Auto Racing (105)
The Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix is rolling into the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) in Bowmanville, Ontario this weekend for some action-packed racing. The race weekend is highlighted by the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) that features exotic prototype and GT race cars.
During the ALMS, teams compete in five different classes including P1, P2 & PC Le Mans Prototypes, and GT & GTC Grand Touring cars, where a winner is declared for each class.
To drum up some attention for the races, CTMP hosted RaceFest at Dundas Square in the heart of downtown Toronto. On display was the DeltaWing race car driven by the all-Brit team of Katherine Legge and Andy Meyrick, who were also on hand signing on autographs along with a few other race car drivers.
One of the highlights of RaceFest was a pit stop challenge involving several media members. Yours truly participated in the event and used an air gun to change tires as quick as possible. It was lots of fun interacting with the Corvette pit crew and doing something I’ve never done before. In the end, I didn’t win, but it showed the level of interactive fan excitement the ALMS can provide.
On hand was CTMP’s co-owner and highly accomplished Canadian race car driver, Ron Fellows. Fellows is looking forward to the event and has been a big part of the renovations to the facility allowing for the fans to have a bird’s eye view of the track. Throughout the weekend, fans will be able to walk around the paddock area and be up-close with the teams and drivers. “The paddock area is a work of art. Fans will get a close look at all the cars first-hand and meet with the drivers – it’s a great experience,” said Fellows.
When asked what race fans should look forward to the most, Fellows smiled and said, “Those long fast corners! They are the fastest anywhere.”
It’s not all roses for Fellows and CTMP as the Ontario stop is not a guarantee next year due to the merge of ALMS with the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series into the United SportsCar Racing series starting in 2014. Fellows gives CTMP a 50/50 chance at being on the calendar next year, but gave assurances that they’re pressing hard for it. The best thing going for the CTMP race is there high attendance numbers, to date the highest on the ALMS schedule.
If you’re an IndyCar fan, you will be happy to know that part-time Dale Coyne Racing driver Mike Conway will be in the field driving for Level 5 Motorsport subbing for the injured Ryan Briscoe. Conway will join the HPD ARX-03b P2 squad with team owner Scott Tucker and Marino Franchitti. Outside of his IndyCar schedule, Conway drives full-time in the FIA World Endurance Championship and competed in the 24 hours of Le Mans last month.
If you’re heading down to CTMP this weekend, here’s some key times to watch out for:
9:30 am - 10:30 am - Practice #1 - ALMS (All Classes)
12:00 pm - 12:45 pm - ALMS Driver Autograph Session
1:20 pm - 2:05 pm - RACE #1 - GT3 CUP
2:20 pm - 3:20 pm - Practice #2 - ALMS (All Classes)
3:30 pm - 3:45 pm - Qualifying - ALMS (GTC)
3:50 pm - 4:05 pm - Qualifying - ALMS (GT)
4:15 pm - 4:30 pm - Qualifying - ALMS (PC)
4:35 pm - 4:50 pm - Qualifying - ALMS (P1/P2)
6:05 pm - 6:50 pm - RACE #1 - GT3 CUP CANADA
9:10 am - 9:35 am - Warm Up - ALMS (All Classes)
10:00 am - 10:45 am - RACE #2 - GT3 CUP CANADA
12:00 pm - 2:45 pm - Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix Race for ALMS
3:15 pm - 4:00 pm - RACE #2 - GT3 CUP
Scott Dixon saw his chances to earn the IZOD IndyCar Championship improve drastically Sunday after completing a sweep of the Honda Indy Toronto.
It was a weekend to remember for the Target Chip Ganassi driver Dixon, who not only won both races, but received $100,000 in bonus money from IndyCar sponsor Sonax for sweeping the doubleheader. The two victories in Toronto made it three-in-a-row after winning at the Pocono IndyCar 400 last weekend catapulting him back in the driver’s championship race, only 29 points behind Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves.
By mid-race, Dixon led by 15 seconds over eventual second-place finisher Castroneves. However, a hectic final few laps saw two full-course cautions in the span of three laps drastically reduce that lead.
The race eventually ended under caution, erasing any chance Castroneves had. But the way Dixon was driving – it didn’t seem like anyone was going to catch him throughout the race as he earned pole position for the second race and never gave the lead up.
