Saturday at the Honda Indy Toronto saw another hot and steamy, action filled day that began with IndyCar teams qualify and set the grid for Sunday’s race 2 in the morning and host race 1 in the afternoon.
In a season where Chevrolet powered teams have dominated, Honda have continued their resurgence from Pocono into Toronto’s popular IndyCar weekend both in terms of qualifying performance and Saturday’s thrilling race 1.
Honda powered Scott Dixon is now one step closer to claiming the $100,000 SONAX Perfect Finish Award after winning Saturday’s first race. The Target Chip Ganassi driver started fifth in the 85-lap race on the tight 1.7-mile, 11-turn street circuit, overtook race leader Sebastien Bourdais on Lap 78 and held off the four-time champion on a Lap 84 single-file restart for the victory. It was Dixon’s 31st victory, tying Bourdais, Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy for seventh on the all-time IndyCar list. Franchitti finished third in the race Saturday.
If Dixon wins Sunday’s race 2 he’ll earn the $100,000 SONAX Perfect Finish bonus. Dixon won six days earlier on the wide and fast Pocono Raceway 2.5-mile tri-oval. His last back-to-back victories were back in 2008 at Edmonton and Kentucky.
Bourdais finished 1 1.7007s behind the Kiwi to score his best finish since rejoining IndyCar in 2011. Pole winner Dario Franchitti was informed while standing on the podium that he was assessed a 25-second blocking penalty on the final lap that dropped him to 13th.
After the race, IndyCar officials met with Franchitti and Target Chip Ganassi team members to further review the blocking penalty issued on the final lap. The team presented car data showing steering trace and braking points from the Lap 85 incident with Team Penske’s Will Power. The group also viewed additional video. Upon further review, IndyCar decided that Franchitti was able to keep his third place finish.
Helio Castroneves, who currently leads the drivers’ championship standings, increased his lead from 23 points to 39 with a sixth-place finish in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. His closest challenger, reigning champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, finished 18th in the No. 1 DHL Chevrolet. Hunter-Reay encountered a string of problems, including stalling twice leaving his pit box and making contact with the Turn 3 tire barrier on Lap 79. Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti finished fourth and Tony Kanaan, fifth.
The first scheduled race standing start was aborted when the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car driven by Josef Newgarden developed an engine sensor malfunction before all the cars were gridded, forcing the implementation of a rolling start. The 24 drivers will try a standing start again in Sunday’s race 2.
“The fans deserve to see a standing start, so after consultation with the promoter, we have made the decision to implement standing start for Sunday’s race,” said Brian Barnhart, IndyCar’s President of Race Operations.
Dixon will be joined on the front row for Sunday’s race by Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Franchitti.
Full results from Saturday’s race 1 can be viewed here, http://www.imscdn.com/indycar_media/documents/2013-07-13/Honda%20Indy%20Toronto%202%20in%20TO%201%20Box%20Score.pdf
Full qualifying 2 results can be seen here, http://www.imscdn.com/indycar_media/documents/2013-07-13/Honda%20Indy%20Toronto%202%20in%20TO%202%20Qual%20Results.pdf
Video highlights Saturday morning’s qualifying 2 session can be seen here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3-OxoehNiog
SELECT POST RACE 1 QUOTES
Scott Dixon (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Racing Honda Dallara)
“I want to give a big shout out to all the fans here in Toronto, they’re just fantastic. I love coming here and now we’ve finally got a win to show for it. I thought Sebastien [Bourdais] definitely jumped the last restart, but we had the speed in hand and were able to get past him.
These are always tough races here, and having a second race [on Sunday] is going to make it even harder, but our car was fantastic all day. This is what we needed to get some momentum and start a run for the championship.”
Sebastien Bourdais (# 7 McAfee Dragon Racing Chevrolet)
“I think we just didn’t have quite enough for (Scott) Dixie (Dixon), but like Jay (Penske, Team Owner) said that is why I did doughnuts at the end it just feels like after everything we went through to be on that podium just feels like a million wins.
I can’t thank these guys enough for giving me the opportunity, the car and sticking with me. It’s been a rough ride so far so hopefully we can turn this thing around and score big from now on.”
(WHAT DID IT FEEL LIKE TO BE OUT FRONT AGAIN?) “It was like ‘what’s going to happen again’. I was just so stressed out because we’ve had so many good runs, but just never the end result. It feels so sweet to be here right now.“No matter what, this feels like a win for us. It’s a heck of a run after everything we’ve been through.
I think we had the better tire to start with (on the primary spec) and we took the lead but surrendered it. You just had to keep fighting for it and that’s what we did. Yesterday, the red Firestone tire was the perfect tire for us (in qualifying). The temperature increased between yesterday and today, and it was not the perfect tire anymore. Usually you want to finish the race with these things (alternate tires) on because they come up to temp faster, they restart better and that was the whole idea behind it. It wasn’t bad but it was not better than the primary tire today.”
Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet)
“On the last lap, it was tight. There might have been a little move on Dario’s part, but that’s racing, and we sometimes come together in Turn 3. We will go for another win in our Verizon car tomorrow. It will be a little harder starting from fifth. We had a chance today, but we just didn’t get it right. We will try again tomorrow.”
Art St. Cyr (President, Honda Performance Development)
“What a hard-fought race, with a well-earned victory by Scott Dixon. It’s great to see the Target Chip Ganassi team back and firing on all cylinders, and to see our Honda Performance Development effort continue to gain momentum as we enter the second half of the season. We had a great crowd here in Toronto today for the first half of this weekend’s doubleheader, and everyone at HPD is working hard tonight to complete a weekend sweep, just as we accomplished in Detroit last month.”
Chris Berube (Chevrolet Racing Program Manager, IZOD IndyCar Series)
“Congratulations to Sebastien Bourdais and the Dragon Racing crew for executing a strong race and second-place finish. Team Chevy claimed six of the top-10 finishing positions amongst four different Chevrolet-powered teams utilizing a “never give up” attitude, and the results of solid development work since the last street circuit in Detroit. The target is clearly in sight for Sunday’s race.” By James Foreman