|Photo Credit: Chris Jones|
For three decades, Indy-style car racing has been an ingredient of summertime in Toronto (well, somewhat less last year since the race was positioned in June to accommodate the 2015 Pan-Am Games but the race was still held in reasonably warm temperatures). The 30th edition of the Toronto street race within Exhibition Place arrived with sensational momentum as current IndyCar stars including Canadian and 2016 Indy 500 pole sitter James Hinchcliffe prepared for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ only stop outside of the United States for 2016. Serving as the main event for the 2016 Honda Indy Toronto, the Verizon IndyCar Series 85-lap race on Sunday was set by the outcome of Saturday afternoon qualifying.
Contending on a refreshed street course design for 2016 created as a result of construction within the event grounds, the pit road was most notably shifted from the right side of the track to the left side. The pit road location movement has also prepared to be a turning curve for drivers evident by Juan-Pablo Montoya and Charlie Kimball who damaged their race cars in that reshaped sector of the track on Friday. Along with the re-configuration, the distance for a single lap has been revised. The track has grown from 1.755 miles to 1.786 miles for 2016. Current Verizon IndyCar Series point leader Simon Pagenaud set the fastest time from the two Friday practices at a 1-minute, 1.7081 seconds. Saturday’s qualifying demonstrated a heightened sense of understanding and bravery on the new Toronto street circuit as times dipped by almost two seconds.
In the two groups of round 1 qualifying, the Team Penske four-car effort proved fierce. With two team cars entered in each group, Simon Pagenaud led Helio Castroneves in group 1 while Will Power topped teammate Juan Pablo Montoya. Three of the four Roger Penske-owned entries advanced into the final Firestone Fast Six round used to decide the pole position for the Honda Indy Toronto. Montoya in the #2 DeVilbiss car was the only driver of the team not to advance settling for a ninth place starting spot for Sunday.
The Firestone Fast Six consisted of five Chevrolet powered vehicles and a lone Honda entry. To the delight of the Canadian crowd, the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car was driven by Oakville’s James Hinchcliffe. Cracking the top six in qualifying, Hinchcliffe posted a career-best effort in time trials at the Honda Indy Toronto in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Unable to meet the speed of the Chevrolet engines, Hinchcliffe was the slowest of the session taking the sixth spot for race day. "The Arrow Electronics guys did a great job. It's such a tough track out here with the conditions, the surface changes, the bumps obviously, but they did what they had to do and gave me a car that could get up there.” said Hinchcliffe in post-race.
|Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski|
As Helio Castroneves topped the time chart in the final seconds of qualifying for the Honda Indy Toronto, Scott Dixon driving his #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car crossed the line with just enough time for a final lap. The final lap by Dixon burst the bubble of the Team Penske organization as a Chip Ganassi-owned machine bettered their efforts. With a time just 0.0352 seconds faster, Scott Dixon beat Helio Castroneves on the Toronto street course. Clocked completing the front position-winning lap at 59.9073 seconds, Dixon’s pole time is almost half a second slower than Will Power’s time likely attributed to the slightly longer course length. While the crucial winner of the Firestone Fast Six, it’s worth noting the previous sessions were led by times faster than Scott Dixon’s effort.
Despite success and dominance through what is now a 50-year history for Team Penske, it may be a surprise to many that the organization has won just twice on the Toronto street course (first with Paul Tracy in 1993 and the second time with Will Power in 2010). A 1997 winner of an Indy Lights race at the Canadian motorsport event, Helio Castroneves starts second at the 2016 Honda Indy Toronto chasing his first IndyCar victory at the track. In the second row for the race will be the Penske teammates Simon Pagenaud and Will Power. 2004 and 2014 Toronto race winner Sebastien Bourdais starts in fifth place in the #11 Hydroxycut car. Along with James Hinchcliffe in sixth, the top-six starters of the 2016 Honda Indy Toronto were part of the top-six in Friday practice.
Rookie Conor Daly will start a strong seventh place alongside 2015 Honda Indy Toronto race winner Josef Newgarden. 2015 runner-up as a teammate to Newgarden, Luca Filippi now drives #19 Dale Coyne Racing for 2016 achieving a 11th place result in qualifying.
Starting in the back of the field for the 2016 Honda Indy Toronto is Marco Andretti in the 22nd spot. While driver Andretti cited a struggle of grip during Friday practice, the entire stable of cars for Andretti Autosport left disappointed after qualifying. The team’s highest-placed driver is Carlos Munoz who starts 15th.
Start time for the 30th edition of the race now known as the Honda Indy Toronto is set for 3:00 PM eastern time.
2016 Verizon IndyCar Series
Honda Indy Toronto
Pos # / Driver/ Car #/ Engine
1 Scott Dixon 9 Chevrolet
2 Helio Castroneves 3 Chevrolet
3 Simon Pagenaud 22 Chevrolet
4 Will Power 12 Chevrolet
5 Sebastien Bourdais 11 Chevrolet
6 James Hinchcliffe 5 Honda
7 Conor Daly 18 Honda
8 Josef Newgarden 21 Chevrolet
9 Juan Pablo Montoya 2 Chevrolet
10 Mikhail Aleshin 7 Honda
11 Luca Fillippi 19 Honda
12 Tony Kanaan 10 Chevrolet
13 Jack Hawksworth 41 Honda
14 Max Chilton 8 Chevrolet
15 Carlos Munoz 26 Honda
16 Graham Rahal 15 Honda
17 Charlie Kimball 42 Chevrolet
18 Ryan Hunter-Reay 28 Honda
19 Alexander Rossi 98 Honda
20 Takuma Sato 14 Honda
21 Spencer Pigot 20 Honda
22 Marco Andretti 27 Honda