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.

Valtteri Bottas fastest in Friday F1 practices for Russian Grand Prix

F1 Sochi Valtteri Bottas
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SOCHI, Russia — Valtteri Bottas paced both F1 practices Friday for the Russian Grand Prix on Friday as Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton was slowed by damaged tires in the first session.

Bottas turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 33.519 seconds in the second session that bettered Hamilton’s 1:33.786.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was more than a second behind Bottas in third at 1:34.577, followed by the McLaren Racing duo of Carlos Sainz Jr. (1:34.723) and Lando Norris (1:34.847).

In the first F1 session at Sochi, Valtteri Bottas set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 34.923 seconds, beating Ricciardo by half a second. Max Verstappen was third quickest in his Red Bull, a further 0.147 back.

Hamilton could only manage 19th fastest after locking up his tires and leaving them with a flat spot. Ferrari again struggled to find pace with Sebastian Vettel ninth and Charles Leclerc 11th.

HISTORY IN SIGHTLewis Hamilton aims to tie Michael Schumacher’s record

The first session was briefly red-flagged when Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams. Carlos Sainz Jr. spun his McLaren backward into a barrier and broke off his rear wing.

Verstappen spun during the second session but avoided damage to his car.