Dixon Wins Toronto Doubleheader Opener
Scott Dixon won Saturday’s IZOD IndyCar Series race on the street course in Toronto. It was his second victory in a row and gives him a shot at sweeping the Toronto doubleheader, which concludes with race No. 2 on Sunday afternoon.
Dixon, who 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 CART champion on a Lap 84 single-file restart to earn his 31st victory to tie Bourdais, Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy for seventh on the all-time Indy car list.
“These doubleheaders are tough; we got through Race 1. Just a crazy day,” said Dixon, who will start from the pole in Race 2 (2 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network). “This is what we need to get the momentum going.”
If Dixon sweeps the doubleheader weekend, he’ll be presented a $100,000 SONAX Perfect Finish check.
Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, won six days earlier on the wide and fast Pocono Raceway 2.5-mile tri-oval. His last back-to-back victories occurred in 2008 at Edmonton and Kentucky.
Bourdais was 1.7007 seconds back for his best finish since rejoining Indy car racing in 2011 in the No. 7 Dragon Racing car. Bourdais’ last victory was at Mexico City in 2007.
“I think we just didn’t have quite enough for Dixie (Dixon),” Bourdais said, “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.”
Franchitti, who earned the Verizon P1 Award in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, 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. That elevated Marco Andretti, who advanced seven positions, to third and Tony Kanaan to fourth.
“(Will Power) chose a line (on the final lap), he couldn’t stop, he bounced off of me … I just don’t know,” said Franchitti, whose Target Chip Ganassi Racing team can appeal the INDYCAR ruling.
Helio Castroneves, the championship points front-runner entering the 12th event of the season, increased his lead from 23 points to 41 with a fifth-place finish in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske car combined with Ryan Hunter-Reay’s 18th place. Hunter-Reay encountered a string of problems, including stalling the No. 1 DHL car twice leaving his pit box and making contact with the Turn 3 tire barrier on Lap 79.
“Not an ideal day. We had two stalls in the pit lane and then were making some moves, making our way up on track, and then racing with E.J. (Viso) there I just got held down in the marbles on the inside and collected all that stuff on my tires,” said Hunter-Reay, who won in 2012 on the streets of Toronto. “I came down into (Turn) 3 and locked up the right side.
“A frustrating afternoon, but I hope we can regroup overnight and improve on the car. I didn’t feel confident at all under braking today and had some issues with it. The four cars, we’ll put our heads together and hopefully come out a better team tomorrow.”
Dixon had been pressuring Bourdais, who was on the Firestone alternate tires that trade off more grip on roads/streets for shorter tire life, since a Lap 69 restart. He was .3009 of a second behind Bourdais on Lap 77 and used his penultimate push to pass exiting Turn 2 to make the overtake stick. Dixon pulled away on the final restart for his first victory in Toronto.
“It’s been a rough start to the year; we definitely hit a bit of a stride right now,” said Dixon, who moved from fourth to third in the standings. “All we need to do is keep it going a little bit longer. I’ve got to thank Team Target, they seemed to get everything right in the pit stops. The car was fantastic. So happy right now to get a couple of wins this season and make a run for the championship.”
The first standing start in IZOD IndyCar Series history was aborted when the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car driven by Josef Newgarden stalled before all the cars were gridded and a rolling start was implemented.
A rolling start will be utilized for Race 2, with Dixon being joined on Row 1 by Franchitti. The same format will be used for the Houston doubleheader in early October.
Results Saturday of the Honda Indy Toronto Race 1 IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 1.755-mile Streets of Toronto, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (5) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
2. (2) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
3. (1) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
4. (10) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
5. (4) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
6. (7) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
7. (20) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
8. (13) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
9. (12) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
10. (22) Simona De Silvestro, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
11. (8) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
12. (15) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
13. (23) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
14. (14) EJ Viso, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
15. (3) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 84, Contact
16. (24) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 84, Running
17. (17) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 84, Running
18. (6) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy, 83, Running
19. (21) Tristan Vautier, Dallara-Honda, 83, Running
20. (18) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
21. (16) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 72, Contact
22. (9) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 64, Contact
23. (19) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 34, Running
24. (11) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 32, Mechanical
Winners average speed: 88.370
Time of Race: 01:41:17.0605
Margin of victory: 1.7007
Lead changes: 8
Franchitti 1 – 20
Bourdais 21 – 29
Kimball 30 – 31
Power 32 – 60
Bourdais 62 – 63
Dixon 64 – 68
Bourdais 69 – 77
Dixon 78 – 85
Point Standings: Castroneves 384, Hunter-Reay 345, Dixon 342, Andretti 333, Kanaan 301, Hinchcliffe 296, Pagenaud 291, Franchitti 274, Wilson 272, Power 260.No Comment