Dragon Racing’s Sébastien Bourdais earned third spot on Sunday to go along with his second place finish in the first race of the doubleheader. It was an incredible weekend for Bourdais who has struggled this season with a previous best finish of 11th. Bourdais, a former winner in Toronto back in 2004 and a former four-time driver’s champions in CART showed that experience pays off.
There was a lot of hope for a Canadian driver to capture the checkered flag going into this weekend, but it wasn’t meant to be. Oakville, ON native and Andretti Autosports’ James Hinchcliffe had a fairly good showing in Race 1 finishing in eighth place, but he fell victim to a faulty throttle at the start of Race 2 and ran four laps back for the majority of the race, eventually finishing 21st.
As for Lachenaie, QC native and Barracuda Racings’ Alex Tagliani, the Honda Indy Toronto weekend saw a continuation of a disappointing year with a 17th place finish in Race 1 and a 10th place finish in Race 2, tying his best finish for the year.
Just eight days ago, Dixon found himself in seventh place in the driver’s championship and 92 points behind Castroneves. He’s now the one that Castroneves has to watch for, as Dixon finds himself in second place leapfrogging defending champion and Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Dixon, who after Saturday’s race was sharing the seventh spot on the all-time win list with Bourdais, Paul Tracy and Dixon’s teammate Dario Franchitti, now has the spot all to himself. It also gives him the most wins among active drivers.
The all-time list includes a host of greats like A.J. Foyt, two Andrettis and three members of the Unser family, all of whom are members of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame in Indianapolis, IN.
“It feels amazing to be on that list and to be one of those names,” Dixon said after the race. “Years ago, I didn’t think I’d ever be in this position—I was just a happy kid from New Zealand, racing cars.”
With the victory also came a sense of relief for Dixon, who knows how important it is to be on your game on a two-race weekend.
“It is tough when you’ve missed a performance on a double-header weekend,” he said. “Instead of having one bad weekend, you’re really having two—we’ve seen that this weekend, the points for some of the guys have taken a big hit.”
One driver hit especially hard over the weekend was Hunter-Reay, who finished 18th in the first race and followed that up with a 19th place finish on Sunday.
A collision with Team Penske’s Will Power on the second-to-last lap punctuated a disastrous weekend that started with Hunter-Reay in second place and only 23 points behind Castroneves. Hunter-Reay now sees his championship dreams fading away sitting 69 points behind the leader and 40 behind Dixon with six races to go.
Castroneves is still the man to beat, however, and he’s ready for the challenge.
“I want [the championship] more than anybody,” he said after the race.
The next race in the IZOD IndyCar Championship goes at Mid-Ohio for the Honda Indy 200 on August 4th.
Racing victories don’t come easy and at times it takes a lot of perseverance. In Takuma Sato’s case it took 11 years and 141 Formula One and IndyCar races to finally snag a win at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. To Sato’s credit it was next to impossible to win a race for some of his Formula One teams, but now since he has a victory – he wants to taste another.
After driving for KV Racing for two years and Rahal Letterman Lanigan last year, Sato is having his best year at A.J. Foyt Racing. He almost made it back-to-back victories after Long Beach, but was passed on the last turn of the Sao Paolo Indy 300 by Canadian James Hinchcliffe. Sato was close to winning a few races last year, but he’s finally putting it altogether and seeing results for A.J. Foyt Racing.
Sato has always had a great relationship with every team he’s been on, but feels there’s a special connection between him and the A.J. Foyt team, calling it the best team relationship he’s had throughout his entire racing career. “I’m very happy with my situation and the team is so close together. We’ve really bonded to the point that at every race we know we’re going to be competitive,” explains Sato.
Sato’s victory at Long Beach and result in Sao Paolo has helped to spark more IndyCar coverage back in his native country of Japan. He had hoards of fans waiting for his arrival back home after Long Beach with many greetings and congratulations.
“It was an incredible feeling. The coverage even expanded to the morning and evening news. It didn’t matter what channel you turned on, I was there and it was cool,” said Sato.
Sato currently sits in tenth place in the IndyCar driver’s standings, but major points are up for grabs this weekend at the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader. Sato understands how crucial these next two races in Toronto are and is confident he can get some good results.
