IndyCar – Day 1 at the Honda Indy Toronto

Car adjustments FP1Friday was a busier than usual first day for IndyCar’s annual visit to Canada and the Honda Indy Toronto as this weekend marks the series second doubleheader race weekend in 2013.


The day called for a full day of practice and qualifying both for the IndyCar drivers and the various support races. The IndyCar drivers were on track in the morning for their first practice session followed in the afternoon by qualifying Saturday’s race 1.

Saturday morning will start with IndyCar teams qualifying for Sunday’s race 2 and the afternoon will see them compete in their race 1. As far as the races are concerned, race 1 will feature a standing start (F1 style) and Sunday’s race 2 will feature a traditional IndyCar rolling start, have I lost you yet?!

Before we get into the action and results from Friday, during the course of my weekend reports at the track I will include some up-close and behind the scenes photo’s which are only available with media access. These will include photo’s from pitlane during practice and qualifying and a look inside the media centre to give you an insider’s view, I hope you  enjoy these shot’s.


Dario Franchitti earned his fifth career pole start Friday at Toronto and 32nd in IndyCar competition by claiming the Verizon P1 Award for Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto.

Pitlane before FP1Hinch on pitwall“It feels good to get our third pole of the year,” said Franchitti, who moved into a tie with Michael Andretti for sixth on the all-time IndyCar list by recording a lap of 59.6756 seconds in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda in the Firestone Fast Six. “I made it difficult this morning. I made a mistake in Turn 5, took the right side off the car. The guys had to work and repair the car.”

Sebastien Bourdais, who has started from pole three times in Toronto and won the 2004 CART race, secured his first front-row start in the No. 7 Dragon Racing car. Combined, Franchitti and Bourdais have amassed 62 wins and 63 pole starts. Four of Franchitti’s victories have come in Toronto, a city and circuit he enjoys, with many British and Scottish fans to make him feel at home.

Five different teams were represented in the Firestone Fast Six session. Will Power and Tony Kanaan will share the second row of the grid, while James Jakes and Scott Dixon qualified on Row 3. However, Jakes will incur a 10-spot grid penalty for an unapproved engine change following last weekend’s Pocono 400 race.

Dario FranchittiChampionship points leader Helio Castroneves qualified eighth. Defending race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, who entered the event 23 points behind Castroneves, qualified seventh.

Drivers practiced standing starts from a pit box at the end of pit lane during the morning session. IndyCar officials monitored the mandatory launches as drivers got familiar with the starting light sequence countdown.

Qualifying 1 results can be seen here,


DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda):

“Luckily enough, the Target car feels good on blacks or reds. Not too big of a balance shift. I managed to get a really good lap on the blacks. So, happy with the speed of the blacks and happy with the speed on the reds. Thanks to these boys for fixing (the car) after my little incident this morning. I buffed a sidepod again on one of the walls just getting a little close, but it feels good.”

(About if championship is out of the picture): “No, it’s not. I’ve never looked at it that way. Whether I was first, or at one point this year I was last in the championship, so never say never. Until it’s mathematically impossible, you just keep fighting every week. We’ve put ourselves in a bit of a hole, but we’ll see if we can dig our way out.”

Media Centre early morningPole awards in the media center(Comparing this track to Detroit): “It’s not as bumpy. Detroit was like a rally stage almost. The cars were so on top, you were catching the slightest every corner, like driving a rally car with low grip. So this is probably a little bit of a higher grip surface, unbelievably is a little less bumpy in most places than Detroit, but I think it’s a least an equal physical challenge than Detroit. It’s 85 laps – that’s a long way.”

(About standing starts): “For most of the people in the field, it’s been such a long time since we did standing starts. And with this hand clutch and everything, it’s just going to be a complete unknown tomorrow. Which in some ways is good, it mixes things up a little bit. It’s better in the front than in the middle of it.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 7 Dragon Racing Chevrolet): 

“We finally got a break, and the car is heading in the right direction. We made a lot of changes this morning in the one-and-a-half hour session that we had. I’m pretty hopeful. We’re starting to understand what this car needs on the new tires, which is something we haven’t had since the start of the season.”

SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KVRT Chevrolet): 

“It was a really frustrating session. We’ve not been fast since we pretty much rolled out. Hopefully for tomorrow, we can fix it and have a good race from where we’re starting and have a better qualifying for the second race. But we’ll have to see. Right now I don’t think any of us are happy at all with what we’ve got, so we just need to work a little bit harder and keep getting better every session.”

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet):

“We’ve got a great National Guard Chevy, and I’m excited to be here. It’s the first race we’ve come to with a little bit of continuity, and we’re really getting to know one another and the preparation has been good.

We’ve been fast all day, but it was a little bit of a disjointed qualification session there with the red flag, which caught us out, because we had a better car than the time I put down. But it’s just that competitive here in the IndyCar Series now; you can’t leave anything to chance. We’re happy with a top-10, and we can move forward from there, especially with the standing start.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda):

“We had difficulty in the morning session with several different issues. Our car didn’t like the track initially, so we made a lot of changes in the practice session, and with the other issues we had, we just ran out of time. Then we made a lot of changes for qualifying and expected to have a lot more grip from the alternate red tire, which we did.

We made good progress in Segment One, and the car was much more comfortable and I was able to push hard. But in the second segment going into Turn 1, we were always on the edge just kissing the bumps. But the last time, it bottomed out, and it went straight in to the tires. It’s unfortunate, but we have another qualifying session tomorrow, so hopefully we can improve again.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): 

“It’s frustrating to improve that much in time but not move up the grid. We had some issues this morning, but we made some nice gains in qualifying. We jumped 1.7 seconds from the morning practice. We definitely took a step forward today, and we have another qualifying session tomorrow morning.

I think the standing start will be interesting on Saturday. We’ll see how the response is for it. It’s kind of like the heat races at Iowa. If the fans like it, it is something we should consider doing it in the future. I don’t like the fact we just do it two times a year, though. If it is something that is going move the needle, I think we should do it all the time. We need the practice to do it all of the time. And we need the technology to do it right, too.

I feel it is a little too last-minute for here this weekend. I’ve never done a standing start in a race. We practiced it this morning, and I think it will be good for Saturday. This is a physical track, but I really like it. It’s a bumpy track, and the long straightaway makes for a lot of action. Plus I really like coming to Toronto. It’s a great crowd today already.”

(How did the Carpenter kids like the movie “Turbo?”): “They had a great time last night at the premiere. They really liked the movie. It was late night for them, but they were still talking about the movie. I’m sure we will be buying the DVD or on iTunes or Apple TV as soon as it becomes available.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda):

“We’ve got a really fast car, and I’m honestly very happy with it. I’m very frustrated, though, because I couldn’t extract the full potential of what the HP car has in it because we’re having brake problems. We’ve had the issue since this morning’s practice. When I hit the brake, I can’t stop the car properly, which obviously makes it very difficult to drive. It’s a shame because we had a pole position car today.” 

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet): 

“This is certainly not the way we wanted qualifying to go. I feel bad for all the fans here; (they) deserved better than that, but we’ll put our heads down tomorrow. It’s a long race, and I know we’ll have a good car.

We missed it by less than a tenth (of a second) to get through (to the Firestone Fast Six), and it’s heart-breaking to miss it by so little. But it’s a long race, and this is a track you can pass on and you can plan strategy to your advantage, so fingers crossed that when it counts, when the points are paying tomorrow, we’ll be at the right end.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Hydroxycut KVRT-SH Racing Chevrolet): 

“I’m excited about (qualifying fourth). It’s the hometown race for my sponsor Hydroxycut. I know everyone is pulling for Hinch, which is totally fair, but we have some Canadian sponsors on the car. Hopefully we can put on an exciting show for the fans.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): 

“I hope to get a good start tomorrow. The big key to getting a good start is to not get too much (wheel) spin, so you get that proper hookup. I haven’t had a chance to look at the grid box, but hopefully it’s on a good patch of asphalt because it changes so much around this track.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet): 

“It’s frustrating. We had a great car today; we led the first practice. I’d like to thank the guys, the crew on the No. 1 DHL team for giving me a great car. I’d like to thank (Takuma) Sato for knocking us out of the session again today. It’s unfortunate, but we’ll be fighting again tomorrow, we’ll be fighting again on Sunday. It’s just out of our control, so what do you do? We’ll just pack up and hope for a better day tomorrow.”

