Johnstone pleased to have dealt with date shift challenge for Honda Indy Toronto weekend

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President of Honda Indy Toronto Charlie Johnstone has taken the logistical and scheduling challenge of the 2015 event in his stride, believing that the revamped format of the race weekend will only help to draw in new fans for the IndyCar Series.

After functioning as a double-header round in both 2013 and 2014, this year’s Honda Indy Toronto has been reduced to just a single race and has been moved from its regular July slot to the middle of June due to the Pan Am Games.

This has produced a number of competitive and logistical challenges for the event organizers, but Johnstone has taken all of this in his stride and instead worked to create a bumper program of racing for the Toronto weekend.

“We’re not without our challenges this year from an operations standpoint,” Johnstone said. “But we’ve known these things were happening for a long time and have planned for them.

“I always chuckle when people ask, ‘What is it you do the rest of the year?’ Well, we plan for these weeks and days leading into it. Here we are race week and we’re ready to go.”

The Verizon IndyCar Series is supported by Indy Lights as per usual in Toronto, but has also been joined by six other championships including the Stadium Super Trucks series and the Canadian Touring Car Series.

“I think that’s the excitement of the weekend,” Johnstone said. “It’s not just about one series. It’s the Super Trucks, it’s Porsche, it’s the Canadian Touring Car Series, it’s the whole Road to Indy that we’ve got.

“Of course, it starts on Friday with Fan Friday so we open up our gates tomorrow for free, and we just ask for a donation to Make‑a‑Wish Foundation. From there, the Honda Dealers Association and Honda match that, so we raise a lot of money for a really great cause.

“It’s really about the whole festival atmosphere. It’s getting people down to the site that maybe haven’t been here before to really see and hear the sounds of Indy cars and see the drivers and get up close. That’s what creates that energy and excitement.”

Johnstone is confident that the festival atmosphere and extensive track action will do a great amount to win over new fans and encourage them to visit an IndyCar race in the future.

“The more we can do that to get people down on‑site, I think that continues for the next race,” Johnstone said.

“It helps the broadcast, people get engaged, they see it, they feel it, they smell it, and they come back next year, so that’s what we’ll continue to build on.”

IndyCar entry lists for Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

IndyCar entry lists Indianapolis
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There are 25 drivers on the NTT IndyCar Series entry lists at Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course with a few new yet familiar faces for the Oct. 2-3 race weekend.

Four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais will make his season debut in the No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet (shifting Dalton Kellett to the No. 41) with AJ Foyt Racing, which he is joining full time next season. James Hinchcliffe, who had run three races with Andretti Autosport, will return in place of Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda. Helio Castroneves will drive Arrow McLaren SP’s No. 7 Dallara-Chevy for Oliver Askew, who is out with concussion-like symptoms.

Sage Karam, who has two IndyCar starts this year at IMS (the road course on July 4 and the Indy 500 on Aug. 23), also will return to the series in Dreyer & Reinbold’s No. 24 Dallara-Chevrolet.

HARVEST GP ENTRY LISTS: Friday l Saturday

Friday and Saturday of the Harvest GP presented by GMR will mark the second and third races this season on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. While the July 4 race on the circuit was 80 laps, Friday’s distance is 85 laps, and Saturday will be a 75-lap event.

Championship leader Scott Dixon led 26 of 80 laps to win the July 4 race at the IMS road course. With three races remaining in the series, the five-time series champion enters with a 72-point lead on Josef Newgarden.

Click here to see who’s on the IndyCar entry lists in Race 1 and in Race 2 for the Harvest GP presented by GMR at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.


START TIMES AND TV INFO FOR INDYCAR AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY ROAD COURSE (all times ET):

Thursday

IndyCar NTT Series practice: 2:25-3:40 p.m., NBC Sports Gold

IndyCar qualifying, Race 1: 6:20 p.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

Friday

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 1: 3:30 p.m. (green flag, 5 p.m.), USA Network, NBC Sports Gold

Saturday

—IndyCar qualifying: 10:20 a.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 2: 2:30 p.m (green flag, 2:31 p.m.)., NBC, NBC Sports Gold