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Newgarden To Start Toronto From Pole

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, July 15 2018

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden will start Sunday’s IndyCar Series race from the pole (File photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden took advantage of constantly changing conditions during Honda Indy Toronto qualifying Saturday to win pole position and the Verizon P1 Award for the 34th Indy car race to be contested at Exhibition Place.

The reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion, Newgarden was the last driver to hit the track during the Firestone Fast Six round of knockout qualifying around the 1.786-mile/11-turn temporary street course. Newgarden’s final lap in the six-minute session at 59.4956-seconds/108.068 mph secured the defending event winner his fourth pole of the season and sixth of his seven-year series career.

The three rounds of qualifying took place in varying conditions _ starting wet from rain and drying out when it subsided, only to see light precipitation return for the Firestone Fast Six. Despite the slick track featuring asphalt and concrete surfaces, drivers in the final round opted for Firestone’s dry-condition alternate tires, with Newgarden waiting as long as possible to begin his run.

“We went out a little later which, I thought if we could keep the minimum amount of laps on the tires, the better,” said Newgarden, whose bonus point earned for winning pole closed him to within 32 points of championship leader Scott Dixon, who qualified second.

“The last lap, I could feel it was getting better and better,” said Newgarden, driver of the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. “I’m like, ‘I’ve got to go for it here. I know that we can get the pole so I’m going to go for it.’ I gave it everything I had and that’s what we came up with, man.”

Newgarden has won the Verizon P1 Award in three of the last four races this season and qualified second in the other event. His first Toronto pole was Indy car pole position No. 262 in the 51-year history of Team Penske _ more than any other open-wheel organization.

Dixon set a lap record for the current track configuration at 58.5546-seconds/109.805 mph in Round 2, eclipsing the standard established last year by Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud at 59.9124-seconds. The four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion blamed himself for not putting the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda on pole, with his lap of 59.6920-seconds/107.713 mph falling short of Newgarden.

“I’m a bit disappointed and (mad) at myself for not putting the PNC Bank car on pole position,” Dixon said. “I feel bad for my team as well, as they gave me a car capable of doing it. I made a mistake in Turn 5 and that cost me a few tenths. All in all, it’s not terrible starting on the front row, but when you know you had one and then let it get away, it hurts a little bit.”

Pagenaud qualified third in the No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet via a lap of 59.7630-seconds/107.585 mph. Teammate Will Power will start fourth in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet after lapping at 59.8818-seconds/107.372 mph.

Andretti Autosport teammates Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay will start in Row 3 on Sunday. Rossi qualified the No. 27 NAPA Auto Parts Honda fifth at 1:00.6273/106.051 mph, with Hunter-Reay sixth in the No. 28 DHL Honda at 1:00.6615/105.991 mph.

Canadian favorite sons and Schmidt Peterson teammates James Hinchcliffe _ winner of last Sunday’s oval-track race at Iowa Speedway _ and Robert Wickens qualified ninth and 10th, respectively.

“That last lap was everything we had,” said Hinchcliffe, driver of the No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda. “I made that mistake out of Turn 8 the lap before, which first lap on those sticker (tires), is usually the best. Who knows what that lap could have been? The lap after, we were kind of building on that and we got thrown a curveball, so that’s my fault.

“The Arrow Electronics car was getting better every session and the rain and these conditions kind of threw us for a loop. It’s a shame. I think if we hadn’t had that spin, we might have been able to transfer into the Firestone Fast Six. Proud of the SPM guys _ it’s been a bit of a struggle this weekend. We’re keeping our heads honest. We can race from here and try to give the hometown fans a good result.”

Conor Daly, driving in his first race weekend since the Indianapolis 500 in May, qualified the No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet 11th.

“Today was great,” said Daly, who is replacing Gabby Chaves this weekend. “We saw some improvements in P3, but we just got balked on our fastest lap there. To go out on the rain tires that I’ve never driven on either, and it’s a new tire with a whole new situation on the street course, but I love the rain. We had one lap to do it and we did it, so I was over-the-moon happy.

“I have to thank Chevy for dialing us in there and all the No. 88 Harding Racing guys because we made improvements every session. We went half a second quicker than we’ve gone in the dry in Q2, so coming out 11th, as well, is just awesome. It’s such a big boost for the weekend because qualifying has always been a struggle of mine for sure, but to come out and do it like that is nice.”

Sunday’s 85-lap race will air live at 3 p.m. (EDT) on NBC Sports Network, SportsNet 360 and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. A final 30-minute warmup practice will start at 11:40 a.m. and stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com, youtube.com/indycar and the INDYCAR Mobile app.

The Mazda Road to Indy development ladder sanctioned by INDYCAR has doubleheader weekends scheduled for all three levels at Toronto. The first race in each series took place Saturday.

_ Patricio O’Ward (Andretti Autosport) led all 35 laps of the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race, avoiding incidents and spinning cars behind him as the latter stages encountered wet track conditions. O’Ward started second and passed teammate and pole-sitter Colton Herta on the opening lap.

Herta _ who sustained a non-displaced fracture at the base of his left thumb when he crashed into a tire barrier at the conclusion of morning qualifying _ made hard contact with the wall in the race and finished seventh. He will be evaluated by the INDYCAR medical staff Sunday to determine his status for the second weekend race.

_ Rinus VeeKay (Juncos Racing) won a wild Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires race which included a spectacular incident that sent the car of Harrison Scott airborne into the Turn 3 runoff after it made contact with the car of Sting Ray Robb. Scott emerged unhurt. More than half of the 14-car field was eliminated in incidents throughout the 25-lap race.

_ Kyle Kirkwood (Cape Motorsports) passed pole-sitter Dakota Dickerson (ArmsUp Motorsports) heading into the first turn of the opening lap and drove on to his fifth consecutive win in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda. Kirkwood won the 20-lap race by 0.3613-seconds.  

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Qualifying results Saturday for the Honda Indy Toronto Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.786-mile/11-turn Streets of Toronto’s Exhibition Place layout, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, time and speed in parentheses:

  1. (1) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 59.4956-seconds (108.068 mph)
  2. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 59.6920 (107.713)
  3. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 59.7630 (107.585)
  4. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 59.8818 (107.372)
  5. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:00.6273 (106.051)
  6. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 01:00.6615 (105.991)
  7. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 59.0712 (108.845)
  8. (20) Jordan King, Chevrolet, 59.0862 (108.817)
  9. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 59.1581 (108.685)
  10. (6) Robert Wickens, Honda, 59.1705 (108.662)
  11. (88) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 59.3133 (108.401)
  12. (4) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 59.4528 (108.146)
  13. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:14.7769 (85.984)
  14. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 01:00.1721 (106.854)
  15. (14) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 01:14.9691 (85.763)
  16. (21) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 01:00.1838 (106.833)
  17. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 01:15.1429 (85.565)
  18. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 01:00.2694 (106.681)
  19. (32) Rene Binder, Chevrolet, 01:15.8928 (84.719)
  20. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 01:00.4313 (106.395)
  21. (10) Ed Jones, Honda, No Time (No Speed)
  22. (26) Zach Veach, Honda, 01:00.5564 (106.175)
  23. (19) Zachary Claman De Melo, Honda, 01:00.6416 (106.026)
| , RacinToday.com Sunday, July 15 2018
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