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Locks, Drops, & Sleepers: Honda Indy Toronto

Chris Estrada, Zachary Houghton, and Paul Dalbey
| Jul 05, 2012

After a quick week off, the IZOD IndyCar Series charges ahead into Toronto. This street course has seen some big incidents and a lot of movement through the field in past outings, and this year promises to be no different. To get your fantasy racing house in order ahead of this weekend, your INDYCAR Nation pundits are back, with another round of Locks, Drops, and Sleepers:

Chris Estrada, IndyRacingRevolution.com

Lock: Dario Franchitti
Franchitti’s chances of maintaining his championship reign are fading, but a fourth career win in the streets of Toronto would enable him to battle on for at least a little bit longer. His last three runs at Toronto speak loudly: Victory in 2009, a second-place finish in 2010, and another triumph last season. Despite his struggles this season, Franchitti has vowed to keep fighting – “I think if you're going to quit, you're in the wrong job,” he said in a league teleconference on Tuesday – and Toronto’s as good a place as any to show he’s still a threat to win the title.
Drop: Mike Conway
Conway has talent on street courses, but he’s had some tough luck with them this season. He claimed a ninth-place finish last month in Detroit, but gearbox problems sidelined him at both St. Petersburg and Long Beach, which was then followed by a 19th place finish in Sao Paulo. Toronto hasn’t been kind to him either, with crashes taking him out in both 2009 and 2011 after strong qualifying runs. Keeping out of trouble will be important for Conway if he wants to surprise this weekend.
Sleeper: Graham Rahal
Rahal’s collected three consecutive top-10 finishes to climb back into the top 10 in points, and Toronto’s been a good track for him lately. Last year, he was set for a podium finish until he was spun out of third place in the final laps, and in 2010, he finished fifth in Toronto after starting mid-pack in 14th position. He’ll be worth watching.

Zachary Houghton, IndyCarAdvocate.com

Lock: Ryan Hunter-Reay
In the last three years at Toronto, Hunter-Reay has finished P7, P3, and P3. No driver is currently hotter in IndyCar, and the move back to a street course shouldn’t faze RHR in the least. He’s produced good finishes this year on the twisties, and should have a competitive car again this week. If Ryan wants to really challenge Will Power for the title, it needs to start with a great finish this weekend.

Drop: Mike Conway
Conway is usually sharp on the street courses, but this Foyt team is really struggling right now. Something isn’t clicking, and until it does, Conway can’t be considered a reliable start. We know he has twisty talent, but right now Mike is anything but a safe bet. There are too many other solid options this week to even chance it.

Sleeper: Sèbastien Bourdais
Bourdais ran an extremely strong race in Toronto last year, and the course looks to be geared towards his skill set. Don’t forget he’s back in the car for Dragon this week. With being in a Lotus the first quarter of the year and splitting seat time with Katherine Legge, it might be easy to overlook the return of Seabass this week. He should be a very good start for you through the next several races.

Paul Dalbey, MoreFrontWing.com

Lock: Will Power
I know it's not really cool to take the obvious favorite, but it's nearly impossible to bet against Power.  Will is at the top of his game on these tight street courses, and nobody is better at pushing the car right to the edge than him.  If Power makes it to the end of the race and avoids the bumper car issues that have plagued this race the last couple years, his spot on the podium is almost a given, likely right in the middle.

Drop: Mike Conway
For whatever reason, the AJ Foyt Racing team just can't seem to catch a break this year.  Unfortunately, Toronto is a difficult track, and it's tough to see the team's luck turning around this weekend.  These are the tracks that usually suit Conway's style well, e.g. his win at Long Beach last season, but the team's ball is just rolling in the wrong direction.  It would be great to see the team get back in the swing of things, but don't look for it to happen this weekend.

Sleeper: Sèbastien Bourdais
The 2007 race winner, in what was the final Toronto event for Champ Car, returns to the series this weekend and should have a great chance to show his vast skills with a powerful Chevrolet engine bolted in behind him.  In terms of shear talent on street courses, Bourdais may be the only driver that can go toe-to-toe with Power, and now that they are in similar equipment, this is the battle many have been waiting for. Power may still have an edge because of his Team Penske backing, but Sebastien will be anxious to show everyone that he hasn't lost a step.


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