While it marks the 25th anniversary of the event, this is only the second year that the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series has raced on the streets of Toronto alongside the IZOD IndyCar Series and others. The temporary-street course, which is 1.755-miles in length, runs through Exhibition Grounds and along one of the best known streets in Toronto – Lakeshore Blvd.
Last year, it was Andrew Ranger taking the pole with an average speed of 80.820mph and winning the race with an average speed of 69.065mph.
Ranger is one of the strongest road course racers in NASCAR Canadian Tire Series as he has nine wins in 17 series career road course starts. Three of those wins came last year as along with Toronto, Ranger was able to win Montreal and Trois-Rivieries. Ranger will definitely be a driver to expect in the top three as in those 17 starts, he has only finished outside the top three twice – sixth at Mosoprot in 2008 and 21st at Circuit ICAR this season. The 2-time series champion also has made starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this year on the road courses so he comes in Toronto prepared.
Another driver who has ran in the Nationwide Series and has been strong on the road courses in the series is J.R. Fitzpatrick, who finished eighth in last year’s event. His road course stats rank right up there with Ranger as he has five of his six Canadian Tire Series wins have come on the road courses.
“The (Honda Indy Toronto) is definitely a big event for all of us,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s a big stage and everyone wants to put on a great show for the fans.”
So far this year, the 23-year old has legged four consecutive top-10 finishes and sits second in the standings, 48 points behind Scott Steckly.
Steckly is more of an oval racer, though hasn’t done that bad this year as he finished second and fifth in the two road-course races this year.
“It’s a very important race for us,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of cars at Toronto so we definitely don’t want to get a DNF. The road courses attract a lot of cars so we need a good solid finish here at Toronto. We definitely are going to try for a very first road course win. It’s definitely very important for our sponsors to be in Toronto racing at the Indy so we’re looking for great things this weekend.”
Last year, the 2008 series champion finished 11th in Toronto, though will be looking for his 10th series victory after scoring the win in the season opener at Mosport.
A lot of eyes, though, will be on Robin Buck as the road course instructor scored his first series victory on June 5th at Circuit ICAR and finished third in the June 26th event at Mosport.
The Streets of Toronto 100 will see a series-high count so far this year of 36 cars with a mix of series veterans, road course veterans and rookies. With the Toronto track being a challenging course, it’ll be crucial to survive first to win, but watch out for plenty of action. Practice and qualifying is set to be held on July 8th with the race on July 9th. The race will be aired on TSN on July 17th at 5p.m. EST.