The Verizon Series made their annual stop north of the border this weekend for the Honda Indy Toronto. After a late twist in the race, it was Will Power who once again found victory lane on Sunday. It’s the third win in the last four races for Power, and the only race he didn’t win was last weekend’s race at Iowa, where he finished in second. He looks to be back to form after missing the season-opening race at St Petersburg, and now finds himself second in the championship standings, 47 points behind his Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud.
A yellow flag on Lap 58 turned the course of the race for Power, and race leader Scott Dixon. After dominating the race up until that point, Dixon was caught out and got shuffled back in the field. More caution laps after that didn’t help his chances, as many other drivers were able to conserve fuel and didn’t have to pit late in the race. Helio Castroneves rebounded from a cut tire to give Team Penske a 1-2 finish, and hometown favorite James Hinchcliffe joined them on the podium, which delighted the crowd. Tony Kanaan and Takuma Sato rounded out the top five on Sunday.
Honda Indy Toronto Box Score
Overall it was an excellent day for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, as they got the podium result with Hinchcliffe, and Mikhail Aleshin came home in 6th position. Sebastien Bourdais continued his run of good finishes at Toronto, with a 7th place result. Pagenaud finished one spot behind Dixon, and Marco Andretti ended up with a top-ten finish after starting in last place. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal both improved slightly from their starting positions, but still finished 12th and 13th respectively.
Dixon’s team was understandably upset by the ill-time caution, but couldn’t do anything about it. Mike Hull said that they were going to be pitting on the next lap, but it was one lap too late, as Power came in just prior to the yellow lights being displayed. It was a tough pill to swallow for Dixon and the crew, as the finished in 8th place after leading 56 of the 85 laps. There is good news though, as the next race (Mid-Ohio) happens to be a place where Dixon has been extremely dominant. In nine starts at Mid-Ohio, Dixon has 5 race wins, 3 more top-fives, and his only finish outside of the top-five is a 7th place result. It’s never too late to count out the four-time series champion.
It was a rough weekend for Juan Montoya, who crashed in practice on Friday, rebounded to qualify 9th on Saturday, but then crashed on Lap 82 of the race on Sunday, finishing in 20th. In six starts at Toronto, Montoya has never led a lap, and his finishes are 22nd, 24th, 18th, 19th, 7th, and 20th. While his three Penske teammates are 1-2-3 in the championship standings, Montoya finds himself in 13th with five races remaining on the schedule.
It was also a bad day for Josef Newgarden, who was riding the momentum wave as of late. After Montoya knocked off his left-rear pod, Josef found himself in the back of the field. After hitting the curb in Turn 5 on Lap 58, he lost control of the wheel and smacked the outside wall. He finished 22nd today, and is really going to be hurting in the championship hunt after his DNF gets posted at Texas next month.
The next race on the schedule is the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on July 31. CNBC will once again provide coverage for the race, which begins at 2 PM ET on Sunday.
Race Photos via IndyCar
Juan Montoya: “Yeah, it’s terrible. On Friday, I made a mistake and went into the wall so we got behind. In the morning yesterday we had a misfire with the engine and didn’t do any laps before qualifying. We didn’t qualify as well as we could. We knew we had a good race car though. The DeVilbiss Chevy was really good. I passed a lot of people and had a lot of fun. I thought I had an easy podium if not more. We missed a pit call by about two seconds. I started at the back. I was running with the No. 28 (Ryan Hunter-Reay) there late and went to turn with him, but the No. 41 (Jack Hawksworth) was in the wall and there was nowhere to go. It seems like every weekend there is something, and it’s getting really old really fast.”
Helio Castroneves: “I’m smiling because I know we didn’t win, but the Pennzoil Chevrolet car was really strong. When we felt the car vibrating and I was just telling Roger, ‘Hey listen, it’s just vibration. But let’s not pit.’ Then, all of a sudden I felt the car pulling and the tire just gave up. I’m not sure why. I noticed the curb in Turn 5, it could be. I don’t know. Finally, we got a little break on the yellow. It put us back in the position to fight. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to pass so I tried everything I could, and in the end I was like, ‘OK this is the chance,’ but Will had like six push to pass. I only had three. It was very difficult to get the tires going but Roger and the entire Pennzoil Chevrolet guys, man, I’m so proud to be part of this team. These guys are never giving up. Thanks everyone. Let’s keep going. Let’s move to the next one.”