“The whole idea is to come here, have a solid two races and jump right back into the driver’s championship race. I feel it’s very important to start the second half of the season well and the results of this race will mean a lot for me to carry the momentum to the end of the season,” said Sato.
When asked whether he might have an advantage with the new standing start for the first race of the doubleheader as a former Formula One driver – Sato shrugged it off and said the hand clutch that’s used in IndyCar is totally different. However, Sato is used to the red and green light procedure and won’t be panicking. He was able to practice the standing starts today and we will soon see if he can make some moves from his 11th position on the starting grid.
To gain a more up-close and personal look into the life of Takuma Sato, here are some questions and answers that will help you get to know him better.
Born: Tokyo, Japan
Residence: Monaco and Indianapolis, IN
First street car: 1996 Honda Civic
Current cars: Acura ZDX, classic MINI Cooper and a Honda Beat w/ 656 cc
Longest road trip taken: 1,700 miles from Indianapolis to Denver
List of favourites:
Vacation spot: any Hot Spa Resort in Japan
Sports team: Japanese national soccer team
Movie: Man on Fire (2004) w/ Denzel Washington
Track: definitely Long Beach now!
Racing Memory: there has been so many great memories, but the top must be 2002 Suzuka, 1st home Grand Prix (finished 5th w/ Jordan).
Driver Growing-up: Ayrton Senna
At the age of 32, Ryan Hunter-Reay is in the prime of his racing career. After bouncing around a few teams during the start of his career in CART and IndyCar, he’s found a home at Andretti Autosport and rewarded himself and the team with a driver’s championship this past season.
It’s been a long struggle for the American-driver now residing in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, but when asked how defending IndyCar Series driver’s championship sounds to him, Hunter-Reay smiles accordingly and says “it sounds awesome.”
“That’s what I’ve been working for my entire career (which feels like my entire life), but it also comes with a certain pressure as well,” said the defending champ. “It’s a good pressure – one you can feed off of. You raise the bar and have to keep that #1 on the car, which provides a constant reminder.”
Winning the driver’s championship has brought a lot of added exposure for himself, the team and the sponsors. And Hunter-Reay has backed up his great performance last year with two more victories and a total of six podium finishes, landing him in second position in the driver’s championship behind the cagey-veteran Helio Castroneves from Team Penske.
In 2013, it’s not just Hunter-Reay that has seen his share of success – the whole Andretti Autosport team has captivated IndyCar placing themselves in the elite class of teams along with Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing. Teammates James Hinchcliffe and Marco Andretti has seen their fair share of success with Hinchcliffe winning the most races of any driver this year with three and Andretti sitting in third place in the driver’s championship with nine Top-10 finishes so far. Not only has Andretti Autosport finally bridged the gap between Penske, Ganassi and the rest, they might have surpassed those teams this year.
Hunter-Reay attributes the success to the team owner Michael Andretti and the team engineers, but also feels the driver chemistry has a lot to do with it. “The team dynamic is better than I could have expected and the guys will tell you the same thing,” said Hunter-Reay. “Everyone’s been on the same page and there are no egos standing in the way. It’s an open book between the drivers and we really see each other as teammates.”
The Honda Indy Toronto particularly excites Hunter-Reay on a professional and personal level. With the race being the second of three doubleheaders on the IndyCar calendar, he knows he can leapfrog Castroneves for first in the driver’s championship with the amount of points up for grab.
On a personal level, the Honda Indy Toronto is a homecoming of sorts. His late mother Lydia was from Hamilton, Ontario and over the years he has spent a lot of time in Canada, so it’s always one of the races he circles on the calendar.
He hasn’t performed too shabby either with two third place finishes in 2010 and 2011 and his first Toronto victory last season rounding out a stretch of wins that eventually led to winning the championship.
Even before his IndyCar days, Toronto has always been a special place for Hunter-Reay. His success started back in 2001 during his days in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. Hunter-Reay reminisced over his breakthrough in Toronto that got him recognized and helped advance his career into the Toyota Atlantic Championship.
Anything can happen in Toronto and Hunter-Reay expects a test of endurance. “It’s challenging, bumpy and the track throws you for a loop. It promotes close wheel-to-wheel racing and even some contact at times.”
What makes the first of the two Toronto races interesting is the standing start grid formation that has just been implemented a few days ago. IndyCar has long had a rolling start structure, but this should add an exciting wrinkle to the doubleheader.
