Alex Tagliani has driven the Honda Indy Toronto track in the past. Though this summer, he’ll take on a new challenge on the streets of Ontario’s capital.
The Quebec native will be one of the drivers in the field for the inaugural Pinty’s Grand Prix of Toronto as the NASCAR Pinty’s Series returns to Toronto for the first time since 2011.
Tagliani noted he was thankful to Pinty’s for making it possible for the series as he notes it’s a “very important” date and “great market” for the series to have on the schedule.
Notably, this year marks Pinty’s first year as the entitlement sponsor of NASCAR in Canada, stepping up their partnership with the series which began in 2011.
“First of all, I was happy because Pinty’s is a food company and I’m representing EpiPen and food allergies; I know what it’s like to have food allergies,” Tagliani told OnPitRoad.com in a recent interview.
Tagliani knows what it takes to be successful in Toronto, having finished on the podium in an open-wheel car in Toronto in 2001 and 2006. Though despite the previous experience, he notes this year will be difference as each car requires their own driving style to get around the street circuit.
“They’re racecars, but they’re different,” he explained. “To maximize and extract everything out of NASCAR, it needs to be driven one way; to extract everything out of an IndyCar car, you can be way more effective. You can overdrive the car without penalizing your lap time or self too much, but that won’t work with a NASCAR. A NASCAR – you need to protect the lap time by not overdriving it, and being caught overdriving the car will cost you dearly. I think it’s really important to make sure that we don’t get into that situation.”
Even though there are differences, some things remain the same, such as the challenges drivers will face. As many drivers note heading into the weekend, the variety of different surfaces throughout the track make it unique. For example, turn one has a patch of asphalt entering, patch of concrete in the middle and asphalt coming off the corner.
“They’re challenging, but they’re also what makes the track really unique to drive,” he commented. “It’s really special. I think being able to extract everything out of the car makes you very proud, because it’s such a challenge. It’s probably one of the most difficult tracks to find the set-up. I always felt when you feel the car is not doing well on a specific part of the track, before you completely change the car, you have to evaluate it in two different places. You have to be careful as the last part of the track is the fastest and it’s on asphalt. Then you have a lot of the slower corners that are on concrete, where it’s super slippery so it gives you a different feel of the car.
“I think for both series, that’s the most challenging that you drive on lots of different surfaces.”