NTT IndyCar Series had taken the tour to Toronto for the classic Honda Indy Toronto street race.
Simon Pagenaud had taken Pole Position in front of Scott Dixon and Felix Rosenqvist, while Alexander Rossi, championship leader Josef Newgarden and Ed Jones completed the top six.
The first couple of corners went well, despite Rossi locking his front wheels on the way to Turn 1, which luckily went okay enough and he ended up taking third place.
But it didn’t go as smoothly later on the same lap, when Will Power tried to dive from the outside of Graham Rahal. Rahal himself was in the middle of overtaking Marco Andretti, and three men through a narrow corner just wouldn’t work. It caused panic and Rahal and Power suddenly held still, while Andretti quickly went away with a nice 360 degrees spin. But Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marcus Ericsson and Matheus Leist were caught in the incident and dropped down to the back of the field.
When the race got restarted, Ed Jones got past Felix Rosenqvist in Turn 5, in the red Ed Carpenter Racing car.
Tony Kanaan was also having a progress, driving himself eight positions up the field in a short amount of time.
Colton Herta and Marco Andretti were driving a bit close, but they managed to avoid causing damage on the cars.
Hunter-Reay attempted to overtake Santino Ferrucci, but ended up losing a place to Rahal instead.
Rossi was the first driver to do the obligatory pitstop on lap 16, where he changed from the fast red tires to the standard ones.
The two Ed Carpenter Racing drivers Spencer Pigot and Ed Jones had a bit of close contact, when Pigot tried to get past Jones from the outside. Jones wouldn’t have any of it and almost sent his teammate to the concrete wall, breaking Pigot’s front wing.
Pagenaud, Dixon and Rosenqvist came in shortly after Rossi, in order to avoid a possible Safety Car situation. Pagenaud came out of the pits in front of a traffic, while Dixon, Rossi and Newgarden ended up behind slower drivers who had pitted earlier under the Safety Car period.
Rosenqvist fell back a couple of places before and under his first pitstop, but he tried to come up the field again. He finally got past Takuma Sato, but the Japanese answered again a few corners later. Shortly after that Sebastien Bourdais also overtook the Swede, who obviously didn’t have an easy Toronto debut.
Local hero Hinchcliffe started the race from P14, but he was up to eighth place before we reached the halfway point of the 85 laps.
Fifty laps into the race, the second pitstop round started, for the drivers on the primary strategy.
It wasn’t something that changed positions significantly, but Dixon quickly caught up on Pagenaud in front, where they were within a couple of seconds of each other for the first time since the start of the race. It also had something to do with Pagenaud having problems to get past Tony Kanaan, whom he had to overlap. But opposed to Formula 1, you don’t have to automatically give up a place to the driver behind you, so it was a fair battle.
Twenty laps before the chequered flag, Dixon had closed the gap up to Pagenaud and put the Frenchman under intense pressure.
Three laps later, Takuma Sato had some problems with his engine, where there were high flames coming out of the exhaust. Luckily, he was right at the pit entry when it happened, so that he could pit and shut down the car, avoiding a Safety Car period. And in fact, the race had been green since the short interruption after the first lap incident.
Newgarden made a mistake with four laps left, where he brushed the wall on the way out to the start-finish straight. Fortunately, he didn’t hit it as hard as he did last year, so he could continue.
On the race’s penultimate lap, Will Power hit a tire wall – ironically it was the same corner where he made a mistake earlier in the race.
It meant that there was a Full Course Caution, which meant no more position change in the race.
So, Simon Pagenaud won the race in front of Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Josef Newgarden, Felix Rosenqvist, and local hero James Hinchcliffe. It was extra special for Frenchman Pagenaud, since it was on Bastille Day. So it couldn’t have been better for him, unless perhaps the victory was in the French part of Canada instead of Toronto.
Josef Newgarden keeps the lead in the championship, but now only four points ahead of Alexander Rossi, while Simon Pagenaud is within 40 points behind. Scott Dixon is fourth, but he is 86 points after the leader. There are only six rounds left to get points, so it is hard but not impossible.
The next round will be run already next weekend in Iowa, where NTT IndyCar Series will be back to an oval course.