Saturday, July 20, 2019

Pagenaud Backs Up Friday Speed in Final Toronto Practice

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Speeds were up considerably during Saturday morning practice on the streets of Exhibition Place with 12 NTT IndyCar Series drivers turning laps quicker than one minute but none as fast as Simon Pagenaud.

The Team Penske driver’s 59.3651 lap in the No. 22 DXC Technology Chevrolet improved on his chart-topping Friday time by more than a half second. While not yet approaching his own track record of 58.9124 set in 2017, Pagenaud has remained the class of the field in pre-qualifying practice.

Felix Rosenqvist, who has previously demonstrated street course prowess, propelled his No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda to the second-fastest lap at just 0.0702 seconds slower than Pagenaud. Rosenqvist’s effort led the way for the Japanese engine manufacturer, whose drivers locked out positions two through nine.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, responsible for one of two red flags during the 45-minute session, ensured the Andretti Autosport outfit he represents joined other “big three” teams Penske and Ganassi atop the running order as the fastest pilot among Michael Andretti’s all-American lineup.

Santino Ferrucci and Colton Herta completed the top five, adding two of IndyCar’s smaller teams in Dale Coyne Racing and Harding Steinbrenner Racing to the group and showing impressive speed given their rookie status.

Colton Herta laps Toronto IndyCar street circuit in 2019 practice times
Harding Steinbrenner Racing’s rookie driver set the fifth-fastest Practice 3 lap but was only the third-best rookie. | Photo: Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media

Marco Andretti, Alexander Rossi, Sebastien Bourdais and James Hinchcliffe ended the session in sixth through ninth ahead of Ed Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot who was Chevrolet’s second-fastest driver in 10th.

Minutes after Hunter-Reay slid into the Turn 8 tire barrier when approaching the alternate start/finish line before the pit lane entrance, Graham Rahal buried his own Honda into the Turn 1 tires, causing the session’s second pause. Roughly four minutes were on the clock at the time of the incident, prompting INDYCAR to allow drivers a final timed lap.

Despite Pagenaud’s success, Penske’s Hitachi and Verizon cars of Josef Newgarden and Will Power placed 13th and 14th in Practice 3, more than seven-tenths of a second off their teammate’s pace. Similarly, Rosenqvist was second fastest while his veteran teammate Scott Dixon languished in 15th, 0.7549 seconds off Pagenaud’s mark to beat.

While every other Andretti car returned to pit lane placed seventh or better, Zach Veach was 21st with a best lap 1.6416 seconds slower than Pagenaud’s. Only Carlin debutant Sage Karam was slower, by 0.3853 seconds.

The 22-car field will be back in action for three rounds of knockout qualifying Saturday at 2 p.m. EDT to set the grid for Sunday’s 85-lap race. Qualifying will be live on NBCSN.

Ben Hinc
Ben Hinchttp://www.benhinc.com
Ben's executive editor title is purposefully broad to encompass the bottomless list of roles he fills for The Apex, which includes webmaster, graphic designer, quality consultant and writer. Ben's technical background and progressive media distribution approach set The Apex apart technologically and philosophically.

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

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