TORONTO — It’s been 13 years since a Canadian has been atop the podium at the Honda Indy Toronto, and race president Jeff Atkinson thinks it’s about time that cold streak came to an end.
The last time a Canadian driver won the event on the streets surrounding Exhibition Place was in 2003, when Toronto native Paul Tracy captured the checkered flag. Tracy, whose IndyCar career spanned over two decades, also won the event in 1993.
James Hinchcliffe holds Canada’s best chance at a victory this weekend at the Indy Toronto. The Oakville, Ont., native has five top 10 finishes so far this year and is searching for his first victory of the season on his hometown track.
“I think it would be very exciting for us,” Atkinson said on Thursday. “We were lucky enough to have Paul Tracy win twice on this race track. And I hate to say we’re overdue, but we’re overdue. And it would be nice to celebrate a Hinchcliffe win.”
Hinchcliffe didn’t compete in last year’s race due to injury and finished eighth in the first race of the 2014 event before placing 18th in the second leg of the double-header.
“I mean, short of winning the (Indianapolis) 500, this is as exciting as it gets for me to bring home a victory here,” Hinchcliffe said in an interview with The Canadian Press on Wednesday.
“We’ve done it on street courses before in St. Pete and Brazil so we know how to do it. It’s just a matter of getting all the pieces to fall into place. It will be a big celebration in Hinchtown if that happens.”
Despite Atkinson’s desire for the Canadian winner drought to end, he understands it won’t be easy.
“Although we would love to have James Hinchcliffe win, it is a very difficult circuit to compete on and obviously be the champion on.”