What to watch for: Honda Indy Toronto (2pm ET, NBCSN and Live Extra)

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For the fifth time in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season, Will Power will lead the field away from pole position in Toronto after winning the Verizon P1 Award in Saturday’s qualifying session.

Despite flirting with elimination in the second stage of qualifying, the Penske driver managed to rally in the final Fast Six shootout to edge out teammates Simon Pagenaud and Juan Pablo Montoya at the top of the timesheets, handing himself first place on the grid.

The Honda Indy Toronto has evolved into a weekend-long festival of racing in 2015 with the flagship event being the main IndyCar race, which is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 2pm ET on Sunday.

The green flag will fall at 3:08pm, and there are a number of key storylines to watch out for across the course of the race in Toronto as the brutal run of races dating back to the beginning of May finally comes to an end.

CAN POWER CONVERT POLE INTO VICTORY?

Will Power may have five pole positions to his name in 2015, but the defending IndyCar champion has not been so strong in race trim, winning just once at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis in May.

After failing to convert pole positions in St Petersburg, Detroit and Texas into a race win and with no podium finishes in the last three races, Power is in desperate need of a win on Sunday in Toronto if he is to stop Juan Pablo Montoya from breaking away at the top of the championship standings.

TORONTO COULD YIELD ANOTHER NEW WINNER

The start to the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season has been highly unpredictable, with seven drivers sharing the nine race wins thus far – only Montoya and Scott Dixon are repeat winners.

However, Toronto could yet yield an eighth winner in ten races, given that a few high-profile names are without a victory so far this year. Simon Pagenaud’s rotten luck has left him 11th in the championship, but from second at the start, the Frenchman could yet make his first visit to victory lane later today.

Helio Castroneves is also without a win in 2015, and although his task is far greater from seventh place on the grid, the Brazilian driver will still be hoping to get up the order and into the mix after showing a good pace in qualifying.

BLIND RUNNING IN PUSH-TO-PASS STAKES

Toronto marks the first race following INDYCAR’s decision to make data regarding push-to-pass usage private to the respective teams, meaning that we will no longer know when drivers are using a boost, nor how many they have left over.

The thinking is that it will increase overtaking and stop drivers from using it as a defensive tool at the end of a race, but it will be intriguing to see just how effective it is during its first run this weekend in Toronto.

DALY HOPES TO DO HINCH PROUD AT HOME

James Hinchcliffe hasn’t missed an IndyCar race in Toronto since he was 18 months old – and he wasn’t going to let a major accident at Indianapolis end his streak. After being given permission by his doctors, the Canadian will be in attendance for the race as the grand marshal, and will once again give the command for the start of the race as he did in Texas.

His place on the grid has been taken by Conor Daly in the no. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car for what is likely to be the final time this season. Ryan Briscoe is poised to fill in for Hinchcliffe at the final six races, giving Daly – complete with a helmet honoring the Mayor – one final chance to impress.

The IndyCar rookie put in a particularly impressive display in Detroit, charging through the field in the late stages, and a similar performance in Toronto today will undoubtedly leave many of the teams with plenty to ponder heading towards the end of the season.

MORE RAIN?

“Here’s one for all you guys,” Graham Rahal asked his followers this morning. “What’s the record number of IndyCar events in one year that it rained?! I’m thinking 2015!”

Yes, it is raining once again, even in the absence of MST rain magnet Tony DiZinno who has been in Le Mans for the weekend. Although the weather managed to clear up before the warm up, light rain began to fall towards the end of the session, suggesting that we could be in for another chaotic event in Toronto.

The warm-up on Sunday morning saw Andretti’s Carlos Munoz lead the way, posting a fastest lap time of 1:00.2119 to finish just clear of Graham Rahal and Conor Daly.

Simon Pagenaud finished as the lead Penske in seventh, with Montoya and Power ending up 14th and 16th respectively as light rain affected running towards the end of the 30 minute session.

Be sure to join us at 2pm ET on NBCSN and Live Extra for live coverage of the Honda Indy Toronto.

Sports imitates art with Tyler Bereman’s Red Bull Imagination course

Red Bull Imagination Bereman
Chris Tedesco / Red Bull Content Pool
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This past weekend riders took on the Red Bull Imagination, a one-of-a-kind event conceived by Tyler Bereman – an event that blended art, imagination, and sports.

In its third year, Red Bull Imagination opened to the public for the first-time, inviting fans to experience a more personal and creative side of the riders up close and personal.

As the event elevates its stature, the course gets tougher. The jumps get higher and the competition stouter. This year’s course took inspiration from a skatepark, honoring other adrenaline-laced pastimes and competitions.

“There’s a ton of inspiration from other action sports,” Bereman said told Red Bull writer Eric Shirk as he geared up for the event.

MORE: Trystan Hart wins Red Bull Tennessee Knockout 

Bereman was the leading force in the creation of this event and the winner of its inaugural running. In 2022, Bereman had to settle for second with Axell Hodges claiming victory on the largest freeride course created uniquely for the Red Bull Imagination.

Unlike other courses, Bereman gave designer Jason Baker the liberty to create obstacles and jumps as he went. And this was one of the components that helped the course imitate art.

Baker’s background in track design comes from Supercross. In that sport, he had to follow strict guidelines and build the course to a specific length and distance. From the building of the course through the final event, Bereman’s philosophy was to give every person involved, from creators to riders, fans and beyond, the chance to express themselves.

He wanted the sport to bridge the valley between racing and art.

Tyler Bereman uses one of Red Bull Imagination’s unique jumps. Garth Milan / Red Bull Content Pool

Hodges scored a 98 on the course and edged Bereman by two points. Both riders used the vast variety of jumps to spend a maximum amount of time airborne. Hodges’s first run included nearly every available obstacle including a 180-foot jump before backflipping over the main road.

The riders were able to secure high point totals on their first runs. Then, the wind picked up ahead of Round 2. Christian Dresser and Guillem Navas were able to improve their scores on the second run by creating new lines on the course and displaying tricks that did not need the amount of hangtime as earlier runs. They were the only riders to improve from run one to run two.

With first and second secured with their early runs, Hodge and Bereman teamed up to use their time jointly to race parallel lines and create tandem hits. The two competitors met at the center of the course atop the Fasthouse feature and revved their engines in an embrace.

Julien Vanstippen rounded out the podium with a final score of 92; his run included a landing of a 130-foot super flip.