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Honda Canada extends Toronto Indy sponsorship through 2020

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The Honda Indy Toronto will stay as such and a part of the Verizon IndyCar Series calendar through 2020, as Honda Canada announced a sponsorship extension for the next few years.

The full release with all the details is below.

Honda Indy Toronto along with its owners and operators, Green Savoree Racing Promotions, is proud to announce the extension of its sponsorship agreement with Honda Canada Inc. for the annual event at Exhibition Place through 2020.

Honda Canada has been the title sponsor of the race since 2009 when Green Savoree Racing Promotions relaunched the event with the Verizon IndyCar series as the feature. The 2018 Honda Indy Toronto will be a special event with Honda’s 10th year of partnership.

“Honda’s DNA is built on racing – a heritage started by our founder Mr. Honda – which we’ve celebrated and are very proud of for nearly 60 years. Honda and IndyCar have enjoyed a fantastic partnership over the last nine years bringing racing excitement to the streets of Toronto every July,” said Dave Gardner, President & CEO of Honda Canada Inc.

Gardner continued, “Our organizations share a passion for racing and the ability to support our community with the help of our charitable partners. With the support of Honda drivers and the enthusiastic race fans of Toronto, Honda is thrilled to extend our partnership for another three years.”

Honda Canada’s has a significant brand presence on site via signage on and off the race track and vehicle displays. From Honda World featuring the Junior Red Riders program to Honda SpeedZone this year showcasing the NHL® Centennial Fan Arena, its attractions have brought many interactive features to festival-goers attending the event.

“Honda Canada’s commitment has been tremendous. We have really focused the last few years on creating an experience appealing to families, and Honda has been phenomenal in helping us accomplish this ambition,” said Jeff Atkinson, President of Honda Indy Toronto. “We can’t wait to get started on planning for next year’s event with our great partners at Honda Canada on board for another three years.”

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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