest driver, Kanaan’s former teammate, Scott Dixon (225.684 mph).

Foyt won a record-tying four Indy 500’s as a driver. It’s been nearly 20 years since he also won as a team owner in 1999 with Kenny Brack behind the wheel.

Marco Andretti was third-fastest (225.200 mph), followed by Sebastien Bourdais (224.815), Charlie Kimball (224.712), 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato (224.083), Will Power (223.942), Danica Patrick (223.653), Spencer Pigot (223.584) and Ed Jones (223.556).

Other notable driver speeds included:

* Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th fastest (223.219 mph).

* Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden was 15th (223.186 mph).

* Helio Castroneves, hoping to earn a record-tying fourth 500 win, was 17th (222.913 mph).

* Graham Rahal was 21st (222.526).

* Former 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was 26th (221.916 mph), followed by rookie Robert Wickens (221.821 mph), carrying the mantle for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with James Hinchcliffe having failed to qualify for the race.

* The biggest surprise was 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi, who was 32nd fastest (221.374 mph).

We’ll have the full speed grid, as well as full driver quotes, shortly. Please check back soon.

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