Note: The Roundtable welcomes back longtime INDYCAR communications official Arni Sribhen for his insights on the series.
Today’s question: Who will win the Honda Indy Toronto this Sunday (3 p.m. ET live, Peacock Premium and INDYCAR Radio Network)?
Curt Cavin: Given that the NTT INDYCAR SERIES hasn’t raced at Exhibition Place in three years, it is almost impossible to predict the outcome of this weekend’s race. History suggests you’d roll with the most seasoned of veterans – Scott Dixon and Will Power have three wins there, Josef Newgarden two – but this feels like a new Toronto winner. Maybe, finally, this is the weekend Alexander Rossi breaks through and finds victory lane. Rossi ran second there in 2017 and was third in 2019. He obviously enjoys this track, and he’s due.
Arni Sribhen: With his record at the remaining tracks left on the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule, you could answer “Scott Dixon” or “Will Power” to this question every week and might never be wrong. And while I considered both Dixon and Power, who each have three wins at Toronto, for my pick, another name kept surfacing along with Dixon and Power as I looked up stats for this weekend’s race. So, I’m picking that guy. And it’s the driver who won the last time the INDYCAR SERIES raced at Exhibition Place – Simon Pagenaud. Historically, Toronto is one of Pagenaud’s best tracks on the INDYCAR SERIES calendar. He’s finished on the podium five times in 11 starts – including his win there in 2019. And at a track that rewards those who start up front, his average start is 4.81. His average finish at the 1.786-mile street circuit isn’t too bad either at 8.70. Pagenaud and Meyer Shank Racing have also seemed to find their groove of late with the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda finishing in the top 10 in four of the last five races. A podium at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course showed their potential for victory. This is the week, Simon says “Pick me.”
Paul Kelly: I agree with Curt that the two-year hiatus at Toronto makes it tough to predict a winner. So much has changed since the series last ran on the streets of Exhibition Place in 2019. So, instead of telling you who I think will win, I’ll pick who I want to win – Alex Palou. First, he’s due. Palou is winless in 2022 after winning three races en route to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship in 2021. But – and you knew this was coming – how crazy would it be to see Palou in victory circle with Chip Ganassi Racing after the contractual tug-of-war that erupted between that team and McLaren Racing on Tuesday? It would be one of the more surreal and perhaps awkward victory celebrations in recent series history. Palou is one of the cheeriest guys in the INDYCAR paddock, but beneath that exterior lies a fire that can’t be underestimated. Palou tweeted Tuesday night he was committed to finishing the season strongly with Ganassi in 2022, and nothing shows strength quite like a victory. Plus, the story angles would sprout like spring dandelions if Palou won this Sunday, bringing even more attention to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Human beings love interpersonal drama, and a Palou victory would deliver that in abundance.