Hunter-Reay doesn’t have much experience with the standing start format, but feels that all the drivers are in the same boat. He’s looking forward to the challenge of trying to control 700 horsepower on cold Firestone tires, but definitely doesn’t want to be the one that stalls. He’s going to take a conservative approach on the start and see what happens – at least that’s what he tells me.
Catch Hunter-Reay and the rest of the field starting this afternoon. Qualifying begins at 2:15 ET and the start of the first race will be at 3:40 ET on Saturday featuring the new standing start. The Honda Indy Toronto concludes on Sunday with the second race and its typical rolling start at 3:40 ET.
IndyCar officials have decided on a standing start for the first race of the Honda Indy Toronto as well as in both races for the upcoming doubleheader in Houston.
This is a big change for IndyCar who are known for their rolling starts after the pace car pits. The standing start is well known in Formula One and should be intriguing to see how IndyCar drivers adjust to this style with limited experience. Drivers like Dario Franchitti, Takuma Sato, Sebastian Bourdais and Justin Wilson with Formula One experience are well-versed in standing starts and that might be the advantage they need to get off and running.
One of the main reasons for the change in start procedures was to differentiate the two Toronto races. Personally, I think it’s a simple and smart move by IndyCar and it’s nice to see that they will be trying different things out to make it more exciting for the fans, as well as seeing whether the standing start is something that IndyCar can play with in the future.
This is not the first time we’ve seen a standing start as there were a few occasions in the IndyCar Series and during the Champ Car days where it was tested. The last time an IndyCar race had a standing start was back in 2008 at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach when Will Power took control of the race passing the first three cars leading to his first IndyCar Series victory.
Here’s how the standing start will play out on Saturday.
The safety car will lead the drivers out for a formation lap in their starting order with no overtaking. The drivers will then take their designated starting positions inside of an orange grid line. Once all the drivers have stopped in their correct positions a five-second declaration will be made via radio by the Race Director. After the five-seconds, the drivers will follow a light sequence starting when the first two rows of red lights on the lighting panel illuminate. The red lights will continue to fill from the bottom of the light panel two rows at a time, for a total of six steps (12 rows). Once all the panels are red there will be a delay between 0.5 and 3 seconds when the panel of lights will all switch to green and the drivers can start.
This minor change to the starting grid should definitely impact the race and drums up plenty of excitement and talking points for the media and fans. The Honda Indy Toronto starts on Friday with qualifying to begin at 2:15 ET and the start of the first race will begin at 2:30 ET on Saturday featuring the new standing start. The Honda Indy Toronto concludes with the second of the races on Sunday will its typical rolling start at 2:40 ET.
Ed Carpenter has seen his fair share of ups and downs throughout his 141 races in his IndyCar career that started back in 2003. He’s a survivor in a racing series that’s known for its constant turnover.
Carpenter is considered an oval specialist and he’s proven his worth recently by winning two races at the 2011 Kentucky Indy 300 and the 2012 MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships in Fontana, California. He has a history of success in Kentucky with three of his four career podium finishes being in the “Bluegrass State.” Throughout his career, Carpenter has had 35 top-ten finishes, but one of his most memorable moments was when he won pole at the 2013 Indianapolis 500, the city where he’s lived since the age of eight.
Carpenter currently sits tied for 13th position in the IndyCar driver’s standings just behind his oval-rival Dario Franchitti, who he’s had to beat on the last lap of both his IndyCar victories. His place in the standings is a tremendous accomplishment considering he owns his own one-car team (Ed Carpenter Racing) with limited resources. For the past two years, Carpenter has had Fuzzy’s Premium Vodka as his primary sponsor.
It hasn’t been easy for Carpenter on street/road courses, but he has shown improvements throughout the years. Carpenter has two more ovals left in the season, but his true test will be the stretch of six street/road courses starting with the Honda Indy Toronto double-header starting on July 13th.
To gain a more up-close and personal look into the life of Ed Carpenter, here are some questions and answers that will help you get to know him better.
