Hinchcliffe struggling to crack elite level

Canadian James Hinchcliffe had his streak of bad luck in Toronto continue on Sunday as he slid out during the Honda Indy Toronto, finishing 18th in a race he was feeling positive about.

Another year at the Honda Indy Toronto has come to an end and I’m still absorbing all that took place over the three-day weekend. The unpredictability of the weather and the races — along with the choices made by IndyCar and Toronto organizers — made for another memorable event. Some of those decisions were correct, others questionable.

At first, I thought that they should have attempted to start Race 1 of the double-header on Saturday, even if they had to do so under a yellow flag. However, after talking with a number of drivers and witnessing the carnage in Race 2, it certainly appears now that the decision not to race during the heavier showers on Saturday was the correct choice. What’s curious is I’ve seen IndyCars race during heavier rain showers in the past, even in Toronto. So what’s different now that we have improved technology, better tires and less horsepower? Are we just more cautious than we were decades ago? Is there a drainage issue with the track and/or do the concrete surfaces need to be examined? There are plenty of questions for everyone to ponder following this weekend.

After initially allowing cars that incurred damage during pace laps Saturday to retain their starting positions achieved in qualifying, saner heads prevailed and all three cars that made repairs during the delays started the race at the back of the field. Clearly a little more work needs to be done clarifying the IndyCar rulebook to avoid that type of confusion moving forward.

Props to IndyCar for red flagging Race 2 during track clean-up, to allow a green flag finish in what had become an even shorter race due to time constraints. If nothing else, the fans deserved it.

Hinchcliffe stalled in neutral

Wherever you went in Toronto the last week, you likely saw the image of James Hinchcliffe — or probably even the man himself! There was no busier person leading up to this event. Carrying the hopes of all Canadians, he managed an eighth-place result in the first race, then got turned around and wound up 18th in Race 2.

It’s an interesting time in the career of the Oakville, ON native. For whatever reason, he hasn’t burst through to the elite level in the series. Is it perhaps because of the regular change to his team personnel during his tenure at Andretti Autosport? Would he be better served moving to another team? The latter is a tricky question. Hinchcliffe is now closely associated with Honda, which could limit his potential moves. Do you jump from the premiere Honda-powered team if the top Chevrolet teams of Target Ganassi and Penske are not options? Not to mention, both are also fully staffed with top drivers. Maybe it’s best to stay and try to convince Craig Hampson — Hinchcliffe’s engineer last season when he was winning races — to return.

Race fans reign in Toronto

The biggest round of applause this weekend goes to the thousands of race fans that came out to Exhibition Place, braving the constantly evolving weather conditions and waiting through the delays, only to hear the heartbreaking news that it was unsafe to race on Saturday. Let’s not forget they also had to endure what may be the biggest deterrent to this event regaining more of its former glory: the horrendous Toronto traffic situation.

This past Sunday marked 28 years since the festival of speed has been a part of Toronto summers. The many volunteers and staff deserve a lot of credit for working so hard to make this event happen each year. And a special thank you to the woman who gave up her umbrella so I could stay somewhat dry in pit lane on Saturday. It’s that kind of fan and enthusiasm that makes this race one of the best events on the IndyCar schedule.

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