James Hinchcliffe: “As we’re coming out of that last restart, I saw everybody in the last section get to their feet and I was just hoping I didn’t screw it up. It was obviously a great day to have a good day and for once we caught a lucky break in Toronto. I’m not going to lie and sit here say we had third place pace. We really struggled on blacks in the middle stint. But as the cloud cover came out in that last stint, the track really kind of came to us so we had to save fuel. The car was there. Can’t thank Arrow Electronics and the Schmidt Peterson guys enough. To do it here in Toronto, Petro Canada, Pizza, Pizza on board for the weekend. There’s going to be a party tonight in Hinchtown for sure.”
Mikhail Aleshin: “The team did an amazing job and that’s what allowed me to be in the top six in the SMP Racing car. Sixth place is great for the points championship and we’re going to aim for even more next time. Thanks to the SMP crew and now we’ll focus on Mid-Ohio.”
Max Chilton: “It was a challenging day for the Gallagher team. I felt our speed in the second half of the stint was in about the top six out there. It was frustrating because when the time counted I just couldn’t get the tires to come in. And that in turn was part of the reason I had the accident later on when I couldn’t get the fronts to turn. Luckily the guys did a great job in changing the front wing quickly and they kept us on the lead lap. Frustrating day but it was good to finally get the track time and some experience here on this circuit as most all other drivers had been here previously.”
Scott Dixon: “Obviously not the result that we wanted today for Team Target after starting on pole and leading all those laps in the first few stints. It was looking like it was going to be our race all afternoon but the timing of how everything worked out just took it away from us. It was just about as frustrating of a race as you can have.”
Tony Kanaan: “I think we had something for (James) Hinchcliffe. For sure, I think they had to save fuel and I didn’t. It was a risky move for us but it worked out. Big props to Todd (Malloy, lead engineer), Barry (Wanser, strategist) and my NTT Data guys. We’re getting there… we’re getting closer and closer every weekend.”
Sebastien Bourdais: “Obviously it was not the result the Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing Team was looking for today. I think the car was better than that, it was hooked up, but we seem to degrade the red tires too much. On blacks we seem to be strong. The real problem was that yellow for ‘track repair.’ It was a killer because I was managing the red tires at that point, which were falling off really bad, and once the yellow came out I had to make the restart on those and it was game over. I am disappointed about the result, but in the group of guys that were with us, we are not the ones who came out the worst. It is not where we want to finish, but we did the best with what we had.”
Will Power: “The Verizon Chevrolet team has been doing a great job. Obviously we have been playing catch-up all year, but every race they are executing. We are getting great strategies, great cars. We just have to keep chipping away, chipping away at this and see if we can have a shot at this. (On being second in points) I don’t know what the points situation is right now, all I know is that we have to keep finishing ahead of the No. 22 (Simon Pagenaud) if we want a shot at the title.”
Takuma Sato: “A difficult weekend that ended up quite sweet for the No. 14 car with a fantastic result after having had a difficult qualifying and then going through the field. Larry and the engineers made the right call for the strategy and the ABC Supply Honda worked really well and the pit stops were really fantastic. I was able to overtake a few cars on track. We were able to save fuel which was really tight, but a couple yellows saved us. I’m proud of my guys, we achieved a really good result.”
Graham Rahal: “We got unlucky with that caution (Josef Newgarden); it killed our strategy. Kimball hit us on the start and flattened our tire so right away we were behind the eight ball. That’s the way some of these have gone this year. We fight awfully hard but we have work to do.”
Conor Daly: “It was a really weird race. It was really, really tough to defend from anyone, even though overall we were quicker. We were good into Turn 1 and I’d get runs, but I couldn’t defend myself and I couldn’t pass even with overtake. We have to look into that. Other than that, a lot of contact, beating and banging. Some pretty unfair driving every now and then, but it is what it is. It’s just a shame that it worked out that way. I made one big mistake on the restart that really kind of put us out of contention, but I have no idea why that happened. I’ve never experienced the cold tire grip that the blacks had in my life, so it was really weird.”
