Archive for July 16, 2016

Scott Dixon flies over the apex of Turn 5 during practice for the Honda IndyCar Toronto -- Image by Shawn Gritzmacher

Scott Dixon flies over the apex of Turn 5 during practice for the Honda IndyCar Toronto — Image by Shawn Gritzmacher


TORONTO (Saturday, July 16, 2016) – Scott Dixon took advantage of a welcome bonus lap in qualifying and used it to score the Verizon P1 Award for the Honda Indy Toronto.

Dixon’s fast lap of 59.9073 seconds (107.326 mph) in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, the final lap of the session, earned his first pole of 2016 and 24th of his career, snapping a tie for 12th place on the all-time Indy car list with Johnny Rutherford. The reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion will lead the field to the green flag in Sunday’s 85-lap event, the 32nd Indy car race on the storied 1.786-mile temporary street course.

Dixon, who won both ends of the 2013 Toronto doubleheader to launch a push to the 3rd of his 4 Verizon IndyCar Series titles, planned to run 2 laps at speed in today’s Firestone Fast Six, the last of 3 rounds of knockout qualifying. But he was able to cross the timing line a precious few seconds ahead of the checkered flag to earn another lap. With clear track ahead, the 35-year-old New Zealander sped to the top of the chart.

 “Each lap kept getting better,” Dixon said. “We made the timeline by a second to get the extra lap. Just kept getting negatives on the splits (showing he was on pole pace). Gave up a little bit in Turn 8; obviously just enough to bump pole. “We caught the timeline at the right point, that’s it. Worked out nicely for a change.”

Helio Castroneves reacts after being nipped for the pole position for the Honda Indy Toronto -- Image by Chris Jones

Helio Castroneves reacts after being nipped for the pole position for the Honda Indy Toronto — Image by Chris Jones

Dixon’s effort prevented Helio Castroneves from winning a second Toronto pole. Castroneves’ best lap of 59.9425 seconds (107.263 mph) places him on the outside of Row 1 in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet.

“What am I going to say? I can’t believe it,” Castroneves said. “What is it, (four) hundredths of a second? Congrats to them but the Shell Pennzoil Chevrolet car is really fast.

“Gosh! Come on, Dixon! Really? Really?!”

Honda Indy Toronto Qual Results

Simon Pagenaud, the 2016 championship leader who has advanced to the Firestone Fast Six at all seven road/street courses this year and won five poles, qualified third in the No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet (1:00.2293, 106.752 mph). Teammate Will Power, a two-time Toronto race winner, earned the fourth spot in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet (1:00.4085, 106.435 mph).

Sebastien Bourdais, also a two-time Toronto winner, equaled his best 2016 qualifying effort of fifth in the No. 11 Team Hydroxycut-KVSH Racing Chevy (1:00.4221, 106.411 mph), with local hero James Hinchcliffe sixth in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda (1:01.5637, 104,438 mph). For Hinchcliffe, it’s the best qualifying performance in seven Toronto starts.

“I’m really pleased with the result today,” said Hinchcliffe, from nearby Oakville, Ontario. “We got back into the Fast Six after two weeks of shotgunning the field. It’s kind of nice to be back at the sharp end of the grid.

“The Arrow Electronics guys did a great job. It’s such a tough track out here with the conditions, the surface changes, the bumps obviously, but they did what they had to do and gave me a car that could get up there. I’m proud of all of them and hopefully the best starting spot I’ve ever had here turns into the best finish I’ve ever had here.”

Dale Coyne Racing drivers Conor Daly and Luca Filippi impressed by qualifying seventh and 11th, respectively. For Daly in the No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda, it was a career-best qualifying effort in his 17th race. Filippi will make his season-best start after being out of the No. 19 IMPCO ComfortPro Honda for nearly two months, last racing at Barber Motorsports Park in April.

The Verizon IndyCar Series returns for a final 30-minute warmup session at 10:30 a.m. ET Sunday (streamed live on Race coverage starts at 2:30 p.m. ET on CNBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, with a telecast re-air at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Remembering Jeff Krosnoff on 20th anniversary of his death

jeffkrosnoff2The 2016 Honda Indy Toronto marks the 20th anniversary of driver Jeff Krosnoff’s death in a race crash, which also claimed the life of track marshal Gary Avrin.’s Marshall Pruett honored Krosnoff by resurrecting a 6-part series he wrote on the driver’s life 5 years ago. Pruett graciously permitted to share memories of Krosnoff from friends and fellow competitors.

Krosnoff was a 31-year-old Indy car rookie who competed in just 11 races with Arciero-Wells Racing in the CART series before his untimely death July 14, 1996. He had built credibility as a factory driver in other racing disciplines with the likes of Toyota, Nissan and Jaguar before getting a chance to drive an Indy car.

Along the way, Krosnoff earned a host of admirers for his determination, typified by his motto to “Stay Hungry.” Mike Hull is the managing director at Chip Ganassi Racing Teams and has been working in Indy car racing for nearly four decades. He said today’s drivers would be wise to emulate Krosnoff.

“What Jeff represented to me was a guy that went out every day and got the most from what was given to him,” Hull said. “And I think he was a success, very much a success, and showed the way that race drivers should represent themselves. Because if he was having a good day, he was getting the most out of it. If his day wasn’t as successful, he was still getting the most from it.

“That’s what I truly enjoyed about him was that positive attitude makes such a difference when you’re working within a team environment,” Hull continued. “You want somebody that’s out there trying their darndest to get the most out of it in a very positive manner, and that was Jeff Krosnoff.”

Bryan Herta, now co-owner of the Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian entry driven by Alexander Rossi, was in his third season as an Indy car driver in 1996 when he competed with Krosnoff.

“At the time,” Herta said, “you don’t think that he’s just going to have a handful of races to be judged by after all these years. You think that he’s working with a new team, a good team, but one that was still developing and a new engine that needs developing. … You just didn’t really dwell on what he had right then because you expected a lot more to be right around the corner for him to show what he could really do. Unfortunately, that never happened for him.”

Mazda Road to Indy Results

Felix Rosenqvist (Belardi Auto Racing) led all 35 laps to win an incident-filled Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race, the first of a weekend doubleheader. Points leader Ed Jones (Carlin) finished sixth. … Victor Franzoni (ArmsUp Motorsports) jumped pole sitter Anthony Martin at the start and led all 22 laps to win the first of two Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda races this weekend.