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Trackside Update: Day 2 in Toronto

7.13.13 – Good evening from what turned out to be an interesting race day on the streets of Toronto. Geared up for the first IZOD IndyCar Series standing start, the Andretti quartet took the grid in the sixth (RHR), 10th (MA), 13th (Hinch) and 14th (E.J.) positions; however, each of our drivers moved up a spot for the start due to a stalled car while leaving pit lane. To some disappointment – and relief to some maybe – the standing start was called off after the No. 67 car stalled on the grid. Twenty-four drivers took the green flag from a traditional rolling start and the first of two races this weekend was underway. The 85-lap race saw four caution periods and each Andretti driver ran inside the top 10 at some point throughout the day.

Starting from the 10th grid position, Marco Andretti jumped into fifth place after the fourth restart around the streets of Toronto. The third-generation racer remained consistent on the 11-turn circuit conserving fuel and getting the most mileage out of his tires during the 85-lap race. The 26-year-old crossed the finish line in fourth today in his Dr Pepper Chevy, and for a brief time was shown as the third-place finisher due to a post-race penalty assigned to Dario Franchitti. The penalty has been rescinded and Andretti remains in fourth.

"I just hung in there, honestly," Andretti said. "I mean, I lost my strong suit today. I could not get up on cold tires. I think that really hurt me in the second stint. Then got together with a couple of guys, Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) one of them, got shuffled way back — lost a ton of ground there. But we just kept our head down and hammered. The third stint I guess made up most of our time, stayed out of trouble.  Had some decent pace at the end of the stint, which I think is where we were making up some time. It's an attrition race, try to minimize mistakes. So that helped as well. Tomorrow I better come ready. I start 18th. Definitely got my work cut out tomorrow, but we can do the same thing tomorrow."
 

Starting from the 13th grid spot in the No. 27 Chevy, GoDaddy driver and hometown favorite James Hinchcliffe recorded his career best Indy Toronto finish today when he took the twin checkers from the eighth position; however, he will record a seventh-place finish due a post race penalty assigned to Dario Franchitti. Hinch will start tomorrow's race from 12th.

"It was a dog fight out there today," said The Mayor. "This place is so tough and this series is so competitive. To start 13th and pick up a couple spots to finish eighth in the GoDaddy car – I’m happy with that. We weren’t the quickest car out there by any means but we fought through a couple that were thrown at us. We got hit on that second to last restart, the guys were great in the pits, the strategy was good and the good news is we have another chance to try tomorrow, get the car a little better and see what we can do. Top 10, thanks to the fans for all their support, it was awesome out there today – I’m upset we couldn’t do the standing starts, I was looking forward to that but maybe another day."

Shown as high as fifth place during today's first of two races on the 1.75-mile temporary street course in Toronto, Viso fell back to 18th after two rounds of pit stops and becoming stuck behind traffic. The Venezuelan ended up bending the left rear wishbone on the No. 5 car with less than 10 laps remaining and chose the safety of the car over risking a higher finishing position; E.J. Viso finished in 14th.

Viso said, "Well it was definitely a very tough race. I think we did a very good job in the first half of the race – we had a good strategy and very good pace. Unfortunately, we had a bad (pit) stop that put us behind a pack of cars that became very difficult to pass them and stay with the front pack, and it seemed we lost everything then. The very last part of the race, I had a very slight touch in Turn 1 with (Alex) Tagliani and bent the left rear wishbone. I needed to finish the race like that, losing a few positions to save the car for tomorrow."

Defending race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay took the green flag for today's rolling start (standing start was aborted after a competitor stalled on the grid) from the sixth position and gained two spots on the opening lap to run fourth, his highest position of the day. After a couple pit lane delays and an extended stop for a new front nose in the closing laps of the race, the American was the 18th car to take the twin checkers. Despite the finish, Hunter-Reay remains second in the points fight heading into Race Two tomorrow, where he will start fourth.

"Not an ideal day," noted RHR. "We had two stalls in the pit lane and then were making some moves, making our way up on track, and then racing with E.J. (Viso) there I just got held down in the marbles on the inside and collected all that stuff on my tires. I came down into (Turn) 3 and locked up the right side. A frustrating afternoon, but I hope we can regroup overnight and improve on the car. I didn’t feel confident at all under braking today and had some issues with it. The four cars, we’ll put our heads together and hopefully come out a better team tomorrow."

