Defending Toronto winner Josef Newgarden. Photo: IndyCar

IndyCar: What drivers are saying about Honda Indy Toronto

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Here’s What Drivers Are Saying about this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto INDYCAR race north of the border:

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “Toronto is always a race I look forward to. It’s such a fun city with a lot for everyone traveling with the series to do and the racing is great. It can be challenging but always exciting. The new car is going to be fast there and I think that’s going to make it really fun. Strategy will be really important here as with any road or street course, so that’s something I know a lot of teams are really thinking about. The No. 1 Hitachi Chevy is going to be all dialed in and I know myself and my crew are really working to win there again.”

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I’m excited to be racing at Toronto again, it’s a pretty cool track. It’s a street course which are tracks that I love, so we’ll try to have a great car so we can finish up front. The city is a pretty cool place in itself. I’ve only been there once, which was last year when I raced Indy Lights. It was good fun and I had a great time so I’m looking forward to going back.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): “It’s been pretty nonstop since the win in Iowa, but the momentum we have is hopefully going to carry over into the race this weekend in Toronto. It’s always so special to be able to race in front of my hometown, and I’m really looking forward to sharing that with Robbie (Wickens). The support coming home is always so incredible. The Arrow Electronics crew have been working really hard all year, and after the win, we are all hungrier than ever.”

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): “I can’t express enough how excited I am to race the Lucas Oil car in front of my hometown in Toronto. The team is coming off a great result in Iowa with both cars in the top five and James’ (Hinchcliffe) win. It’s already been a crazy week here, and the rest of the week is going to be so much fun. I can’t wait to get my helmet on and get on with practice because it’s a track I’ve always wanted to drive an Indy car on. It’s a bucket list item of mine to race as a professional driver in front of my hometown, so I’m really looking forward to checking that off the list.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I don’t think we really had the weekend we wanted to in Iowa after having a string of five or so podiums over the last six races. We stayed with it as best we could, though, in the PNC Bank car and had a reasonable points day with some of the other top point contenders having issues in the race. So, it’s on to Toronto where we’ve had some success in the past. It’s a great city that I know we all love coming to, and I hope it’s a good show Sunday and a good performance for the No. 9 team.”

ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “We’re really looking forward to Toronto this weekend. We were very strong at the last two street circuit races in Detroit, and I hope we can continue that on Sunday. I’ll be hoping to keep up that run of strong results going for the team. We had a rough go of it last weekend in Iowa and will be pushing hard to turn that around in the NTT DATA car this weekend.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m really looking forward to going to Toronto. I’ve won there three times, so I know myself and the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet team feel strong there. I know it’s been resurfaced so it’s always a fun track. It’s going to be very tough with there being so many good cars now. I think it’s going to be good with the new car. The racing at Iowa was phenomenal. There were so many passes. It was amazing. It’s going to be really exciting for the fans there to watch and will be fun for all us racing there.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Toronto is always a fun track to go to – it’s a really fast street course. I love the venue, it’s one of the most fun races of the year. I know we have a good street course car so I’m looking forward to maybe getting a podium for A.J. (Foyt) and cheer him up a bit. The fans in Toronto support INDYCAR big time there, and the city’s a lot of fun. We always take the kids. There are a lot of things to do and a lot of great places to go to dinner. We go to the aquarium all the time – they have a beautiful one downtown. Usually, we go on Saturdays because we finish up early at the track. We take the kids there and to the CN Tower. Toronto is definitely a fun place to go and not just to race but also because you can take your family and have fun, too.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Rousseau Honda): “It looked like we were going to have a good race last year after starting second. The Rousseau Metal car was solid. We just got really hosed by a yellow that basically put Helio (Castroneves), (Simon) Pagenaud and myself to the back and we were the lead three, so obviously that ruined our day. The car was pretty good though, there were no major complaints. Were we good enough to beat Helio or Pagenaud on that day if we didn’t get hosed by that yellow? I don’t know, but we were certainly a podium contender so it was disappointing not to make it all happen. I’m excited to go back. If I look at our street course performances so far, it’s our strongest package. Hopefully, we can just make it happen. Right now, we need to get a win and need to get some points. Toronto is an iconic event in our sport. There is always great crowd support. Nowadays with Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) and with Robbie (Wickens), I fully expect there to be a ruckus crowd as usual. Hopefully, we can go up there and try to spoil their dreams.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team Mouser Electronics/Molex Honda): “I like the Toronto race. The fans and the atmosphere are really great. The circuit is fun and, other than my first year, my results have been consistently good. Hopefully, we can collect another win there this weekend for our sponsors Mouser Electronics and Molex.”

ZACHARY CLAMAN DE MELO (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): “I’m extremely excited to go to Toronto. I have a lot of friends and family there that will be watching, so it’s a really special race for me. I love the track and I think it should be a fun race. I got a double podium in Toronto last year in Indy Lights, so hopefully I can be strong there again and get a really good result for the team in front of my friends and family.”

JORDAN KING (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “I haven’t been to Canada in a very long time so I am actually quite looking forward to going to Toronto. I’ve got some good support from my family coming over, so that will be nice. I’ve been on the simulator but it’s really difficult to say what the track will be like until I get in the car. It seems quite tight and twisty and seems very bumpy, but I’ve also been told it’s been resurfaced in a couple of areas. Learning the circuit as a whole might be a bit easier just because it’s a short one, but it seems to be a very nice track. It will be quite tough to learn all of the small characteristics, where the bumps are, how much curb you can use, how close you can get to the walls. It will be an interesting challenge!”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Chevrolet): “Toronto is always a great event. I really enjoy both the city and the track. It’s one of the most challenging street courses that we go to. It’s very unique in the amount of surface changes we encounter during a lap. In some cases, you drive over three different surfaces in one corner, so it’s difficult to find a setup that is compliant around the entire circuit. I’m also excited to be back in the blue Preferred Freezer Services car this weekend. Ed Carpenter Racing and I have both had success at Toronto in the past, so we are all really looking forward to this event.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): “Toronto is a great track and a great city. I really enjoy going there. It’s on Bastille Day, which is independence day for France. It’s always an interesting weekend with the French touch there. I’m excited. We’ve performed well in the past at Toronto but haven’t had the best luck recently, but we’re ready to turn it around this year for the No. 22 DXC Technology Chevrolet and perform stronger. I think the fans are going to be interested in seeing the new cars there. They’re very sexy and good-looking. I think the show is going to be even better than it used to be. It’s going to be a lot faster down the straightaway and there’s going to be a lot more sliding around. It’s going to be all good for the show.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Novo Nordisk Chevrolet): “I’m really looking forward to going back to Toronto this weekend. I’ve had some good memories there – my first podium finish and a few strong runs. I’ve read about the road repavement improvements, so it will be interesting to see how it has changed since last year once we take our first laps. With the Diabetes Canada livery on the No. 23 in Toronto, we’ll have both Carlin cars in blue and white, so hopefully we’ll see those colors out front on Sunday.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Relay Group 1001 Honda): “I’ve gone to Toronto for five or six years – and every time I do, I say I’ll end up living there. I love the city, I love the track, I love the people. The whole atmosphere is something that, I think, all of us look forward to every year. Everywhere I’ve gone in an Indy car, it’s been amazing how small the tracks have felt. You go from an Indy Lights car to an Indy car and it just makes the track feel smaller, so it will be cool to see how Toronto feels. I heard they repaved the front straight, so hopefully, it will make for some really good racing.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “I’m super excited to get to Toronto – that was kind of the start to our strong end last year and we’ve been really good on street tracks this year. It’s the last street course on the calendar, and we’re doing our best to capitalize on our performance there and cut down the gap to the leader in the championship. It’s so important to stay consistent at this point in the season with points. You just have to try to maximize the good days and minimize the bad days.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “We just need to not have issues in Toronto and have a strong result after our race in Iowa. We’ve won there in the past and hopefully, we can get it again and get a good drive forward going in the points. We need to rack up a couple of wins and close the points gap. Right now, every point counts and that’s what we’re focused on.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): “I’m very excited to go back to the Honda Indy Toronto. We think we have a good car for a street course and it’s the final street course of the season, so I really want to have a strong race and I think we can. We have good momentum right now so I hope we can continue in Toronto. Toronto is a challenging track. It’s probably one of the bumpiest tracks of the season and is also challenging because the track surface changes multiple times in one corner, from asphalt to concrete. On the engineering side and the driver’s side, it’s always very challenging because no matter what setup you apply, the cars go all over the place. However, it’s a good track. There is a long straight followed by heavy braking which gives the drivers opportunity for overtaking and make the race exciting for the drivers and the spectators. The weather usually is great but it can be sketchy, which adds another factor and another reason why the Toronto race is always exciting. Toronto is great. It’s a metropolitan city but there are a lot of Japanese communities there as well and Honda Canada makes a huge commitment for the race, so we always have great support from them, too. I love Toronto. There are great restaurants, a great downtown area and enthusiastic fans which make the Honda Indy a great venue for the IndyCar Series. I’m looking forward to it.”

RENE BINDER (No. 32 Binderholz tiptop timber Chevrolet): “This will be my first time in Toronto and from what I have heard it is a pretty nice place to visit. Some drivers say this is one of the most exciting tracks on the INDYCAR schedule. We completed some laps on the Chevrolet race simulator two weeks ago, and we also invested some time in molding my steering wheel, so hopefully, we will be as prepared as possible. Looking back at my first three event weekends in the Verizon IndyCar Series, I have learned a lot. Even though there is a huge lack of experience and track time, my lap times have been competitive at times. Our goal is to have a trouble-free weekend, figure out a great setup with the engineers and to pick up some more championship points for the No. 32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet/Dallara.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): “I’m looking forward to going to another country next weekend – it’ll be nice to stir things up a bit. Toronto is a great city and, with parts of the track being resurfaced since last year, it’ll be a bit less bumpy than the last time we were there. Hopefully, we can improve on our Detroit pace, which was actually quite quick, and grab a top-10 finish for the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet.”

CONOR DALY (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): “Obviously, I’m excited to be back in a Chevy-powered Indy car again. I have to thank the Harding Racing team for trusting me with the driving responsibilities this weekend at a track I’ve always loved over the years. It’ll be a new experience for me with this year’s road course aero package, but I intend to give the best feedback I can to the team so we can fine-tune the car for a great race on Sunday.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 Oberto Circle K / Curb Honda): “I’m hoping that going into Toronto, we can build on Detroit. That was a strong weekend for us. Pace is what we need, and I think we have that on the streets. It’s a fun track and the fans are passionate, so we’ll be looking forward to a good weekend.”

Twin sisters chosen for Lincoln Tech-Schmidt Peterson Mentorship Program

Photo courtesy of Lincoln Tech
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Lincoln Tech and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced a continuation of their long-time partnership earlier this year, and part of that partnership included a return of their mentorship program, which sees Lincoln Tech students join SPM’s team during select race weekends.

The ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway will add a new and interesting chapter to that program as the students selected happen to be twin sisters.

Jacqueline and Nathalie Mische, who are studying Automotive Technology at Lincoln Tech’s East Windsor, CT campus, will be part of James Hinchcliffe’s No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda team during the Pocono weekend.

Jacqueline and Nathalie Mische will be part of James Hinchcliffe’s team at Pocono. Photo: IndyCar

What’s even more interesting is that Jacqueline and Nathalie previously worked in a hair salon as after graduating from beauty school. They explained that one of their Lincoln Tech instructors, Kristopher Fluckiger, put the idea of pursuing a career in the racing field in their heads.

“He was a Lincoln Tech graduate, and then he was actually a racer,” Natalie and Jacqueline said of Mr. Fluckiger in a video release by Lincoln Tech detailing their story. “When we had him for steering and suspension, he always told us about stagger and race cars. He integrated racing into everything he was teaching us.”

And the young women feel both humbled and surprised by the opportunity at hand.

“It’s still so surreal. When everyone told us that we got chosen – to be able to go, we feel honored that we get that opportunity,” Natalie revealed.

Jacqueline added, “Especially two of us from one campus, we kind of didn’t think we could (both get nominated).”

Kevin Clark, Director of Education at the East Windsor campus, spoke very highly of the Mische sisters and feels that they both earned the opportunity.

“(They) are truly deserving of this honor – being selected for the SPM Mentor program,” said Clark. “They are outstanding students with exceptional GPAs and near-perfect attendance. They are always upbeat, positive, and smiling while actively engaged in their education and helping others.”

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