IndyCar Toronto start times: The wakeup call came when a jet-lagged Christian Lundgaard awoke in his room at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis last August.
Weighing whether to join the IndyCar Series full time, Lundgaard was watching the inaugural Music City Grand Prix through the streets of downtown Nashville, Tennessee, when Marcus Ericsson’s car suddenly went airborne on Lap 5.
Lundgaard, who had flown overnight from Europe (where he was racing in the F2 Series), drifted to sleep until after the checkered flag – when the sight of the victory celebration had the Dane rubbing his eyes.
Marcus Ericsson had won at Nashville?
“I was like no way, something must be wrong,” Lundgaard recently told NBC Sports. “This just proves that this series is so competitive, but at the same time, anything can happen.
“That made me even more motivated because I knew anything could happen, no matter where I started. I came in with zero expectations. Just learn, enjoy and have fun.”
Six days later, Lundgaard reaffirmed that mantra in his IndyCar debut with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, qualifying fourth and finishing 12th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Nine races into his rookie IndyCar season, Lundgaard has enjoyed mixed results while awaiting his Ericsson-type moment to arrive. He is 17th in the points standings (but tops among this year’s five full-time freshmen drivers) with a season-best (and rain-soaked) ninth at the IMS road course (also the only track where he advanced past the first round of qualifying).
But though his No. 30 Dallara-Honda has placed consistently between ninth and 11th, he still believes he could breakthrough in the second half – perhaps Sunday on the streets of Toronto (3 p.m. ET, exclusively on Peacock Premium).
“We’ve had our moments,” said Lundgaard, who will be sporting new primary sponsorship from HUB International Limited (he is one of 13 drivers in the field insured by the company. “We’ve had those weekends we’ve been competitive. At the same time, I don’t think we’ve had everything pan our way. I think the results are still to come. There will be weekends this year we’ll be stronger for sure.
“It’s a long race, and anything can happen. If everything pans out your way, you can finish wherever.”
The latest example was Will Power, who finished third July 3 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after spinning into last place on the first lap while trying to pass Lundgaard for 18th.
The Honda Indy Toronto could be more of an equalizer.
This will mark the first race weekend at the layout around Exhibition Place since 2019 for IndyCar, which has added the aeroscreen since its previous visit. It’ll be the first IndyCar start on the circuit for 12 of the 25 drivers in the field. That includes Lundgaard, who plans to stay for two days after the race to explore Toronto during his first visit to Canada.
He has been preparing on the simulator for the 11-turn, 1.786-mile street course and also got some tips from friend Christian Rasmussen, another Denmark native who races in Indy Lights.
“The track is quite special and seems very interesting,” said Lundgaard, who will turn 21 on July 23. “It’s tough and seems a lot longer than it is. The lap goes by very quickly.
“But it seems like an event that everyone likes. So I’m looking forward to going there and racing.”
Lundgaard is ranked between teammates Graham Rahal (15th) and Jack Harvey (20th) as Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has struggled for the balance between handling and speed this season.
“I think there’s a difference between a car that drives nice and isn’t fast enough,” Lundgaard said. “And a car that’s very tricky to drive and very fast. We’re in a mix between those. Difficult to drive and not necessarily the fastest. I go into each track with the mentality of needing to learn, do my best and know what I need from the first lap running.
“I’ve driven so many cars, I know personally what I want from the car and what I need to drive fast. At the moment, we’re struggling with the performance of the car. It isn’t in the window. We can do a lot and not get the biggest reward from it, but we’re working as a team. We’re covering a lot of stuff. Now that we have three cars, we can cover a lot more to improve our performance. At the moment, it doesn’t seem to go the right way in big enough steps.”
What a MAD race, this one had it all! 🤯
From P8 on the grid to crashing and falling back to last place (and a lap down) to come home in 9th (with 6 pit-stops). Horrible conditions for the last few laps, no visibility at all, pure survival out there. pic.twitter.com/CtSpETEfcT
— Christian Lundgaard (@lundgaardoff) May 15, 2022
With a week to regroup after Mid-Ohio, Lundgaard said “you’ll see a stronger team” from RLL in the second half as Toronto kicks off a stretch of four consecutive race weekends (including a doubleheader at Iowa Speedway).
