Dixon and Pagenaud fastest on Friday in Toronto

by Jordan Groves

Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud have taken the fastest times in the two Friday practice sessions ahead of this weekend’s 2019 NTT IndyCar Series Honda Indy Toronto. Dixon was fastest in the first session on the Canadian streets, with Pagenaud lowering the fastest lap in the second session to take first place.

In the first of two Friday practice sessions for the Honda Indy Toronto, Chip Ganassi Racing showed great speed. Reigning series champion and last year’s Toronto race winner, Scott Dixon, had a clean and productive session and set the fastest lap time with a 1:01.0723. His fastest lap came towards the end of the session as the drivers made their routine late-runs on the faster alternate tyre compound.

Dixon’s best lap would see him finish the session two-tenths of a second faster than championship leader Josef Newgarden in second-place. Newgarden’s session did not go exactly to plan after he spun and was forced to miss five minutes of running due to causing a session stoppage. Newgarden would also go on to brush a wall later in the session, causing minor damage to his #2 Team Penske Chevrolet in the process.

Dixon’s team-mate, rookie Felix Rosenqvist, backed up Chip Ganassi Racing’s pace by setting the third-fastest time, with the Swede returning to the track where he secured a brace of Indy Lights wins a few years ago.

Newgarden’s main rivals in the championship at the moment, Alexander Rossi and Simon Pagenaud, set the fourth and fifth fastest times of the session respectively; with the top five drivers all covered by under half a second.

Ryan Hunter-Reay took the sixth-fastest time of the opening session, with Penske’s Will Power just behind in seventh place after a difficult session. The Australian was one of the numerous drivers to spin during the session, with turn eleven looking to be a potential danger spot for the remainder of the weekend. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing‘s Takuma Sato also came unstuck at turn eleven. He ended the session in ninth place after his spin, with Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais placing between Power and Sato in eighth place.

Spencer Pigot rounded out the top ten in the opening session. The top ten were separated by just seven-tenths of a second, with the top fourteen cars all within a second of Dixon’s best lap.

The rookie drivers in the field, other than the aforementioned Rosenqvist, placed further down the order. Harding Steinbrenner Racing‘s Colton Herta was fifteenth-fastest, with Santino Ferrucci and Marcus Ericsson further back in eighteenth and nineteenth respectively.

Bookending the session was a returning driver to the championship. Sage Karam was twenty-second fastest as he got back up to speed with racing in the NTT IndyCar Series on a street circuit. He will be hoping to gain ground in the #31 Carlin Chevrolet during the remaining sessions leading up to Sunday’s race.

Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar

2019 NTT IndyCar Series – Honda Indy Toronto – Practice one top twelve results:

19Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing1:01.0723
22Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske1:01.2138
310Felix Rosenqvist (R)SWEChip Ganassi Racing1:01.2395
427Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport1:01.3843
522Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske1:01.4969
628Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport1:01.6702
712Will PowerAUSTeam Penske1:01.6841
818Sebastien BourdaisFRADale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan1:01.7180
930Takuma SatoJAPRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing1:01.8080
1021Spencer PigotUSAEd Carpenter Racing1:01.8286
1198Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Herta1:01.8747
1215Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing1:01.8883

Full results of practice can be found by clicking the following link: http://www.imscdn.com/INDYCAR/Documents/5610/2019-07-12/indycar-results-p1.pdf

Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar

As expected, the lap times got quicker and quicker in the second session of practice of the day. By the end of the session, Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud had set the fastest time and had become one of just three drivers to break the one minute barrier, setting a lap time of 59.8708-seconds.

Chip Ganassi Racing and, in particular, Felix Rosenqvist, remained competitive and towards the top of the time-sheets in the second session. Rosenqvist set the second-fastest time with a lap time that was just six-hundredths of a second slower than the best time from Pagenaud. Sebastien Bourdais was the third and final driver to break the one-minute barrier, with the top three separated by just over a tenth of a second.

Spencer Pigot showed decent pace for Ed Carpenter Racing, setting the fourth-fastest time. The first practice pace-setter, Scott Dixon, took the final spot in the top five; with Ganassi continuing to show potentially ominous form heading into qualifying tomorrow and Sunday’s race.

Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti took the sixth and seventh best times of the session, with championship-leader Josef Newgarden just behind in eighth place. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Will Power completed the top ten, with Canadian home-hero James Hinchcliffe eleventh ahead of Colton Herta in twelfth.

Further back, it was a difficult session for Alexander Rossi. The Californian brushed the wall twice during the session and ended the day down in fourteenth place. He was still, however, with a second of Pagenaud’s best lap-time. Nevertheless, he will hope to be further up the order in qualifying tomorrow if he wants to trim Newgarden’s points advantage on Sunday.

Sage Karam continued to improve as he got to grips with the #31 Carlin Chevrolet. He was twenty-first fastest in the second session, with a best lap-time within two seconds of Pagenaud’s best. Twenty-second and last place went to Arrow Schmidt Peterson’s Marcus Ericsson, who was just three-hundredths of a second slower than Karam.

The teams and drivers will have one more practice session tomorrow morning before qualifying takes place. The race itself, the 2019 Honda Indy Toronto, will take place on Sunday afternoon.

Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar

2019 NTT IndyCar Series – Honda Indy Toronto – Practice one top twelve results:

122Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske59.8708
210Felix Rosenqvist (R)SWEChip Ganassi Racing59.9311
318Sebastien BourdaisFRADale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan59.9866
421Spencer PigotUSAEd Carpenter Racing1:00.0401
59Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing1:00.1445
615Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing1:00.4091
798Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Herta1:00.4435
82Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske1:00.4509
928Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport1:00.4696
1012Will PowerAUSTeam Penske1:00.4981
115James HinchcliffeCANArrow Schmidt Peterson1:00.6106
1288Colton Herta (R)USAHarding Steinbrenner Racing1:00.6756

Full results of practice can be found by clicking the following link: http://www.imscdn.com/INDYCAR/Documents/5611/2019-07-12/indycar-results-p2.pdf

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