For the six Andretti Autosport Mazda Road to Indy drivers, it was an up and down day. In Firestone Indy Lights, Munoz qualified P2 after a seventh-place finish during yesterday's practice session. The 21-year-old Colombian native finished in fourth place and leads the Firestone Indy Lights championship just eight points ahead of the competition.

"It was a hard race, especially in the beginning," the Colombian said. "I was pushing a lot, and there were a lot of laps where I could have had the opportunity to make up some positions. I saw a few of the cars getting close to the wall, so I slowed down a little bit to stay out of traffic. Sometimes you have to slow down, see where you're limited, and take the most out of it to keep the championship point lead."

Teammate Zach Veach's qualifying ended early when the 18-year-old sidelined the No. 12 K12 machine after an incident in Turn 1 of the 1.75-mile street circuit. Veach finished the Toronto 100 in seventh.

Veach noted, "This morning we were pushing really hard, definitely a contender for the pole position, and I think at the time, I had the second fastest lap of the session. I just made a mistake, and we got the car a little too low and that put me into the wall in Turn 1. Unfortunately, that incident took the K12 Andretti Autosport machine out of the race. I'm very thankful for Sam Schmidt and allowing me to use one of their cars. Today was just not a good day for us at all, but I cannot thank my K12 crew enough for working so hard and getting me back out on the track."

The Pro Mazda Championship duo of Matty Brabs and Shelbilly completed their day in first and sixth, respectively. Championship points leader Matthew Brabham scored his sixth consecutive win for Race One on the streets of Toronto. With tomorrow's starting positions based off of today's fastest laps during the race, the American will start Race Two on the pole position – Brabham's fourth consecutive pole.

"Just a fantastic race," an elated Brabham said. "This is Yancy (Diotalevi), my engineer's, home track so it's absolutely great to get his first win (in Toronto). It was just a great race; we've been strong all weekend. I can't complain, I mean, I've got to enjoy it while it lasts – keep up front as much as possible and keep this advantage I've got over everybody. I can't thank everyone enough. My MAZDASPEED car is just flying out there so it's been great."

Shown as high as fourth during Race One, Blackstock bottomed out on a curb and came to the twin checkers in sixth place. The Nashville native will start tomorrow's race from the fifth position.

"Unfortunately the day didn't end as we wanted it to," the 23-year-old remarked. "We started P7 and made up a position on the start. Then the next two laps we made it up to fourth, and going into Turn 5 on Lap 6 I bottomed out on a curb, and the car went around on me. Unfortunately we lost two positions and finished sixth. Looks like we'll start the race tomorrow in fifth and hopefully get up to the podium, because we had a podium car today. I want to thank the crew for all of their hard work and giving me a good car. I made an error today and tomorrow hopefully we can gain on that."

Hometown favorite Garett Grist managed to make his way up from eighth to fifth at the beginning of Race One in Toronto. Grist suffered a racing incident during a restart, breaking the nose on his front wing forcing him to pit early; the No. 7 DaVinci Foods car saw the twin checkers fly in P22. The 18-year-old from Grimbsy, Ontario will start tomorrow's race in 11th.

The area native said, "Today's race was going very well. We started eighth and managed to move our way up to fifth for the first part of the race; we were the quickest car on the track while making passes and I was catching the leaders. During the first restart, we managed to get another position. In the second restart, we unfortunately had our front wing taken off, so I had to come into the pits for a new wing. I think tomorrow we start 10th; after we broke our wing, everyone went faster so I couldn't make up any positions. I think if we had been out there longer, we would have been starting top four or five. I'm excited for tomorrow's race; there will be a lot more passing, and hopefully I can work myself into a position to win and not have to pass. I'd like to thank DaVinci Foods, Sofina Foods, Lander Property Management, Bell Helmets  and Alpine Stars for all of their support at my home race. So thankful for my Andretti Autosport crew, too – those guys work so hard and give me a great car every weekend."

Cindric, involved in a incident early on in the first of two races this weekend, was forced to retire his No. 77 Nightrain machine prior to the checkered flag. The 14-year-old USF2000 Championship rookie will start Race Two in the 24th position.

"We had a good start from the back here in Toronto during Race One," Austin said. "Just unfortunate… off the restart someone pinched us into the wall, but I guess that's street course racing. We'll go and get them tomorrow. Super thankful for Nightrain and the crew for all of their support and hard work. Looking forward to a better race tomorrow!"
 

Tune into NBC Sports Network tomorrow to catch another 85 laps from Toronto – the field of 24 goes green at 3:40 p.m. ET.

 

 

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