(About hand injury suffered at Pocono when hit from behind in pits by Takuma Sato): “It’s a concern, for sure; it’s part of it. We don’t have any power steering at all in these cars, and when you get into an issue where you touch a wall or get in to it with another car, the wheel will whip around, and a lot of guys are hurting their thumbs, tearing ligaments and stuff like that. Certainly not a fun situation and not fun driving with it here at Toronto.”

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 98 Barracuda Racing Honda): 

“We have some work to do for the race. I don’t think we have a handle on what we need for the Barracuda Racing car to go fast at the moment, but we’re not going to give up. We just have to work at bit harder and find a way to get that pace we’re looking for.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoRapid FlexTouch Honda): 

“It’s pretty slick out there. There’s only about an hour and a half of practice with Indy cars out there, so there isn’t a lot of rubber down yet on the track. The track is really busy today with other series; it’s just hasn’t put any grip down yet. The guys were able to get a lap time out of it, We were within a couple tenths of transferring, so we’re making some progress.

Having Dario be the quickest in that group and being able to look at his data and to make it better will be good, not just for tomorrow, but also for the future. I think we’ll be in good shape come race time tomorrow. With the standing start, there’s more chance for trouble being in the back, so you have to keep a head up, for sure, but I think the No. 83 NovoRapid FlexTouch car here in Canada is going to be good. We just have to get a clean start in the race.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 Dr Pepper Chevrolet): 

“You always want to do your laps in the end, but I’m sure I’m in the same boat as everyone else, so I can’t use that final red flag as an excuse. We tried something for the second qualifying round that didn’t really help, so it’s a bummer for the Dr Pepper crew.

I think the race tomorrow will come down to attrition. Mistakes will be made during the race, but hopefully not from us. Hopefully there isn’t too much carnage, but there might be with the first standing starts. I think the fans are going to be in for a good show.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda):

“We didn’t get the most out of what we probably could have in qualifying, but I think we’ll have a better day tomorrow. We have a good hold on what we need for this weekend, so we are looking forward to the two races here in TO. It should be a good points weekend for us. We just have to make sure to maximize each race.”

TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 55 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): 

“Unfortunately the No. 55 Peterson Motorsports car just wasn’t up to speed today. We’re going to put our heads together tonight and hopefully come back with a much better package tomorrow morning for qualifying 2 and then the race. The good thing about these doubleheader race weekends is that there’s enough action on the track to turn things around if they’re not going your way. With the strong people we have on this team, I’m sure that we can do that.”

E.J. VISO (No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA Citgo Chevrolet):

“Qualifying for Race 1 didn’t go as expected. I believe we had good potential of going to the (Firestone) Fast Six, but it didn’t happen. We’ll have a second chance tomorrow, and I think for the second race we can do good. We’ve shown in so many splits that we had the speed to be in the top three.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Midas/Big O Tires Honda): 

“I’m very disappointed in our qualifying effort. Unfortunately we tried to do the (lap) time too late on the tires. The two laps before that should have been better. One was average and the next one, Simona came out of the pits in front of me and I caught her in the middle of Turn 1, so I lost some time there. I just threw a lap in, and it was a solid lap. But unfortunately we missed it by one-tenth and a half (of a second), and that’s all it takes now.

It’s frustrating to start in the back; that’s kind of where we’ve been all year, and there’s no reason for it. We’re going to just keep working. James typically likes a loose car compared to me, and I’m a little bit more loose than he is right now, so I’m hanging on a bit. We’re going to have to make some changes for tomorrow and try to improve it. I think the standing start is going to be really difficult. It will be interesting to see what happens. Starting in the back, we’re going to be in the midst of all the mess it if something happens.” By james Foreman

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