Practice Speed Translates to Toronto Pole for Pagenaud


Setting the mark to beat in two of the weekend’s three practice sessions put Simon Pagenaud on a trajectory that led to the pole position for this year’s edition of the Honda Indy Toronto.

The Frenchman driving for Roger Penske placed second in his Round 1 group and fifth in Round 2, punching his ticket to the Firestone Fast Six for just his second time of 2019.

In the closing seconds of the Fast Six, 2018 Toronto winner Scott Dixon held the provisional pole but spun at Turn 10 after beginning what would’ve been a final flying lap. As the clock ran out and the five other drivers returned to pit lane, Dixon avoided a penalty for causing a red flag but sat motionless facing the concrete barrier in his PNC Bank Honda when Pagenaud took over atop the running order on his final lap.

The Chip Ganassi Racing leader will start second at Toronto for the second consecutive year after falling 0.1655 seconds short of Pagenaud’s pace on the lap that preceded his spin.

Completing a tour of the tight temporary street circuit around Toronto’s Exhibition Place in 58.4293, Pagenaud and the No. 22 DXC Technology Chevrolet overcame not just 21 other drivers but Pagenaud’s own circuit record, a 58.9124 set in 2017 — the third and final Toronto race with high-downforce manufacturer aero kits.

Last time Pagenaud started first, he won the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Dixon’s Ganassi stablemate and first-time Toronto IndyCar starter Felix Rosenqvist earned a third-place starting position, perhaps drawing from two dozen ABB FIA Formula E Championship starts on the tightest venue on the calendar for North America’s premier open-wheel championship.

Slapping the wall on his final flying lap, Alexander Rossi qualified fourth, half a second off Pagenaud’s pace. Rossi reported on NBCSN after climbing from his car that the final lap would only have been good enough for third.

Beyond pole winner Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden and Ed Jones also represented Chevrolet in the Fast Six but both landed at the bottom of the running order, only coming within 0.881 and 1.106 seconds of the pole time on their respective best laps.

Ed Jones speeds on Toronto Exhibition Place Grand Prix track
Ed Jones participated in the Firestone Fast Six for Ed Carpenter Racing, whose cars will start sixth and ninth in Sunday’s race. | Photo: Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media

Marco Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais, Spencer Pigot, Takuma Sato, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal missed out on participating in the Fast Six in one of the most competitive qualifying processions of the year thus far. This collection of drivers will start from the fourth, fifth and six rows Sunday afternoon.

Notable poor qualifiers were Will Power and Santino Ferrucci. Power missed the round of 12 for his first time since Long Beach in 2015 by placing eighth in Group 1 of Round 1 while Dale Coyne Racing’s rookie driver will start directly behind Power in 17th — Power qualified 15th — after missing the braking point entering Turn 1 on his final flying lap in the same group.

In his first non-oval race since 2015, Carlin one-off Sage Karam will share the 11th and final row with last-place qualifier Tony Kanaan.

A warm-up outing just after noon Sunday will mark the IndyCar field’s final opportunity to turn laps before the green flag flies at 3:42 p.m. EDT for the final street race of the year. NBCSN’s live telecast will open at 3 p.m.

Aaron Durant
Aaron Durant
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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