Today’s Verizon IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
1. Kanaan knocking on door of first win with Ganassi
2. Inside the Box Score: Honda Indy Toronto 2 in T.O. doubleheader
3. Hawksworth, Montoya headline Indy 500 starters entered in Brickyard weekend events
1. Kanaan knocking on door of first win with Ganassi: Tony Kanaan has celebrated podium finishes for the last three Verizon IndyCar Series races, and the 2004 series champion sees that momentum as a conduit to being the focus of the celebration in the near future.
The first-year Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver earned third- and second-place finishes in the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on July 19-20, which followed a strong performance at Iowa Speedway a week earlier that netted third place.
The streak, after an uneven start to the 18-race season, has contributed to Kanaan moving from 11th in the championship standings to eighth entering the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. He’s seven points behind teammate and three-time Mid-Ohio race winner Scott Dixon for sixth.
The 90-lap race on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course Aug. 3 starts a stretch of four events in five weeks to close the exciting season that has included nine different winners representing six teams and 10 different Verizon P1 Award winners.
At Toronto, Sebastien Bourdais, driving the No. 11 Hydroxycut KVSH Racing car, earned his first victory since Nov. 11, 2007, at Mexico City in Race 1. Mike Conway, driving the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka car for Ed Carpenter Racing, followed with a 3.5418-second victory over Kanaan in Race 2.
Neither Kanaan nor Dixon, the reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion who swept the Toronto doubleheader in 2013, has stood on the top step of the podium this season. Dixon finished fifth and ninth in the races on the 1.755-mile, 11-turn street course at Exhibition Place. The recent results have been encouraging.
“It was a great weekend for us, great weekend for Chevy, getting on the podium twice in Toronto. So we’re gaining momentum; hopefully the win will come soon,” Kanaan said.
The transition from KVSH Racing, with which he won the 2013 Indianapolis 500, to the four-car Chip Ganassi Racing outfit – which included taking over the seat of the No. 10 car from recently retired four-time series champion and longtime friend Dario Franchitti – was more pronounced than anyone expected. It has been a seven-month process, Kanaan noted.
“I had a big responsibility at the beginning of the year replacing Dario,” Kanaan said. “That team was built around him. It was unexpected, his retirement, so it takes time. Takes time to get to know people, takes time to get the chemistry together. You have an engineer like Chris (Simmons), who worked with Dario for the past seven years, like I had Eric (Cowdin) for the past 12. It’s taking time.
“The team was struggling. We found different things. I’m not going to say it ‘clicked’ but all those things together made it a big improvement. I feel much more confident and more comfortable with the team, working with Chris and those things take time.
“Unfortunately, time is not what we have the luxury to have in racing. So, hopefully we can keep the momentum up and finish the season strong.”
2. Inside the Box Score: Honda Indy Toronto 2 in T.O. doubleheader: Numbers to note from the Honda Indy Toronto 2 in T.O., the 13th and 14th races of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
1.18 – Average running position of winner Sebastien Bourdais during the 65 laps of racing in Race 1.
3 – Consecutive podium finishes by Tony Kanaan…Wins for Ed Carpenter Racing in 2014.
9 – Positions gained by Jack Hawksworth in the final six laps (15th to sixth) of Race 2.
10.25 – Average running position of winner Mike Conway during the 65 laps of racing in Race 1.
23 – Positions improved by Charlie Kimball in the double header races (18th to seventh in Race 1 and 16th to fourth in Race 2).
27 – Laps that Mike Conway and Carlos Huertas improved their positions during the doubleheader, most of any driver.
32 – Career Indy car victories by Sebastien Bourdais, which placed him second in career wins among active drivers and eighth all-time.
81 – Career top-three finishes for Helio Castroneves, which tied Bobby Rahal for eighth on the all-time list.
116 – Career top-five finishes for Kanaan, which broke a tie with Scott Dixon for ninth on the all-time list.
147 – Consecutive starts for Marco Andretti, giving him sole possession on eighth on the all-time list.
229 – Consecutive starts by Kanaan dating to the 2001 CART race in Portland. Kanaan extended his all-time record.
3. Hawksworth, Montoya headline Indy 500 starters entered in Brickyard weekend events: Four drivers who competed in the Indianapolis 500 in May will be on the grid for the Brickyard Grand Prix, the Tudor United Sports Car Series event on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course.
Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Jack Hawksworth, who started on the front row for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis will contest the PC Class Race with Rocketsports. Martin Plowman, who raced for A.J. Foyt Racing in both the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and Indianapolis 500, will compete in the same class with BAR1 Racing. Townsend Bell and James Davison also return to race at IMS in the GT Daytona Class.
“Really looking forward to this weekend with RSR Racing, and looking forward to working with the whole team,” Hawksworth said. “I enjoy the circuit a lot and am looking forward to a really great weekend.”
In all, six drivers who contested the Indianapolis 500 will race during Kroger Super weekend. 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya and 2014 Indianapolis 500 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Kurt Busch are slated to compete in the Crown Royal presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard presented by Big Machine Records.