IndyCar: Two red flags for rain postpone first Toronto race start (UPDATED)

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TORONTO, 5:10 p.m. ET – We have confirmation from INDYCAR that the race, if it resumes, will be 65 laps or 90 minutes, whichever comes first.

5:00 p.m. ET – Guess what. We have another red flag. No determination on when this one will get back going, as yet.

4:55 p.m. ET – Since the last update, we’ve had a pace car spin and Will Power spin with contact into the Turn 11 barrier. Thus far, we have not completed any scored laps or time yet.

Power told NBCSN’s Marty Snider, “I just whipped it around, I had no chance. My bad. I don’t know, obviously at the front it’s a lot easier to see. Starting 18th you can’t see a thing. I don’t know. We’ll get out, it’ll take about an hour to fix it. That’s the worst spot on the track to have it. To not even start the race is a bad deal man. You sit there and think that’s a big chunk of points right there. Was not ready for that.”

4:25 p.m. ET – Visibility concerns for drivers has prompted a change from a standing start to a single-file rolling start. The race is expected to go green on the second time by.

4:05 p.m. ET: The first of the Honda Indy Toronto races is now on a temporary delay, as a red flag has been issued just before the start for race one.

What had been a steady drizzle in the hour leading up to the race has intensified; additionally, visibility issues have been reported by drivers around the 1.755-mile circuit.

“As you saw we tried to get the race underway, and see if the rain could ease off. The race technically hasn’t started yet, so teams can go to their box. They can do whatever they want to their cars. Hopefully the weather will ease up,” said IndyCar president of competition and operations Derrick Walker to NBCSN. “There was a lot of feedback from the teams the visibility was pretty bad.”

“It’s just the spray,” Jimmy Vasser, team co-owner of KVSH Racing told NBCSN’s Kevin Lee. “It could be interesting going into Turn 3. With the rain, it changes every situation.”

“The spray’s massive; behind me it’s awful so I can understand this call,” said KVSH’s Sebastien Bourdais, who scored the Verizon P1 award for the race.

“You get a little more anxious; steady rain is easier than rain, sun and rain, sun,” Penske Racing president Tim Cindric told NBCSN as well.

You can watch it live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra; stay tuned for MotorSportsTalk for further updates. The race will be a two-hour time limit, or 85 laps, whichever comes first. Teams are in the pits for changes.

New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
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Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”