Troubles in Toronto

The Verizon IndyCar Series had their annual visit to Canada, when the 12th round was run on the streets of Toronto at the so-called Honda Indy Toronto event.

Josef Newgarden had grabbed Pole Position ahead of the current leader of the series, Scott Dixon. Simon Pagenaud was starting third ahead of Will Power, Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Local heroes James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens were starting P9 and P10 respectively, while Zachary Claman de Melo started from the very last spot in 23rd.

Conor Daly returned to the series, after only running at the Indy 500 for Dale Coyne Racing. He had taken over the seat from Gabby Chaves at Harding Racing. The young American had done a nice piece of work, qualifying 11th, in the brand new team, which he only started working together with on Friday morning.

Honda Indy Toronto 2018 start
Photo: / Chris Jones

It was a crazy start, where Newgarden kept the lead ahead of Dixon and Hunter-Reay. Power made a very late dive on teammate Pagenaud, resulting in the French driver losing three spots.

Both Schmidt Peterson Motorsports cars with Hinchcliffe and Wickers were almost taking each other out on Lap 2, but they did keep it off the wall.

Daly was barely staying away from the tire barrier on the fifth lap, but he got the car back on the racing line again.

Ed Jones gambled on an early first stop at Lap 13. The car stalled for him, so he lost several seconds. That made him exit the pits right in front of Newgarden, and had to defend himself for not losing a lap. He did manage to avoid that, and at the same time, he helped his teammate Dixon, who closed in on Newgarden.

Conor Daly
Photo: / Chris Jones

Sebastien Bourdais hit the tire wall in Turn 1 on Lap 22. He was able to get going again himself, so we avoided a FCY.

While Newgarden and Dixon were out front after the first pitstop round, Power had managed to jump Hunter-Reay in the fight for P3.

Hunter-Reay overtook Power, but ended up in the tire wall shortly after. That resulted in the first FCY of the day to get him restarted.

Only seconds before the off-track for Hunter-Reay, there was collision between Rossi and Power, with Rossi running up the back of Power, losing his own front wing, while Power received damage to his rear suspension.

Simon Pagenaud
Photo: / Joe Skibinski

It went all bonkers at the restart. Josef Newgarden hit the wall going out of the final turn, slowing a lot of the mid-pack down. He kept running, but in Turn 1 we had Graham Rahal hitting the rear of Max Chilton, creating a chain reaction where Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, Will Power, Sebastien Bourdais and Ed Jones all got involved. All cars were able to get going again, after a bit of help from the marshals

So that resulted in Scott Dixon being the new leader of the race, ahead of Robert Wickens and Simon Pagenaud.

There were a lot of fighting in the midfield, when the race was restarted with 45 laps to go. Takuma Sato and Marco Andretti had an intense fight on the back straight, where Andretti first overtook the Japanese driver, but the 2017 Indy 500 came back on the brakes.

Only three laps after the last FCY, the Safety Car had to go back onto the track again, since Rene Binder had spun around, and needed help to get the car fired up again.

Luckily it didn’t last long before the race went green again.

James Hinchcliffe
Photo: / Chris Jones

The last planned pitstop of the day was done with about 30 laps to go. Pagenaud exited right in front of Wickens, who was almost rear ending the Frenchman in Turn 1. The Canadian used Push-2-Pass down the back straight and was right alongside Pagenaud, turning it into a duel on the brakes in Turn 3. The two cars bumped each other a few times with the wheels, and Wickens ended up being squeezed towards the concrete wall, and had to drop behind Pagenaud in their fight for second and third.

Takuma Sato scraped the wall with 20 laps to go. That was the end of the race for the Japanese driver, but luckily he was able to drive the car to a place of safety, so we avoided a FCY.

Dixon was really pushing hard out front – so hard that he even brushed the concrete wall going out of Turn 1. Pagenaud was less than two seconds behind Dixon, keeping the Kiwi on his toes.

Scott Dixon
Photo: / Chris Owens

Spencer Pigot scraped the wall on the exact same spot as Sato and Newgarden, and destroyed his suspension. Other than Sato, he was able to get the car back to the pits, but it was Game Over.

Marco Andretti had to pit from P5 at the start of the very final lap, since he was going to run out of fuel. So instead of P5, he ended up P10.

Scott Dixon won the race in dominant style ahead of Simon Pagenaud and local heroes Robert Wickens and James Hinchcliffe.

Dixon stretched his lead in the Championship even further to Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and Robert Wickens. Dixon is now leading by 62 points, while there are only 63 points between Wickens in P6 and Newgarden in P2!

The Verizon IndyCar Series has one weekend off, before they return to the Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course on 29 July.

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