Born: Paris, Illinois
Residence: Indianapolis, Indiana
First street car: 1994 Chevy Tahoe
Current car: 2013 Chevrolet Suburban
Longest road trip taken: drove from Indianapolis to Fontana, California back in 2003
Last song sung in the car: Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel”
Pets: Our Chihuahua, Rosco
List of Favourites:
Vacation spot: Lake Cumberland, Kentucky
Sports team: Butler Bulldogs Men’s Basketball team
Movie: Shooter (2007)
Race Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Racing Memory: Winning the pole at the 2013 Indy 500 and winning our first Race for Ed Carpenter Racing at Fontana in 2012 were both huge moments for me and my family.
Driver Growing-up: Al Unser Jr.
It’s hard to believe that Graham Rahal is only 24-years-old. It feels like he’s been in the IndyCar Series for a while and the answer is he has. He’s in his sixth season in IndyCar – more than many drivers have amassed in their full careers.
At the age of 19 and with a year of Champ Car racing under his belt, Rahal made his IndyCar Series debut with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing and became the youngest person to ever win a major American open wheel race at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
He spent his last few years at Chip Ganassi Racing with moments of success accumulating 13 top-ten finishes with four of them being podium spots, but that second win eluded him.
In 2013, Rahal had the opportunity to be a driver on his father Bobby’s team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and he jumped at the chance. It’s been a struggle this year, but a well-deserved fifth place finish at the Iowa Corn Indy 250 this past Sunday might lead to a string of success with half the season still to go.
As the son of the legendary Bobby Rahal, he’s been around racing for as long as he can remember and he would love nothing more to have the Rahal name once again in the winner’s circle.
To learn more about Graham, here’s our up-close and personal Q & A with the young IndyCar driver.
Born: Columbus, Ohio
Residence: Indianapolis, Indiana
First street car: Subaru WRX STI - and turned it into a race car with a Cosworth race engine
Cars he currently owns: Acura MDX, 1974 BMW 2002 Turbo, Porsche Cayenne GTS and a 1964 Mini Cooper that I restored for my high school senior project that I will never sell!
Longest road trip taken: It was two years ago after the Iowa race. We drove back to Indy which was some seven hours or so, showered and got right back in the car to head to Columbus, Ohio to pick up the boat and everything else. We got a few hours of sleep then we were in the car for 20 hours to St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada. It stunk badly. I don't know how the truck drivers do it!
Pets: I have four dogs: Deo, Dove, Dude and Dexter
List of Favourites:
Vacation spot: My mom's house in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada
Sports team: The Ohio State Buckeyes
Movies: Grown Ups and Zero Dark Thirty
Foods: sushi, pizza, or some good Mexican food
Race track: Road America
Racing memory: Winning St. Pete in 2008
Driver growing up: Bobby Rahal of course :-)
Is there a motto you live by: Everything happens for a reason
If you’re not familiar with Dale Coyne driver Justin Wilson – just look for the tallest driver on the Indycar grid standing 6’3”. It’s not just his height that makes him stand out, as Wilson is one of the more talented drivers getting the most out of his Dale Coyne race car.
Currently, Wilson sits in eighth position in the driver’s championship in an IndyCar season that’s wide open. Consistency has been key for Wilson, as he’s tasted the podium twice with two third place finishes and has landed in the top ten, six times.
The oval part of the season is soon to conclude after Iowa and Pocono that is followed by a stretch of seven road/street courses, which are Wilson’s specialty. If Wilson can stay competitive in those races, he will be in a good position for his best finish in the IndyCar series.
The road/street courses start with the Honda Indy Toronto, which will host a double header for the first time in its 27-year history. Toronto is the second of three double-headers during the year and Wilson was in Toronto to promote the race and help unveil the custom-made Waterford Crystal race trophies at William Ashley's flagship location in Yorkville.
Wilson is interested to see how the driver’s treat both races. “It’s going to be very physical. In the 1st race in Detroit the drivers hung back and went all-out in the 2nd race,” Wilson said. “It will be interesting to see what people do this time around.”
Wilson is looking forward to the Honda Indy Toronto and considers the Toronto track at Exhibition Place one that he can win.
“It’s a track that fits my style and where we can be competitive all weekend,” Wilson said.
Add in a much helpful teammate in Mike Conway, who will re-join Dale Coyne for the road/street courses and we can be seeing Dale Coyne racing up with the front runners. Conway dominated the podium in Detroit with a first and third place finish in both races. Wilson sees the benefit in a competitive teammate as they can learn from each other and test out more things with the race car that he can’t do as a lone driver.
