CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: Pre-race notes, schedule

WHOS HOT Robert Doornbos ( ...

WHOS HOT

Robert Doornbos (#14 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) had a break through weekend in Mont-Tremblant, recording his first career win and extending his run of five podium finishes in his first six Champ Car starts. The Dutchman started his day in the fifth position and was able to handle the wet conditions leading a total of 20 laps. Doornbos is currently tied with Sebastien Bourdais for the lead in the point standings with 145 points.

Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) got his season back on track in Mont-Tremblant recording his third podium finish this season. The Australian was scheduled to start on the outside pole position, but when his car stalled Power found himself at the back of the field. Power battled his way back to the front in the ever changing conditions to finish third, keeping himself only 14 points back of Sebastien Bourdais and Robert Doornbos in the title hunt. Last year in his first start at Exhibition Place the Aussie started twelfth and finished seventh.

For the second weekend in a row Simon Pagenaud (#15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) was able to parlay his speed into his best Champ Car finish, coming back from adversity. After his car failed to start from the grid, the rookie battled his way from the back of the field to lead his first laps in Champ Car competition. After leading a total of 5 laps the young Frenchman spun in wet conditions, but was still able to salvage a fourth place finish. Last year in Atlantic competition Pagenaud started fifteenth and climbed all the way to fourth before the checkered flag flew.

Tristan Gommendy (#22 Pay By Touch-Megaspiera Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) took to Le Circuit in Mont-Tremblant on Friday winning the provisional pole position. After a rain drenched Saturday qualifying session, it was official that the rookie had earned the first pole position of his Champ Car career. On race day bad luck hit the Frenchman as his car experienced electrical problems at the start of the event, leaving him two laps down.

Being a rookie with a first year team, Ryan Dalziel (#28 PCM Coswoth/DP01/Bridgestone) may not be making front page news, but the Scotsman has gradually been making gains since the first race of the year. Currently he is the only driver in the series that has been able to finish better than he qualified in each event. Last weekend, he recorded his fourth top-ten finish this season.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

Paul Tracy (#3 INDECK Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) returns to his hometown as a two-time victor of the Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto. The Canadian has eleven top-ten starts on the streets of Toronto, along with eleven top-ten finishes. Tracy is one of five drivers that have won in Toronto leading the race from wire-to-wire (2003). This year will mark Tracy's fifteenth start at his home track.

Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) will be returning to the site of his first Champ Car victory this weekend. Last year the Brit won the pole position, led the first 10 laps of the event before finishing in the fourth position. In 2005 Wilson was the champion of the event, starting third and leading just 10 laps, but those were the ones that counted. In three starts Wilson has an average start of third in Toronto

In four starts on the streets of Toronto Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) has quite an impressive record. The Flying Frenchman has two pole positions and one victory on the course. Bourdais has also led 109 laps on the streets of Toronto which averages to about 28 laps led per event.

Last year in Champ Car Atlantic competition Graham Rahal (#2 Medi|Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) took the pole for the Toronto race. A third turn incident would take him out of competition for the win, but the rookie driver still went on to record the quickest lap of the race despite some damage to the car.

NOTEWORTHY

Champ Car teammates Will Power and Simon Pagenaud pulled off an amazing reversal of fortune when they turned a horrific beginning at Champ Car Mont-Tremblant into a stunning finish to take the lead in the first-ever Champ Car Canadian Triple Crown team showdown. After having both Team Australia cars stall on the starting grid, the duo came back to record third and fifth place finishes, earning them an average finish of 3.5. Currently they lead the duo of Sebastian Bourdais and Graham Rahal (Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing), who finished second and seventh, respectively, for a 4.5 average finish. RSPORTS teammates Justin Wilson and Alex Tagliani round out the top three on the Triple Crown leaderboard with an average of 6.5 after finishing fifth and eighth.

Even though the Grand Prix of Toronto has only been won from the pole four times in 22 years, it doesn't mean that qualifying isn't important at Exhibition place. In 16 of the 22 events the eventual winner has qualified in the front two rows.

Paul Tracy is the only Canadian driver to win in his home country, with two of those wins coming here in his hometown of Toronto (1993, 2003).

Celebrating its 22nd year on the Champ Car schedule Toronto ranks only behind Cleveland (25 years) and Long Beach (24 years) as the longest running temporary street event.

Last weekend Robert Doornbos became the 247th driver to record a Champ Car victory. Of those drivers 140 went on to record multiple wins. The last driver to record his first career win and then go on to record a second career victory in his next event, was A.J. Allmendinger in 2006 when he recorded his first career win in Portland and then went on to repeat in Cleveland.

