Pagenaud powers to pole position in Toronto

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Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar

Team Penske‘s Simon Pagenaud has taken pole position for this weekend’s 2019 NTT IndyCar Series Honda Indy Toronto. Pagenaud took pole position at the last moment in the final session, denying Chip Ganassi Racing a front-row lock-out with Scott Dixon and Felix Rosenqvist.

Heading into the final round of qualifying, all six drivers who advanced potentially had the pace to be on pole position, with all six having been right at the sharp end of the time-sheets at various points in practice or the early round of qualifying.

After the first runs of the final session, Ganassi’s Dixon, last year’s winner in Toronto, looked to have the upper hand with the provisional pole time. Team-mate Felix Rosenqvist all but matched him to move up into second place on his qualifying lap, with Dixon then underlining his pace on his second run to go even faster with a lap-time of 58.4293.

After setting a new fastest lap, Dixon carried on to see if he could find any more speed on the next lap. However, his run did not last long at all. He would spin his #9 Honda shortly after starting his last lap, but luckily as nobody behind him would be starting a flying lap, he would not receive a penalty for impeding or causing a red flag.

Despite the luck of avoiding a potential penalty, Dixon would still feel some pain as a result of his spin. As he was unable to complete his final planned lap, he had no way to respond to Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, who would cross the line to go a tenth of a second faster to take pole position away.

Nobody else was able to match Pagenaud’s lap-time of a 58.4293, thus securing Simon his second Toronto pole in the last three years. Pagenaud, who sits third in the championship standings at the moment, will be hoping to take a victory tomorrow to try and reduce the gap to championship-leaders Josef Newgarden and Alexander Rossi.

Credit: Shawn Gritzmacher / Courtesy of IndyCar

Chip Ganassi Racing were denied a front-row lock-out by Penske’s pole-sitter Pagenaud. Instead, Scott Dixon will start in second place with rookie team-mate Felix Rosenqvist just behind in third place. Dixon will be hoping to make it back-to-back wins in Canada tomorrow having won this race twelve months ago. Rosenqvist, on the other hand, will be looking for his first IndyCar victory having previously won on the streets of Toronto back in Indy Lights.

Andretti Autosport‘s Alexander Rossi was disappointed to qualify in fourth place. The Californian made a mistake on his final flying lap and touched the wall with his left-rear tyre, thus forcing him to abandon the rest of the lap due to damage. He seemed visibly angry on his way back to the pits as he smacked his steering wheel.

A similar issue befell Penske’s Josef Newgarden. He hit the wall with his right-rear tyre and was forced to abandon the final session of qualifying early. He will start in fifth place. The final driver to make it into the pole position shoot-out was Ed Carpenter Racing‘s Ed Jones, who put in a sublime lap in the first round of qualifying to set the fastest lap-time of anybody. He didn’t have the pace to fight for pole in the final session, but he will be massively satisfied heading into the race tomorrow.

Marco Andretti missed out on advancing through to the final round of qualifying by a fraction of a second. He will start in seventh place; which is a marked improvement in pace compared to the last few races.

In the final practice session prior to qualifying, Dale Coyne Racing‘s Sebastien Bourdais and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing‘s Takuma Sato came to blows after a disagreement out on the race track. Bourdais passed Sato on an out-lap during the session, which seemed to anger Sato enough to see Takuma confront Sebastien in the pit-lane after the session. The pair shoved each other numerous times before being separated.

The pair were not separated by much once qualifying concluded. Bourdais will start in eighth place, with Sato two places back in tenth. Ed Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot will act as a referee for the pair, as he qualifying between them in ninth place.

Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal were the final two drivers who made it out of the first round of qualifying. An impressive performance from Carlin‘s Max Chilton saw the British driver narrowly miss out on advancing through to the second round. He will start in thirteenth place, one of his best qualifying results in recent races.

The home fans will be hoping for a storming drive for Canadian James Hinchcliffe in tomorrow’s race. The Arrow Schmidt Peterson driver failed to advance out of the first round of qualifying and will start down in thirteenth place. His team-mate, Marcus Ericsson, also failed to advance and will start way down the order in twentieth place.

Perhaps the shock of the session came early on when Penske’s Will Power failed to advance into the second round of qualifying. The Australian looked confident heading into the session but will start way down in fourteenth place after admitting that his team may have gone the wrong way with his car setup. Power has not failed to advance out of the first round of qualifying in four years, having last been eliminated this early in the 2015 Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Harding Steinbrenner Racing‘s Colton Herta was a similarly large scalp in the first session of qualifying. He will start just behind Power in fifteenth place, just ahead of fellow rookie Santino Ferrucci in sixteenth place.

Further back, Sage Karam will start in twenty-first place on his return to an IndyCar street circuit race. He set the slowest time of qualifying but has continued to get faster and faster as the weekend went on. Due to the format of qualifying, however, Karam will not start last. That unfortunate accolade goes to Tony Kanaan, who set a faster lap-time than Karam but was in the larger first group of qualifying.

So Simon Pagenaud will start on pole position for tomorrow’s race on the streets of Toronto. The last time he started on pole was in the Indianapolis 500 two months ago. He won that race from pole and will be hoping to do so again tomorrow. Meanwhile, Josef Newgarden will be looking to maintain or extend his slim advantage in the championship standings over Alexander Rossi.

Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar

2019 NTT IndyCar Series – Honda Indy Toronto – Qualifying results:

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