Saturday, July 20, 2019

Dixon Begins Toronto Defense Weekend on Top

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Scott Dixon reminded his NTT IndyCar Series competitors of his prowess around the temporary street circuit at Toronto’s Exhibition Place as his bid to win the Honda Indy Toronto in consecutive years kicked off with a chart-topping performance Friday morning.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s PNC Bank Honda ended the weekend-opening practice scored atop the running order on the strength of a 1:01.0723 lap from Dixon, the defending race winner and series champion.

On his final lap of the session — and after serving a five-minute penalty for causing a red flag — Josef Newgarden split up a 1-2 performance for Ganassi in Practice 1, setting the second-fastest lap and displacing rookie Felix Rosenqvist to third. Rosenqvist turned nine more laps than his veteran teammate in his first IndyCar session on the Toronto street circuit.

Championship contender Alexander Rossi lapped within 0.312 seconds of Dixon on their respective quickest laps and was 0.1126 seconds quicker than Simon Pagenaud, who joined his Team Penske stablemate Newgarden in representing Chevrolet in the top five. Pagenaud was 0.4246 seconds off Dixon’s pace in fifth.

Takuma Sato spins in 2019 Toronto IndyCar Practice 1
Takuma Sato was one of three drivers caught out by the tricky angle and surface at Turn 11. | Photo: Jamie Sheldrick / Spacesuit Media

Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power, Sebastien Bourdais, Takuma Sato and Spencer Pigot filled out the remainder of the top 10, giving Honda a 6-4 advantage in the group. Less than eight-tenths of a second separated Pigot from Dixon.

Newgarden, Power and Sato each landed in the top 10 despite causing red flags for spins in the tricky 11th and final bend which sends the drivers onto the Princes’ Boulevard frontstretch. Of the three, only Newgarden made contact with the concrete barrier, damaging his No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet. Newgarden crashed there while leading last year’s Toronto race, giving way to eventual winner Dixon — similar to what played out in Practice 1 this year.

Rookies Rosenqvist, Colton Herta and Marcus Ericsson plus Carlin debutant Sage Karam were the only drivers to lap the 1.786-mile racetrack more than 20 times. The fourth true rookie in the field, Santino Ferrucci, completed 18 revolutions and placed 18th out of 22 in his first session at the venue. Karam was 22nd, nearly three seconds off the pace.

The field will return to the track at 3:15 p.m. EDT for a second 45-minute practice that will lead into a final practice and qualifying Saturday.

Aaron Durant
Aaron Duranthttp://aarondurant.com
Aaron brings a developing design and editorial vision to The Apex every day and co-hosts The Braking Point podcast every week. As editor-in-chief and an avid reader, Aaron enjoys aligning his relentless care for quality with an interest in counterintuitive approaches.

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Alexander Rossi in Andretti Indy car on 2019 Belle Isle pit lane

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