TORONTO — official release — Al Steinberg photo — The July 19 opening round of the Honda Indy Toronto was postponed to July 20 because of a rain-slicked 1.755-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit, creating a unique same-day doubleheader.
Two 65-lap races — a two-wide rolling start for Race 1 at 10:30 a.m. (ET) and a standing start for the 4:15 p.m. Race 2 — will be contested.
Sebastien Bourdais, driving the No. 11 Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet, earned the Verizon P1 Award for Race 1. It was his first pole since Sept. 2, 2007, at Assen, Netherlands. The Race 2 starting lineup will be determined by entrant points heading into the event weekend, which gives the Verizon P1 Award to Helio Castroneves. The driver of the No. 3 PPG Team Penske car takes a nine-point lead (he does not receive the bonus point for the pole) over teammate Will Power into Round 13 of the 18-race season.
“Obviously, we all wanted to get the race in today, but this was the correct call,” said Castroneves, who qualified third for Race 1. “We really tried to start the race but it was clear that we were going to wreck a lot of cars. The PPG Chevy is very fast so whenever we start the race we will be fine.”
The postponement creates the first same-day doubleheader since June 28, 1981, at the 1.522-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway when Rick Mears swept the Kraco Twin 125s. A Verizon IndyCar Series twinbill of shortened race distances was contested at Texas Motor Speedway on June 11, 2011. Dario Franchitti and Power were the winners of the 114-lap Firestone Twin 275.
After a 2-hour, 30-minute delay from the scheduled start, INDYCAR officials and the promoter group made the decision to wait for a more favorable weather forecast July 20.
It’s the first Verizon IndyCar Series race postponed because of inclement weather since Sao Paulo in 2011, when 15 laps were run. The remaining laps were completed the next day. The 2010 season opener in St. Petersburg, Fla., was postponed before getting the green flag to the next day. Races at Barber Motorsports Park, Houston and Iowa Speedway have been impacted by rain this season.
Race Control declared a wet start 60 minutes before the command to start engines because of persistent light rain that created puddling. The standing start was scrapped in favor of a single-file rolling start.
The 23-car field made several warm-up laps before Verizon IndyCar Series officials declared a red flag and cars returned to pit lane because of poor visibility and slippery conditions.
“They can race in the rain, but it’s once they get up to speed and the spray. You can’t see anything and it would be mayhem,” said team owner Michael Andretti, who won seven times at Toronto.