Last year Forsythe Championship Racing recorded a one two finish in the Grand Prix of Toronto with driver A.J. Allmendinger winning followed by teammate Paul Tracy. Prior to that Forsythe's last 1-2 finish came at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2003 when Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier finished first and second respectively.

Sebastien Bourdais has scored four top-five finishes in four Toronto starts, matching Alex Zanardi and Danny Sullivan as the only drivers to earn four consecutive top-fives in their first four runs in Toronto.

DID YOU KNOW

Toronto has a rich and storied history. To begin, Toronto was named for the Huron Indian word for 'meeting place'. And for good reason -- the area was well used in this manner for centuries by people of the First Nations, and later by French traders, thanks to its naturally protected harbor. In 1788, the British purchased the land from the Mississauga Indians, and a settlement slowly grew around the waterfront area. In 1793, Lieutenant-Colonel John Graves Simcoe established a military garrison and named the town York in honor of the Duke of York of the time. It was renamed Toronto when the city was incorporated in 1834. Some nicknames for the town of Toronto include T.O. and Hogtown. According to a United Nations report, Toronto has the second-highest proportion of immigrants in the world, after Miami, Florida. Almost half of Toronto's residents were born outside of Canada. The resulting cultural diversity is reflected in the numerous ethnic neighborhoods found within the city. In 1998, Toronto and the five surrounding municipalities merged to form a new, amalgamated City of Toronto, so that Toronto's economic and cultural influence continues to extend throughout the "Golden Horseshoe" of communities wrapping around the western end of Lake Ontario.

BY THE NUMBERS

192 -- How many laps Paul Tracy has led on his hometown track. 38.100 -- The largest margin of victory in a Toronto event (1990). 13 -- How many times the driver who led the most laps around Exhibition place has gone on to win. 11 -- The highest number of caution periods to occur in a single Toronto event (2001). 7 -- The most victories any one driver has on the streets of Toronto (Michael Andretti). 6 -- The most drivers that have led on the streets of Toronto in a single event (1989 and 1998). 5 -- How many times the Grand Prix of Toronto has been led wire-to-wire by a single driver (1991, 1992, 1999, 2002 and 2003). 8 -- The furthest back any driver has qualified and won in Toronto (1990, Al Unser Jr.) 4 -- How many times the Grand Prix of Toronto has been won from the pole position. 3 -- The most pole positions any one driver has in Toronto (Emerson Fittipaldi). 0.425 -- The smallest margin of victory in a Grand Prix of Toronto (1995).

FAST FACTS

WHAT: Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto

WHERE: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

WHEN: Friday--Sunday, July 6-8

SUPPORT EVENTS: Champ Car Atlantic Championship, SCCA SPEED World Challenge, Star Mazda and Canadian Touring Car Series

CHAMP CAR SCHEDULE (All times local):

FRIDAY, JULY 6-- 9:30 - 10:45 a.m., Champ Car practice; 11:05 - 11:50 a.m., Atlantic practice; 1:15 - 2:15 p.m., Champ Car qualifying; 2:35 - 3:10 p.m., Atlantic qualifying.

SATURDAY, JULY 7 - 9:30--10:45 a.m., Champ Car practice; 11:05 - 11:50 a.m., Atlantic practice; 1:15 - 2:15 p.m., Champ Car qualifying; 2:35 - 3:10 p.m., Atlantic qualifying.

SUNDAY, JULY 8 - 8:00 - 8:15 a.m., Atlantic warmup; 9:00 - 9:30 a.m., Champ Car warmup; 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.; Atlantic race; 1:00 p.m. STEELBACK GRAND PRIX OF TORONTO

U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE (Eastern Time): SUNDAY, JULY 8 -- Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto, ESPN, 1:00 p.m. (Live).

2006 CHAMPION: A.J. Allmendinger
2006 POLESITTER: Justin Wilson

TRACK LAYOUT: 1.78-mile street course
RACE LENGTH: One hour and forty-five minutes

TRACK RECORDS: Qualifying (one lap) -- 1999, Gil de Ferran, 57.143 seconds (110.565 mph). Race -- 2000, Michael Andretti, 2:00.02.313 (98.248 mph) based on 112 laps (196.560 miles)

RACE ROUND: Round seven of sixteen in the Champ Car World Series

-credit: ccws

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Justin Wilson , Al Unser Jr. , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Alex Zanardi , Graham Rahal , Danny Sullivan , Sébastien Bourdais , Robert Doornbos , A.J. Allmendinger , Tristan Gommendy , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud