Entering this season, Josef Newgarden had yet to win a race in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Now ten races into this year, he is a two-time race winner. The American CFH Racing driver earned win number two today in Toronto in impressive fashion. Teammate Luca Filippi came home second, which was a career best, and the icing on the cake as the team got their first ever 1-2 finish. Newgarden finished 1.4485 seconds ahead of Filippi, as they held off the powerful Penske cars, among others.
After starting in 11th, Newgarden got to the front with fortunate circumstances. Once he was there though, he was strong. Not only did he not relinquish the lead, but no one was even able to close in on him to make a pass. He had a tense moment with Filippi, but the Italian driver thought better of it once they entered the turn. Helio Castroneves joined the two CFHR drivers on the podium. Will Power and Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the top five on Sunday.
Team co-owner Sarah Fisher was overjoyed, especially given their misfortune over the past six weeks. “I’m so proud of these guys. I wouldn’t have expected this.” Newgarden himself was ecstatic with the performance of everyone involved. “That we could give this team a 1-2 in its first year is just amazing. Hopefully we can continue to do this.”
Tony Kanaan had a quiet day until the end, when he suffered some rear end damage coming out of the pits. He still rebounded to finish sixth. Championship leader (27 points) Juan Montoya came home seventh after several good battles on track. Scott Dixon was never up front in today’s race, but got an eighth place finish in the Jurassic World car. Graham Rahal carried the banner for Honda once again, and finished ninth. Takuma Sato rounded out the top ten, as the top eight cars were all powered by Chevrolet.
Simon Pagenaud had one of the fastest cars on Sunday, but wasn’t able to maneuver around several slower cars, and it cost him dearly. His 11th place finish was not what the team had expected going into today’s race. Conor Daly had another solid run in the SPM car, filling in for James Hinchcliffe. He made a lot of great passes, and kept his nose clean in route to a 12th place finish. Marco Andretti finished 13th, and once again finished on the lead lap. He is still the only driver to have completed every lap of competition this season.
Newgarden and Power both led a race-high 30 laps. There were seven lead changes and just two cautions on Sunday. No penalties were issued during the race either. The only incident came when Stefano Coletti made contact with the wall, which resulted in suspension damage.
It was another forgettable day for Ryan Hunter-Reay. He had brake troubles at the end, but nothing seemed to go right today. His season has been a disappointment, and in his last five races at Toronto, he has finished 18th, 19th, 21st, 14th, and 19th today.
The series will take a week off, as it prepares to head west for another big oval on a Saturday evening. The next race on the schedule is the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana on June 27. NBC Sports Network will provide coverage for the event, which begins at 4 PM ET.
Will Power: “(The race) went quickly. I was surprised. They said it was the end and I was like, ‘Really, that’s it?’ But, yeah, I was happy. We went with a low risk – we didn’t want to get caught out by the yellow. I felt like, if we’d had five more laps, our car was pretty strong because we had black (tires) and Helio had reds on. We gained some points back with a solid top-four (finish). It was a championship type day for the Verizon Chevy team.”
Helio Castroneves: “After all the circumstances today – what a great job from the Hitachi boys. Roger (Penske) made a great call. I had no idea how they put me up there, but we were running really strong laps. The car was on rails. It’s a shame, certainly, it was crazy. I was pushing like I stole it. But in the end it was great. It was a shame with the weather a little bit, but thank God we were able to put some dry laps out there for the fans. The Canadian fans are always awesome. This is a great event and I hope when we come here next year, we get a win.”
Scott Dixon: “Not the day we wanted to have, obviously, in the Jurassic World car. The start of the race was really strung out and there seemed to be big gaps everywhere. We managed the transition well between the rain and dry-weather tires early on, but then got shuffled back. We were in good shape in the top five for the first part of the race, but then after the last stop we slid back in the top 10. The car wasn’t bad, we just ended up back there with the flow of the race, unfortunately.”
Tony Kanaan: “We struggled a little at the beginning of the race just trying to make the passes we needed and we lost a few spots on the restart early on. We regrouped and decided on an aggressive fuel strategy that kept me out longer than everyone else on the last stint and allowed me to get out of all of the traffic that had been holding me up throughout most of the race. Once we were able to get out of the traffic and in clear air, I think we were running almost a second faster than everyone else, so we definitely had the car to be up front. I have to thank the NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing crew guys for keeping me in this race. Our last stop of the race was so quick that I was actually able to make up seven spots. Sixth isn’t where I wanted to be, but with where we were running earlier on, it was definitely an improvement.”
Sebastien Bourdais: “For sure, we could have stretched it but (Carlos) Munoz just made it very difficult for us. We destroyed the tires behind him, both Power and I, and we finished, you know, behind each other. … Obviously the guys who were in clean air who stayed out there who ran some quick laps on their own and it was the right thing to do, except obviously, if there had been a yellow like on the first sequence, then you cycle to black (primary tires) and the race is over. It was a defense strategy. It was the right thing to do. We probably should have done it on the first one as well, not to expose ourselves but, hey, that’s the problem with yellows and closed pits. Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong.”
Graham Rahal: “I was pleased with the car’s performance, but it’s just not quick enough everywhere. We’ve just got to work on it. I think we found some things this weekend that will help us going forward, but it’s just frustrating to put all the effort in that we are and to finish ninth. I feel like we deserve better than this but we’re going to keep trying hard. I was either stuck in traffic, trying to get by (Takuma) Sato and getting blocked or cruising behind (Scott) Dixon. It was frustrating. We would have liked to get the Rousseau car further up there, but that was the best we had today.”
Luca Filippi: “We had a goal to be on the podium and we both achieved it with both cars. It’s nice when you set the goal and you achieve it and the team did everything perfectly to give us the opportunity to be up front. But we had a fast car and we knew we needed to be kind of in the clean air up in front and this is what we did — just kept pushing. We were faster and we ended up in front. I’m very happy. Very happy. The team did a great job. I thank the Fuzzy’s Vodka team because they believe in me and they gave me the opportunity to race INDYCAR properly and my first podium. Many more to come.”
Carlos Munoz: “Again, mechanical issues that ended our race. We were having a great race; I was fourth before everything and I think we had the speed to finish in that position or to fight for the podium. Once again, something out of the team and my hands – it’s racing. We really need to check to see why this is happening, but we put our heads down and head to Fontana.”
Marco Andretti: “We kind of had an intermediate setup on. I think of we had a dry setup on and went to (Firestone primary tire) blacks at the end, it would have been the way to go. The (Firestone alternate tire) reds were gone halfway through the stint, I started to fall off (Simon) Pagenaud and there was nothing I could do to hang on to the rear of the Dr Pepper car. We’re heading back to an oval with Fontana, so we’ll see what we can do there.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “Right rear brake issues the whole race, slowly but surely just kept losing rear brake pressure until it finally went completely. I had no rear brake pressure at all and had to pull it in with one lap from the end. Wish we could have brought home a better result in the No. 28 DHL.”
Josef Newgarden: “I’m so happy we were able to get a win, but a 1-2 is just amazing because Luca (Filippi) is such a star. I’m super happy for the whole group. Just an amazing team effort – I can’t believe we had a 1-2. It got a little close there with Luca, but we were really just trying to keep up after we got into the final stint. I got a little bit of lapped traffic, but I couldn’t do anything with the lapped traffic, but they wanted me to because of everyone that was coming. It’s close racing and, for sure, I got a little lucky, too, on that yellow. But you can’t discount that because it was an amazing effort by this crew at CFH Racing. They gave me amazing pit stops and a car to win. I’m definitely excited because this is Toronto and this is an INDYCAR town.”
Race Photos via IndyCar