Toronto hosts the fifth and final street race on the IndyCar schedule. With four street races behind us, we have a pretty good sampling of who does well on these courses, and who does not. The results from St. Pete, Long Beach, and Detroit will be considered this week in the picks.
Since the 2014 race at Toronto was a double-header, the Stats Helper table is super-sized this week:
Chevrolet vs. Honda
Hondas have had the edge at the street course races this year, winning all four of them. However, at last year’s race at Toronto, Chevys finished first, second, and fourth, and swept the top five in qualifying. I’ll call it a draw.
Top Tier Picks (>$27):
Helio Castroneves made me look foolish last week at Iowa, winning the race after I put him in the Avoid category. But his average finish in the last four races at Toronto have been too good to pass on him as a Top Tier pick. He’s also had a top ten finish in all of the street course races this year, although his highest finish was only sixth at St. Pete. I’d wager that he’ll stay on a roll after his win and finish in the top five this week. Whoever sets the prices at IndyCar Fantasy Challenge must think the same, since he’s the highest priced driver this week at $32.
Will Power is a two-time winner on the streets of Toronto, taking victories last year and in 2010. The only blemish on his recent record here was qualifying for Race 1 in 2014. However, he did improve by 14 spots and finished ninth in that race. His best finish on a street course this year was third in the second Detroit race, but otherwise, he’s had dreadful results at the other street races. His early season woes are behind him, and I expect he’ll be in contention to win this round.
Mid Tier Picks (<$27 and >$20):
There’s a lot of good value in the mid tier this week. It includes the driver with the highest average finish in the past four Toronto races – Tony Kanaan. He hasn’t finished lower than sixth in that span. In his ten career starts at Toronto, he’s failed to finish in the top ten only three times. On the flip side, he hasn’t had good results on street courses this year, with a best finish of tenth at Detroit Race 2. Another top ten is a good bet based on his history here.
James Hinchcliffe has done well on the street courses this year. He qualified third and led 21 laps at St. Pete before getting shuffled back by pit stops and caution flags. He won Long Beach and finished third in Detroit Race 1, a great recovery after an early spin. He was third at his home race last year, and based on his street course performances this year, I like his chances to improve on that result.
Takuma Sato has twice finished fifth at Toronto, which were pretty good results for the A.J. Foyt team. He’s finished in the top ten in three of the four street races this year, was the pole sitter in Detroit Race 2, and was having a good run at Long Beach until he had electrical gremlins that bit most of the Andretti team that race. Sato has usually justified being in my Avoid category several times this year, but I think he’ll buck that trend this week.
Low Budget Picks (<$20):
For a guy who’s only priced at $15, Charlie Kimball has had decent results at Toronto in his career. He finished in the top ten in both of the 2014 races, sixth in 2013 Race 2, and was second in 2012. The other street races this year have been terrible for him, crashing early at St. Pete and Long Beach, but he seems to have put his early season struggles behind.
Ed Jones has no previous IndyCar races at Toronto, but he’s no stranger to the course. He raced here in Indy Lights the past two years, with a best finish of third and a worst finish of sixth. He has finished in the top ten in three of the four street races this year. He’s priced on the high end of the Low Budget tier at $20, but he’s probably the safest pick in this price range.
Drivers to Avoid or Overpriced:
It’s tough to put Simon Pagenaud in this category because he’s been a model of consistency this year, only twice finishing outside the top ten. But his worst result this year was at Detroit, and he has not finished well at Toronto in the past. He’s going to cost $31 this week, and that’s a steep price to pay for a driver whose career best finish on this course is fourth place.
Ryan Hunter-Reay won on the streets of Toronto in 2012, but in the six races since, he’s never finished in the top ten. His only top ten on the street courses this year was fourth at St. Pete. With the troubles Andretti Autosport has had this year, I doubt that this will be the year that he turns his luck around in Toronto.
Race 1 in 2014 and the 2015 race had only two caution flags, and both had average speeds just a smidge over 90 mph. Last year’s race had five caution periods for 16 laps, but the average speed was pretty close to 2015 and 2014 Race 1. There is some potential for weather to play a factor in the race this year, which makes me lean toward a lower average speed. Race 2 in 2014 was affected by rain, which lowered the average speed considerably to near 73 mph. A smart move would be to wait until race day and see how the weather might play out before submitting your final picks.