2016 Honda Indy Toronto qualifying

_9SG8506-1Scott Dixon flies over the apex of Turn 5 during practice for the Honda Indy Toronto — Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher

Dixon uses extra lap to secure Honda Indy Toronto pole

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.

04CJ9269Scott Dixon claims the Verizon P1 Award for winning the pole position for the Honda Indy Toronto — Photo by: Chris Jones

Dixon, who won both ends of the 2013 Toronto doubleheader to launch a push to the third of his four Verizon IndyCar Series titles, planned to run two laps at speed in today’s Firestone Fast Six, the last of three 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.”

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?!”

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 RaceControl.IndyCar.com). 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 Krosnoff on 20th anniversary of his death

The 2016 Honda Indy Toronto marks the 20th anniversary of driver Jeff Krosnoff’s death in a crash during the race, which also claimed the life of track marshal Gary Avrin. Racer.com’s Marshall Pruett honored Krosnoff by resurrecting a six-part series he wrote on the driver’s life five years ago. Pruett graciously permitted IndyCar.com 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.”

Castroneves still on point as a dancer

Helio Castroneves and three students from the Oakville (Ontario) School of Classical Ballet turned heads in the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock with a few dance poses Friday. Dressed in tutus and tights, members of the youth dance company visited Team Penske’s compound for a meeting with Castroneves, the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and champion of the fifth season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

Castroneves is supporting the school’s “I’m on Point” campaign, created to introduce Oakville Ballet’s fall performance to new audiences by enlisting celebrities and prominent figures to endorse its Sept. 16-17 premiere. Castroneves’ celebrity dancing experience gave him an instant connection with the Oakville dancers.

“He was quite fun. He has a knowledge of dance, of course, because of ‘Dancing with the Stars,'” said Amanda Paterson, artistic director of Oakville Ballet, who helped pose the dancers and Castroneves for photos in front of his No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet. “He has worked with two dancers and he has a sense of how to balance the girls.”

Castroneves signed on to help the ballet, in part, because his sister, Kati, is a former professional ballerina in Brazil. He partnered with 14-year-old ballerina Rachel Mortensen for a ballet demonstration. As he supported her, she instructed him to push her forward and to the left so she could lift her leg into the correct position.

“She coached me and it was great,” said Castroneves. “The ballerina, the partner, it’s just like my race car. I need to be in sync with them so when I turn, I need to make sure that the car turns. If there’s a little bit of push, I end up in the wall.

“With them, the same thing. She was actually coaching me – ‘OK, move a little bit forward’ – so she can actually be, not only in a good pose, but it helps her to be nice and graceful. But the guy has to hold it without anyone seeing that he is sweating, like I am right now.”

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.

04CJ8755AJames Hinchcliffe crosses the start/finish line during practice for the Honda Indy Toronto — Photo by: Chris Jones

“What They’re Saying” from Honda Indy Toronto Qualifying

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “I’m really pleased with the result today. We got back into the Fast Six after two weeks of shot-gunning 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.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet): “I thought the DeVilbiss Chevy recovered well. It was tough in qualifying with the used tires, but I am happy with how we recovered from the weekend. We have a great race car and I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3. Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet): “What am I going to say? What am I going to say? I can’t believe it. What is it, two hundredths of a second? Congrats to them but the Shell Pennzoil Chevrolet car is really fast. We made a lot of change, I’m talking about a lot of change. All the changes we made seem to be working. Gosh! Come on, (Scott) Dixon! Really? Really? The first session was not good. All credit to (engineer) Jonathan (Diuguid). He hit the right spot on the car on the setup. The second I put the reds (alternate tires) on the second session, my car was like ‘Whoa. Back in the game here.’ When we went out again on the third one, about to repeat the same lap time we did on the first run. But again, we did not want to wait until the end, since the track always got a little bit better, we did not want to wait till the end because of a yellow or red flag coming out and then would have screwed up with our laps because we knew we were only dealing with two laps. Ganassi is not a rookie team. They’re champions. They know what they’re doing. Good job by Scott.”

MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Honda): “I think the SMP Racing crew did a good job with this session. Tenth place in qualifying isn’t the best position but it’s not the worst either. We know what we need to work on for tomorrow’s race, and the race is what really matters. We have 85 laps to move forward and that’s a long way, so we’re fine.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “I’m happy with the job I did and the rest of the team did, because I think I was the only rookie that hadn’t been on this track. To me this is the hardest race track I’ve ever driven to learn. There’s just zero grip on that concrete and it’s pretty tight and unforgiving. I think that was a decent job. We missed out on advancing by a tenth, but we’ve made huge progress throughout the weekend and I’m pretty happy with that.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet: “Well, I think it started with the first few laps. I was all down and out. I’m like, ‘Oh that doesn’t look so good.’ I couldn’t get my splits to go negative and the last lap and then we just crossed the line to get another lap. They are like, ‘Keep going, keep going’. Just gave it our all and the car just kept actually getting quicker. I think the Firestone tires finally came in. I was probably not as hard on them as I needed to be right out of the gate. So stoked for Team Target. It’s great to be back on the pole. We haven’t had a pole this year, but huge credit to the team they did a hell of a job this weekend. We struggled a little bit with speed. You’ve got to leave it to qualifying, that’s when it makes the most. But tomorrow is race day and hopefully we will put on a great show for all the fans here.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet): “That isn’t where we wanted to end up today in qualifying. We had a much better car in the No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet, but we were just struggling with understeer for most of that second round. The guys are going to change the engine tonight and get it ready to go for tomorrow’s warm-up. I think the race tomorrow is going to be an interesting one for sure, but we’ll get it right and hopefully make our move up to the front quickly.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Team Hydroxycut-KVSH Racing Chevrolet): “The Hydroxycut machine has been fast all weekend. We just didn’t get it done in qualifying. It is what it is. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot in the Firestone Fast Six. We only got one lap on our last run and we should have gotten two. I don’t think we could have taken the pole, but maybe the second row. Overall, I am happy to have made it to the Firestone Fast Six. We will see what we can do tomorrow.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “Well actually the last run there I let Helio (Castroneves) go and I went out in the marbles. Spent a lap and a half getting marbles off my tires, but still a good result, starting P4 for the Verizon Chevrolet. It is tough out there, easy to make mistakes, very slippery surfaces. Unless you get everything right you don’t get the lap time. (On track changes) I think it will be harder to actually follow in (Turn) 11 just because of how accurate you have to be not to hit the apex wall. The wall juts out a little bit. It’s going to be tough to get a run on someone there into (Turn) 1. You still got good passing zones in (Turn) 3. It makes it a more challenging track, honestly, the way it is right now.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “It was a disappointing result having had a strong practice session in the ABC Supply Honda yesterday. We seemed to struggle in practice this morning and now in qualifying. I don’t know why, we just couldn’t seem to get a good grip and good balance. We’re looking into the data now.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Rousseau Metal Honda): “I went for it on the last lap and I hit the fence. The car has been ill-handling. We’ve been in the top eight so I think it’s given us a false sense of security. I told the guys before the session that it was going to take a magic lap to advance and I knew it because our basic balance all weekend has been killing the rear tires. We can’t put power down at all. We lose 2.5 tenths (of a second) just in the hairpin because we can’t put power down and in Turn 6 we have a ton of under steer and, on the last lap in qualifying, I went for it, the car went straight and just tagged the wall. That lap wasn’t going to be better no matter what which is frustrating because these guys deserve better. We are struggling to make improvements this weekend so far. We’re going to throw the kitchen sink at it to hopefully improve for the race and get the Rousseau Metal Honda to the front.”

CONOR DALY (No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda): “It’s great to start seventh tomorrow! It’s our best starting position of the year. It feels great to be fighting for that top six and fighting right at the front of the Honda pack. It’s a little painful, and it a bit of shame, to be knocked out of the Firestone Fast Six by Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) but because it’s him it’s fine, he’s the hometown hero. I’m just happy with the progress that we’ve made. We keep improving from race to race and that’s what we have to keep doing. I can’t wait for tomorrow.”

