- Associated Press - Saturday, July 7, 2012

TORONTO (AP) - IndyCar driver Sebastien Bourdais is staying upbeat for someone whose year began with what he calls “a winter of hell,” then got worse.

“It’s interesting sometimes to put yourself in positions where you’re really kind of struggling,” Bourdais said, starting to laugh shortly after arriving in Toronto this week to prepare for the Honda Indy on Sunday. “As long as you can see some light at the end of the tunnel. I’m having my fingers crossed here, but I think hopefully we can have a good weekend and a good summer.”

Anything would be better than the winter and spring the four-time champion of the former Champ Car series went through.

The troubles began in January, when he lost his ride with Peugeot after the French automaker pulled the plug on its racing program for this year.

Then his backup plan _ accepting old friend Jay Penske’s invite to join his IndyCar Dragon Racing team _ got turned upside-down in May. That’s when Dragon Racing sued engine manufacturer Lotus for failing to deliver two chassis. The lawsuit was eventually dropped after Penske reached a deal with Chevy to provide one engine to his two-driver team.

That’s left Bourdais and Katherine Legge sharing one car, with Bourdais handling the road courses.

After taking a three-race IndyCar break, Bourdais is back behind the wheel at the Honda Indy Toronto this weekend. On Saturday, he enjoyed his best qualifying day of the season by finishing fourth.

That continued a good run for Bourdais, who played a key role in helping his team finish third the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series’ Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen, N.Y.

Not bad for Bourdais was still in Le Mans, France, when he got the invitation from team owner Peter Baron to race at the Glen only six days earlier.

“I try to extract pleasure and satisfaction from these situations,” he said. “At times, you look at yourself and realize, `I drove pretty well today.’ And when I can feel I can do that, then I’m all right.”

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GOOD OMEN FOR HUNTER-REAY? Might the stars be aligning once again for Ryan Hunter-Reay to extend his winning streak to three?

Dario Franchitti winning the pole Saturday was certainly a good sign. Now, all the American-born driver needs is a rain delay on Sunday.

Sitting second in the points standings, Hunter-Ray has won two straight and three dating to New Hampshire last year.

All three wins have had several things in common: Franchitti has won the pole each time but failed to finish; and all three wins have come after rain delays.

“I’m certainly not going to be worried if the rain clouds are coming,” Hunter-Reay joked earlier this week.

Unfortunately, the rain came Saturday, and the forecast for Sunday calls for mainly sun, no rain.

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YACAMAN A WINNER: Columbia’s Gustavo Yacaman won the Firestone Indy Lights Toronto 100 on Saturday for his second victory of the season.

He led 38 of the 50 laps to claim the $23,000 purse. Yacaman finished 2.287 seconds ahead of Sebastian Saavedra. Pole-winner Victor Carbone finished third.

It’s the third career win for Yacaman, who also won at Belle Isle, Mich., this season, and at Baltimore last year.

Season points leader Esteban Guerrieri finished sixth.

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PIT STOPS: IndyCar veteran Tony Kanaan is scheduled to make his 191st consecutive start, which would put him 20 back of the record set by Jimmy Vasser. … Franchitti has 31 career wins, tied with Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais for seventh on the Indy list dating to 1909. … England’s Jack Hawksworth won the Star Formula Mazda race earlier in the under caution after Andre Mendez crashed into the wall coming out of Turn 11 with two laps left in the 21-lap race.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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