To get to know more about the racing world and Dale Coyne’s Justin Wilson, we are introducing our new segment called Up-Close and Personal.
Team: Dale Coyne Racing (IndyCar)
Born: Sheffield, England
Residence: Longmont, CO
First street car: 1995 Peugeot 306 Diesel
Longest road trip: 18 hours from Mid-Ohio track to Florida
Favourite vacation spot: haven’t taken a vacation in 10 years. Life has been one big vacation and when you’re travelling for your profession, all I want to do is relax at home. Maybe soon I will head to the Caribbean – you never know.
Pets: none, however my mom makes up for it as she has 10 horses, cats, dogs, guinea pigs, hens – you name it. My kids love it when there.
Favourite race track: Watkins Glen – the place where I got my first win for Dale Coyne Racing.
Favourite racing memory: winning the Rolex 24 hours of Daytona driving the No. 60 for Michael Shank Racing
Favourite driver growing up: Nigel Mansell, always appreciated the talents of Ayrton Senna, but I wanted to root for the underdog.
MONTREAL, QC - The reigning three-time champion Sebastian Vettel took off comfortably from the start and never looked back. It was the ideal drive for any pole sitter as Vettel was never pressured during the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix.
The Infiniti Red Bull Racing driver finished 14.4 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Fernando Alonso of Ferrari. The win extends Vettel’s lead over Alonso in the driver’s championship to 36 points.
“I was pushing very hard at the beginning to get away and open a gap. It’s Canada, you usually go close to the walls and sometimes even closer than I wanted,” Vettel said. “I felt I had more pace at the beginning of the race…it’s good to have some time on your hands. We had a great car and always had enough pace on hand to control the gap.”
It was a very different battle for second place between Alonso and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton, who started in second, held that position for most of the race until lap 63 that saw a ferocious battle between the two rivals. Alonso got the best of Hamilton on his third passing attempt that ended with Hamilton giving the Ferrari driver a little bump that thankfully caused no incident.
“We were very close in pace. We had some action there, but it was nice to have this battle with such intelligent drivers,” Alonso said. “We fight at 300 km/h and you feel safe while you’re racing…this is real racing and I’m very happy to see this back after Monaco.”
Rounding out the top five were Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber and Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg.
Webber was involved in one of the rare incidents on track when Caterham’s rookie driver Giedo van der Garde didn’t get out of the way despite the waving blue flags to let a lead-lap driver through. Webber’s Red Bull made contact with van der Garde leading to losing a part of his front wing. Van der Garde was assessed a stop and go penalty, but Alonso took full advantage of the situation and passed Webber four laps later.
Other notable storylines in the race was Jean-Eric Vergne who steered his Toro Rosso to sixth place, his best finish of his career.
Lotus Renault’s Kimi Raikkonen might not have had his best race, but placed ninth, tying Michael Schumacher’s record of 24 consecutive races in the points. Raikkonen currently sits third in the driver’s championship with 88 points, eight points back of Alonso.
And then there was Valtteri Bottas who started on the second row in third position to only see his Williams car drift back into their average grid position, eventually ending up in 14th.
“The start of the race was not so great. I was missing some traction and the other cars were quite a lot quicker than me and it was difficult to keep up with them,” Bottas explained. “I enjoyed the qualification result for a while and really hoped we could get some points.”
Outside of the race itself, there is some concern over Montreal’s hold on the F1 calendar after its contract expires after next year’s race. The FIA has wanted to see improvements in its paddock and other areas of the track, but the federal government has been uneasy in increasing its current $15-million contribution. When it comes to Vettel’s perspective of Montreal, they all wish for it to stay on the calendar.
“In terms of atmosphere, the whole city enjoys the Formula One Grand Prix,” Vettel said. “To me this race belongs 100 percent on the calendar, because for us drivers we love seeing grandstands completely sold out and a lot of people enthusiastic about the Grand Prix.”
But the day belonged to Infiniti Red Bull and Vettel. For pure racing fans, it was a near flawless drive that showcased Vettel’s skills and the car’s dominance. Only one lack of concentration happened during the last third of the 70 lap race when Vettel missed his braking point into Turn 1 and had to cut across the grass. It cut the first to second place gap from 18 seconds to 14, but that made no difference in the end.
