Jul 8, 2012
TORONTO -- Following his final service stop with 30 laps remaining in the Honda Indy Toronto, Ryan Hunter-Reay was enjoying his Sunday drive on the Exhibition Place street circuit.
Hunter-Reay, in the No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car, inherited the lead on Lap 57 when JR Hildebrand pitted and upped his margin over Tony Kanaan from .6040 of a second to 4.0794 seconds in the matter of five laps on the 1.75-mile, 11-turn course.
Charlie Kimball replaced Kanaan as the protagonist on Lap 72, but the challenger didn't matter. Hunter-Reay pulled away by 7.6 seconds with 10 laps left and -- staying ahead of restart pileups in Turns 1 and 3 with three laps left -- went on to his third consecutive victory.
Click it: Honda Indy Toronto box score
Hunter-Reay crossed the start-finish line under caution, with Kimball securing a career-best runner-up finish and Mike Conway coming from the 11th starting spot to place a season-high third (the first podium for A.J. Foyt Racing since Brazil in 2010). Tony Kanaan finished fourth and Oriol Servia was fifth.
Hunter-Reay, who entered the race three points behind front-runner Will Power in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings, heads to the Edmonton Indy with a 34-point lead as Power's No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car finished 15th (contact with the car driven by Josef Newgarden on Lap 56). Helio Castroneves, who finished sixth, overtook Scott Dixon (out early with an engine issue) for third (46 points back).
Ten different teams are represented in the top 10 of the standings.
"Toronto is one of my favorite races, so this is a special one for sure," said Hunter-Reay, who joined Power as winners of three in a row this season. "(For the championship) We're just concentrating on doing well, doing what we've been doing. We've been good on street circuits in the past. It's nice to go from the ovals to a street course and be able to win on both. It shows that this team is capable of a lot.
"Certainly we're on a streak, but I see it more that we're reaching our capability in what we can do. I certainly hope there's a lot more to come."
AJ Allmendinger in 2006 was the last American driver to win three consecutive races and Sam Hornish Jr. -- also in '06 -- was the last American to lead in points when he won the championship in 2006.
Though the racing was as rough and tumble as usual on the tight course, there was a lone full-course caution through the initial 78 laps. The second was called by Race Control for Newgarden's stalled car that had slid into the Turn 3 tires (he was running fourth at the time, and the incident cost Simon Pagenaud a block penalty).
Kimball, Sebastien Bourdais, Servia, Conway, Castroneves and JR Hildebrand followed Hunter-Reay through two caution laps. On the Lap 82 restart, Kimball and Bourdais made light contact dueling for second -- with Bourdais sliding into the Turn 1 tires to miss out on a potential podium finish -- and more contact followed in Turn 3 involving the cars of Dario Franchitti, Ryan Briscoe, Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter and Pagenaud.
Conway, who was able to slide into third, was told that team owner A.J. Foyt wouldn't make a Victory Circle appearance until he won.
"He wants to win as much as everyone else," Conway said. "That just makes me want to win even more. I mean, this podium is for A.J. today. Happy to get this result. Obviously, we want to win and he does as well."