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Toronto course a challenge for IndyCar drivers

TORONTO (AP) -- Ryan Briscoe knows all about Toronto hospitals.

Briscoe broke his wrist in the first race of the doubleheader at the Honda Indy Toronto last year. The injury kept him from competing in the second race and later led to surgery.

Briscoe also made a visit to a local hospital three years ago, albeit with a less serious injury, after a wheel-to-wheel incident with Tony Kanaan.

"I've still got a little lump on my hand from that," Briscoe said.

Just finishing the claustrophobic street course race at Exhibition Place in one piece is difficult enough for IndyCar drivers. Surviving two races, which run Saturday and Sunday, on a crash-prone track requires plenty of strategy and a bit of luck.

Briscoe has seen a bit of everything at the race, and, like most drivers, is still trying to figure out how to win in Toronto.

"You never know," he said. "Everyone will say qualifying at the front of the track position is very important, but the way these races have been working out this year you really just got to be heads up all the time, get that strategy right, work the tires the right way, especially the red soft compound tires.

"And then, with a track where accidents are going to happen, you don't want to be caught out on track when the yellow comes out because the pits close and then you're hosed."

There are plenty of spots for potential accidents on the 11-turn track. Two in particular stand out to Briscoe: a tight right at Turn 1 and a deceptive Turn 3 hairpin where drivers often think they have more room than they do at the end of a long straight.

For Marco Andretti, who finished fourth and ninth last year, the final four turns are just as treacherous.

A bumpy Turn 8 leads into three final high-speed turns. IndyCar teams set up their cars differently depending on the track and weather conditions, and the high speeds of Turns 9-11 don't mix well with the street-car setup usually employed in Toronto.

"You normally just have to hang onto the car that's probably not going to do what you want through there, so that normally makes it tough, but it's character, it's fun," Andretti said.

Complicating matters is a grueling weekend set in the middle of a busy schedule.

Toronto caps a set of races that has been going on at least once every weekend since June 28. Drivers get just two 45-minute practice sessions Friday. The weekend is much busier, with qualifying held in the morning before the afternoon race Saturday and Sunday.

"These races are so physical," Briscoe said. "Especially in the middle of summer when it's so hot. You just really need to be on it, and on it quickly, and on the physical side it's just all about staying hydrated, really."

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