LUCA FILIPPI (No. 19 IMPCO ComfortPro Honda): “It’s a good team result but I’m not happy for myself because I could have done much better and possibly been more or less where Conor (Daly) is. But we caught a train of traffic that came out in front of me, and with these tires, you can’t afford too many laps on those. That said, the potential is good so we can do well and better in the race. We just have to watch out for the start tomorrow and from there we can work our way up and have a strong race.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “I’m disappointed to qualify where we did, we were obviously hoping to be a little bit higher up the grid but it didn’t happen that way. We’ll try and make the best of it tomorrow and see what we can do differently. It’s a long race and it’s usually pretty crazy with some big passing zones, so hopefully we can make up a few spots and have a clean race. Big thanks to all the guys at Ed Carpenter Racing, Fuzzy’s Vodka and Rising Star Racing for all their hard work.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services/ECR Chevrolet): “It’s always great being here, so many fans come out and see us. Thanks everyone in Toronto for supporting the Verizon IndyCar Series I love running here. We’re battling the speed aspect of it. I think we have a great car. We were just missing some grip there with that last set of tires. We were a bit stronger on our first qualifying run. I’m not sure quite what we need at the moment, we’re good in some sections but weak in others. We need to try and solve that problem. I have a lot of faith with ECR and the Preferred Freezer crew, we should be able to get on it tomorrow.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet): “The PPG car was tremendous all weekend. Kind of missed the balance a little bit. Q1 was fantastic. We started picking up quite a bit of understeer. We couldn’t really adjust the car anymore for the round. We start a little bit of pace starting in Q2. We gambled on the black tires in the end, which I thought could have worked actually. (Scott) Dixon coming out of pits in front of me, it was a little difficult for me. It broke me out of my rhythm. It’s not him. He didn’t block me or anything. It just took me out of my rhythm a little bit and I didn’t extract the best out of the car that lap. That should have been the lap that did it. You should always be happy when you’re in the Firestone Fast Six. Third is a good place to start. Last time we won we were third with the PPG car, so I’m happy.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): “Another bad qualifying for the team. Personally, I think I got everything I could out of the car. It’s not like we are not trying; we are trying everything we can. As a team we are working really hard to be back in the front. It’s Toronto… Anything can happen tomorrow and maybe with a little bit of luck we can get up front. We are still working on it and will never give up.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Dr Pepper Honda): “(Qualifying is) a tough one to talk about. We are just lacking grip all around. I did a stint on (the Firestone alternate) reds and it felt like I was on blacks. We need to find more grip for not just the Dr Pepper car, but for the team.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “What we’re missing is overall grip and compliance – it’s so important on a track like this. We’re not even on the same planet as the frontrunners right now when it comes to grip. You can just watch them through (Turns) 9 and 10 in front of the pits. You can watch all of our cars, it just seems like we’re really fighting the cars. When you’re talking about something as close as the two-tenths (of a second) we needed to advance, it’s just so hard to put a lap together when you don’t have enough grip to deal with it. We’ll look at it, but all our cars are together (on the grid). As a team we have to work on it, because we shouldn’t be here. It’s really unfortunate; it’s not fun at the moment.”

JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply/AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “Really disappointing qualifying, a kick in the gut really. We were fast this morning and very quick on the blacks in qualifying but when we put the reds on, we picked up a bit too much understeer and missed out advancing by a fraction of a second. Disappointed but the ABC Supply Honda was strong on the blacks and has been strong all weekend. We’re starting in the middle of the pack so hopefully we can have a solid race. We look forward to tomorrow because we have a fast car.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chevrolet): “I’m a little disappointed with that result, but I’m really proud of the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing guys and the work they did last night on the car after I made contact with the wall in the last practice session. The No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chevrolet was great this morning, but I just seemed to miss it a little bit on qualifying trying to get the grip and lap time out of those alternate Firestones. I know we’ve got good tires and a great car tomorrow, now we just need to put together a good strategy to get up front.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda): “It was a pretty abysmal qualifying, I think. We went in with high hopes after the final practice this morning but nothing seemed to come together this afternoon. It’s very disappointing to have to start where we do, especially on a track that is challenging to make a pass. We’re going to need a bit of luck on our side tomorrow.”

Honda Indy Toronto qualifying results

TORONTO – Qualifying Saturday for the Honda Indy Toronto Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.786-mile(s) Exhibition Place circuit, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (9) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 59.9073 (107.326)
2. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 59.9425 (107.263)
3. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 01:00.2293 (106.752)
4. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:00.4085 (106.435)
5. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 01:00.4221 (106.411)
6. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 01:01.5637 (104.438)
7. (18) Conor Daly, Honda, 01:00.5693 (106.153)
8. (21) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:00.5885 (106.119)
9. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 01:00.6532 (106.006)
10. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 01:00.6635 (105.988)
11. (19) Luca Filippi, Honda, 01:00.7784 (105.788)
12. (10) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 01:00.8561 (105.653)
13. (41) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 01:00.6930 (105.936)
14. (8) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 01:00.6372 (106.034)
15. (26) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 01:00.7712 (105.800)
16. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:00.7088 (105.909)
17. (83) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 01:00.9060 (105.566)
18. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 01:00.8721 (105.625)
19. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:01.2087 (105.044)
20. (14) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:01.4012 (104.715)
21. (20) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 01:01.3360 (104.826)
22. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 01:01.4384 (104.651)

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