Luca Filippi: “The race went the opposite way than we wanted. We started on black Firestones and tried to survive in our position, which we did as we were running 10th. Everything was good up until then, but we lost a couple of positions after our stop and I couldn’t make those reds work for us at that point. But it was still decent and we had the potential to finish in the top 10, easily. However, a yellow came out at the wrong time and it killed our race. It’s a shame. I wish we had more luck to be able to show our pace. It would have been nice to put some laps together and get up front.”
Spencer Pigot: “We just struggled to get the tires up to temperature. I locked up on the second to last restart and flat spotted the tires so we had to come in and pit. We just didn’t really have the pace today to compete towards the Top 10. I also had a broken front wing which definitely did not help. I just want to thank Ed Carpenter Racing and Rising Star Racing for this opportunity and I can’t wait to get back in the Fuzzy’s Vodka car in Mid-Ohio.”
Josef Newgarden: “It is an error on my part. I hate to blame it on an injury, but I hit the curb too hard and lost the wheel. I couldn’t hang on to the wheel. I didn’t have the strength to hold on to the wheel. I feel terrible for our guys. We had a good race going. We were fighting back. We got put back for an incident that I don’t think was our fault. We fought our way back. We could have had a good finish there. My mistake and I feel bad because we are going to lose some points there. (On the hand) It’s just sore. I wish my grip strength was better right now but it’s not. Probably not where I need to be. I should have stayed off the curb. I knew better than to hit it that hard with my grip strength where it is.”
Simon Pagenaud: “The PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet was much stronger than what the results showed. It’s really unfortunate. I was really happy that I was able to run second for most of the race. We trimmed the car great midway through the race and it was really strong at the end, but unfortunately we got caught on the last yellow and that shuffled us to the back. We were able to get back inside the top 10 which was a great performance. We lost quite a bit of points today, but over the performance is there. It’s there every week. That’s the silver lining to see how competitive we are. So, we go to Mid-Ohio which is a track that suits me very well. I’m very excited about it.”
Carlos Munoz: “It was a disappointing race. We had some issues with a wheel and I had to do a whole lap with only three wheels. We lost a whole lap from that, but we showed our pace was pretty decent today. We made a lot of changes overnight and it seems like it worked. We’ll have to see what we have once we get to Mid-Ohio.”
Marco Andretti: “Glad we could get a top-10 finish for Dr Pepper. Considering where we started, we made up some ground, but we’ve really got to get better as a whole. It’s definitely been a frustrating weekend when it comes to pace. We have to improve mechanical grip to make it easier on the driver. Time to focus forward on Mid-Ohio and see what we can get done there.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “It was a struggle of a day, really couldn’t do anything with the car. Thought we had a promising direction for the DHL car in warm-up but it didn’t translate to the race. We were absolutely struggling out there, it was similar to Long Beach. The last couple road course races we finished third and fourth, but this one was far from that so we’ll need to go back and work on that and get back on the podium at Mid-Ohio.”
Jack Hawksworth: “Very difficult. We weren’t very good on the reds but we were okay on the blacks and we were running up there at the end. The brakes started to go away and we lost a little bit of performance. Then in the last five laps I didn’t have any front brakes and was just about hanging on, and then Pagenaud ran into the back of me and that was it. I can’t believe it really. It is what it is.”
Charlie Kimball: “Overall just a really great day for the No. 83 car. The result wasn’t what we wanted, being outside the top 10. I think with the opportunity we definitely had a top five car today. I feel really good about the guys on pit lane. The second stop under yellow we made up a couple spots and we never gave them back. It was unfortunate the yellow came out when it did but we’ll take the points and move on to Mid-Ohio, I’ve got a pretty good record there and I’m looking forward to it. Honestly the fans were great here all weekend and it’s such a pleasure coming up to Toronto each year for the (race). I think it’s definitely one of the highlights and is rapidly becoming one of my favorite stops on the series.”
Alexander Rossi: “I think we had the potential to be top five today, but the way that second-to-last yellow fell, we lost a lot of track position and it’s impossible to pass around here. It was always going to be a tough race starting from 19th, so we need to qualify better at Mid-Ohio and work hard for a better result.”