It was Vettel’s first win in Canada and a nice reward after being passed by Jenson Button on the last lap two years ago in a rain-delayed and soaked track. It looks like another year where Vettel might win another championship, but things can turn around very quickly in Formula One and there are plenty of races left for the likes of Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton to catch up.
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- Helio Castroneves still knows how to climb the frontstretch fence to celebrate a victory at Texas.
And welcome back to Victory Lane, Roger Penske.
Castroneves led the final 132 laps Saturday night for his and Team Penske's first victory this season, and the fourth of the driver's career at the 1 1/2-mile, high-banked track.
"Texas is awesome. I love this place," Castroneves said after celebrating by climbing up the fence as he had done in previous victories. "The car was absolutely on rails."
Still, this race was different from his victories in the past - 2004, 2006 and 2009 - at a track so often known for drivers getting to go flat-out and side-by-side just about every lap. Different setups and tires have changed that.
"Very, very different, nothing like the previous ones," Castroneves said. "Hardly went flat-out. When I took the lead, I was able to go flat-out. Other than that, the entire race was very, very difficult to go flat. ... Setup is a big part of it, and I'm very fortunate to have the great guys in my group."
Former series champion Sam Hornish Jr. was the only other three-time IndyCar winner at Texas. His last came for Penske, who now has eight victories at the track which hosted its 25th IndyCar race.
Castroneves won with an average speed of 177.257 mph and finished 4.7 seconds ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Motorsports. The combined margin of his previous three victories at Texas was 1.0038 seconds.
Hunter-Reay led 35 of 228 laps.
"The drivers had to drive it tonight," Hunter-Reay said. "I'll tell you, that was interesting. That was hard to even get by some of slower traffic. You were just searching everywhere for grip. I had so many catches out there that I thought were going into the wall. It's going to be tough to go to sleep tonight."
With six other top-10 finishes in the first seven races, Castroneves entered the night tied with Marco Andretti for the season points lead.
Andretti, who led the first 53 laps after starting on the front row, finished fifth. He dropped to second, 22 points behind Castroneves.
Castroneves took the lead from Andretti, going around him in Turn 3 on lap 96, and stayed there for his 28th career victory. He is the seventh driver to win in eight races this season.
"Running like a Swiss watch," Castroneves said. "Everything was smooth."
Before Oriol Servia spun out right in front of him on lap 113, Castroneves had built a 14-second lead over defending race winner Justin Wilson. Castroneves was able to get around Servia's car without any issue.
That ended a sequence when Castroneves went 61 laps without a stop before going into the pit during that caution.
"He drove a flawless race." Penske said. "I think Helio had probably as good of execution as we've had in a long time."
Only five drivers finished on the lead lap, and they all were in Chevrolets, with Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan third, followed by Ed Carpenter and Andretti. The highest-finishing Honda was Dario Franchitti, just ahead of Castroneves teammate Will Power, the polesitter.
While nothing obscene, a clearly frustrated Andretti motioned with his hand to Sebastien Bourdais while completing a pass less than 70 laps in at Texas.
It was a week earlier in the first race of the Detroit doubleheader that Andretti was the target when Sebastian Saavedra flashed both of his middle fingers after the two made contact on the track. That motion by Saavera was caught on live television, and earned him a $30,000 fine from IndyCar.
Bourdais was placed on probation for the rest of the season for comments made toward officials on pit road after an accident with Power in Sunday's race in Detroit. Power also was put on probation until the end of the season for throwing his gloves at Bourdais.
Andretti gave up the lead when he pitted after 53 laps. He had led only 38 laps in the first seven races, including 31 at Indianapolis last month. But he got in front for only four more laps at Texas.
Wilson started 20th, but had moved up to fifth within the first 85 laps. He finished 15th, two laps behind Castroneves.
The command for drivers to start their engines was given by Jennifer Simonds and Anna "Sam" Canaday, teachers who used their bodies to shield kindergarteners when an EF5 tornado made a direct hit on Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., on May 20.
CJ Gillaspie, captain of the West Volunteer Fire Department, which lost five members in a fertilizer plant explosion April 17, waved the green flag as the honorary starter.
Texas was the fourth of five races in a four-week span for IndyCar, which started with the Indianapolis 500 before the doubleheader weekend at Detroit. The series is in Milwaukee next Saturday before only one race the following three weeks.