Sebastien Bourdais, Mike Conway win Honda Indy Toronto races 0
One day after cancelling the first of two Honda Indy Toronto races because of inclement weather, the Verizon IndyCar Series ran back-to-back races on Sunday with Sebastien Bourdais winning the first and Mike Conway the second.
It wasn’t however bereft of drama.
Moderate temperatures and light cloud cover provided near perfect racing conditions for the first race, but ominous darker clouds moved in and then the rain hit again, sparking a return to conditions that forced Saturday’s card to fade to black.
Conway was able to survive the resulting carnage that took out the likes of Graham Rahal, Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud and Canada’s James Hinchcliffe.
It left Conway in the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet at the front of the field being chased by Tony Kanaan in the No. 10 Target Ganassi Chevrolet, who finished second and Will Power, in the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet, who finished third, making it a podium sweep for the bow-tie boys.
A late call for dry, slick tires was the key to Conway’s win.
“It was really difficult conditions in the wet and we were kind of struggling for a bit, but as soon as I saw the path and a dry line, I knew it was time to come it,” Conway said. “It was great from there and we just kind of took off and just controlled the race.
“So, it was good fun out there.”
Power said he resisted the urge to attack Conway in the final laps for the win because he didn’t want to lose points to championship leader and Penske teammate Helio Castroneves, who finished 12th.
“I just wasn’t willing to take a big risk,” he said. “I still had to battle hard. It was a good day for the No. 12 Verizon Chevy team, typical IndyCar race where they throw everything at you.
“You just have to survive, and that is what we did.”
Kanaan said he almost threw away his second-place finish at the start.
“We chose at the beginning of the race to run a rain setup because we knew the rain was coming,” he said. “So, on the last restart, I knew that I was a little bit of a sitting duck.
“I made a really bad mistake and I got too excited (and almost got sideways). One of my typical starts, I made a mistake and I had to catch up.”
In the first race, Bourdais was back in the winner’s circle of a Verizon IndyCar Series points race in the No. 11 KVSH Racing Chevrolet for the first time in seven seasons.
Series leader Castroneves finished second with Tony Kanaan third.
Hinchcliffe finished where he started — eighth.
It was bad enough that the race was cancelled on Saturday, but Sunday’s first race wasn’t even a lap old when a huge crash involving Simon Pagenaud, Luca Filippe, Takuma Sato and Josef Newgarden brought out a red flag, halting the proceedings for more than half and hour.
It ended the race for Sato and put Pagenaud and Newgarden to the back for the restart.
Filippe, who caused the whole mess, got away scott-free, until karma caught up with him in the form of a damaged front suspension 17 laps later.
In another incident, pre-race favourite Ryan Hunter-Reay was taken out after bumping wheels with Kanaan on Lap 38.
For Bourdais, however, it was a reaffirmation that the 35-year old native of Le Mans, France, could still win at an elite level in open-wheel racing.
This is the same guy, by the way, who won four consecutive Champ Car World Series titles from 2004-07, but hadn’t won since the 2007 season finale in Mexico City. He had 31 wins in the old CART/Champ Car series but none until Sunday in IndyCar.
“It’s really sweet” he said. “It didn’t come easy.”
Bourdais said it was special that his 32nd win came at Toronto’s Exhibition Place temporary street circuit.
“It’s definitely one of the tracks where I’ve been the most consistent since my return to IndyCar,” he said. “It’s definitely a place that I’ve been putting on good, very strong performances and to be back on the top step in the way we have done it today was pretty much like the “good ol’ days.” It’s very special.”