“Everyone is going to find some key components that will benefit them the rest of the season,” he said. “The importance for us is to find bigger performance gains that we can use the second half of the season. I have so much knowledge about the car I didn’t have before. It’s all about the drivers helping the engineers to point them in a direction which way to go. I think looking at the first race to where we are now, I wouldn’t say we’ve gone the wrong direction.
“We’ve gone a bit up and down. We’ve hit it some events better than others. But I like we went to Sebring and found some good stuff (at a test) last week that we’ll use at Toronto. I’m not too worried about there at all.”
Here are the details and IndyCar start times for the Honda Indy Toronto (all times are ET):
HONDA INDY TORONTO INDYCAR START TIMES
TV: Sunday, 3 p.m. ET on Peacock Premium. The first exclusive IndyCar race on Peacock will feature less than five minutes of commercial interruption throughout the race coverage. (Click here for information on how to sign up for Peacock.)
Kevin Lee is the announcer with analysts Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe. Dave Burns and Dillon Welch are the pit reporters. Click here for the full NBC Sports schedule for IndyCar in 2022. SportsNet 360 will carry the race broadcast in Canada.
Peacock Premium also will be the streaming broadcast for both practices and qualifying. INDYCAR Live! also will be streaming practices and qualifying for international viewers in selected markets.
COMMAND TO START ENGINES: 3:23 p.m. ET
GREEN FLAG: 3:30 p.m. ET
PRACTICE: Friday, 2:30 p.m. (Peacock Premium); Saturday, 10 a.m. (Peacock Premium); Sunday, 10:55 a.m. (Peacock Premium)
QUALIFYING: Saturday, 2 p.m. (Peacock Premium)
STARTING LINEUP: Click here for how the 25 cars in the field will line up at Toronto
RACE DISTANCE: The race is 85 laps (151.81 miles) on an 11-turn, 1.786-mile street course around Toronto’s Exhibition Place.
TIRE ALLOTMENT: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate for use during the race weekend. One additional set of primary tires may be used by teams fielding a rookie driver. Teams must use one set of primary and one set of new (sticker) alternate tires for at least two laps in the race.
PUSH TO PASS: Two hundred seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation. The push-to-pass is not available on the initial start or any restart unless it occurs in the final two laps or three minutes of a timed race. The feature increases the power of the engine by approximately 60 horsepower. Indy Lights: 150 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 15 seconds per activation.
FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 77 degrees with a 32% chance of rain at the green flag.
HONDA INDY TORONTO WEEKEND SCHEDULE
(All times are Eastern)
Friday, July 15
8 a.m.: USF2000 practice
8:45 a.m.: Indy Pro 2000 practice
9:25 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice
10:15 a.m.: NASCAR Pinty’s Series practice and qualifying
11:50 a.m.: Sports Car Championship Canada practice
12:35 p.m.: USF2000 qualifying, Race 1
1:10 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice
1:55 p.m.: Indy Pro 2000 qualifying, Race 1
2:30 p.m.: NTT IndyCar practice (Peacock Premium)
4 p.m.: NASCAR Pinty’s Series race
Saturday, July 16
8 a.m.: USF2000 qualifying, Race 2
8:35 a.m.: Indy Pro 2000 qualifying, Race 2
9:10 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying, Race 1
10 a.m.: IndyCar practice (Peacock Premium)
11:15 a.m.: Sports Car Championship Canada qualifying
2 p.m.: IndyCar qualifying (Peacock Premium)
3:30 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 1
4:30 p.m.: Sports Car Championship Canada, Race 1
Sunday, July 17
9:45 a.m.: USF2000, Race 2
10:55 a.m.: IndyCar practice (Peacock Premium)
11:40 a.m.: Indy Pro 2000, Race 2
12:35 p.m.: Sports Car Championship Canada, Race 2
1:30 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 2
2:40 p.m.: IndyCar driver introductions
3:30 p.m.: Honda Indy Toronto, 85 laps/151.81 miles (Peacock Premium/SportsNet 360)