Pagenaud Holds Off Dixon for First Toronto Win

A flawless run from the pole position in a nearly uninterrupted running of the Honda Indy Toronto made Simon Pagenaud the first driver to win on all three types of NTT IndyCar Series circuits in 2019 and allowed him to make up ground in the championship with six races to go.

Second-place starter Scott Dixon pursued the current Indianapolis 500 champion all race long but was unable to mount an attack during most of the first half of the 85-lap contest as multiple off-strategy cars lapped between Pagenaud and the PNC Bank Honda following a Lap 1 crash.

No longer separated by cars on separate strategies, Pagenaud and Dixon were together on track after pitting simultaneously on Lap 51. Dixon attempted to reel in the Frenchman lap after lap with Ryan Hunter-Reay lapping ahead of them on his way to finishing 16th.

Hunter-Reay pulled off the 11-turn circuit for his final pit stop on Lap 72, leaving the leaders to battle for the victory with less traffic. Well before that, Dixon had pulled to within one second of the pole sitter and leader and continued his pursuit until the final lap, which began with 1.5 seconds between these top two.

Unfortunately for the reigning series champion, Dixon’s time stalking Pagenaud was cut short when Pagenaud’s Team Penske stablemate overcooked Turn 8 and nosed his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet into the tire bundle, bringing out the race’s second full-course caution on the final lap after causing the first caution on the opening lap.

Dixon followed Pagenaud through the final three turns and to the start/finish line on Princes’ Boulevard, unable to pass under the circuit-wide yellow flag. Pagenaud was able to stay off the throttle for his final trip through the final sequence of corners — ignoring the low-fuel indicator that came on during the final lap — and cruised to the checkered flag with no further challenge from his fellow veteran, officially winning by 0.1373 seconds.

Zach Veach and Takuma Sato were the only other drivers to lead laps during the 152-mile event. With those drivers finishing 13th and 22nd having led just five total laps, Pagenaud effectively avoided challenge during his flawless drive which involved leading the 80 others and led to his 14th career win.

The victory is Pagenaud’s first since the Indy 500 in May and, factoring in his first win of the year on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, makes Pagenaud the first driver to win on a road course, oval and street circuit this year.

PNC Bank Ganassi Honda Indy car laps Indy Toronto racetrack
Five-time Indy car titlist Scott Dixon spent Sunday pursuing Simon Pagenaud in IndyCar’s only Canadian race of the year. | Photo: Jamie Sheldrick / Spacesuit Media

Dixon battled more than tennis elbow — ailing him since at least the previous race at Road America — during this year’s race on the challenging Exhibition Place street circuit as contact with the wall early on bent his steering, forcing him to drive with an angled steering wheel, making his run to the middle step of the podium an impressive one.

Championship contender Alexander Rossi held off championship leader Josef Newgarden to bank third-place points while Newgarden’s advantage in the standings was slashed to four. Pagenaud entered the weekend with a 61-point deficit to Newgarden and Rossi but is now within 39.

Felix Rosenqvist is out of championship discussion during his rookie season but turned his third-place start into his third top-five finish, taking the checkers 20 seconds behind veteran pilots Pagenaud, Dixon, Rossi and Newgarden.

Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports experienced a special day with Robert Wickens saluting his fans in a hand control-equipped Acura NSX before the race’s start, Marcus Ericsson making his Toronto debut and James Hinchcliffe making up eight positions to go from 14th on the grid to sixth on the results in front of his hometown fans. Ericsson finished four laps down in 20th after spending multiple laps in his pit box for repairs following his involvement in the Lap 1 incident that also involved Power, Graham Rahal, Marco Andretti, Hunter-Reay and Matheus Leist.

After Colton Herta and Sebastien Bourdais in seventh and eighth, Rahal and Andretti recovered from the melee to finish ninth and 10th.

His multiple meetings with the Turn 8 tires caused Power to languish in the 18th position on the race results at two laps down from his victorious teammate. Only Leist, Ericsson, Carlin debutant Sage Karam and Takuma Sato — last due to an engine fire on Lap 68 — are scored worse than Power.

The Iowa 300 will see the title fight continue next weekend in Newton, Iowa. The first short oval race of the year, to be held under the lights at Iowa Speedway on Saturday, July 20, will begin at 6:35 p.m. CDT.

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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