Dixon also leads 2nd IndyCar practice (Update)

Scott Dixon
Scott Dixon

UPDATE Story completed below

07/13/18 Scott Dixon led a Honda 1-2-3-4-5 in practice Friday for the Honda Indy Toronto. It's obvious that Dixon's crew has found something because his lap of 59.075s was 4/10ths up on the next three drivers — Takuma Sato, Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal.

Alexander Rossi was 5th quick 5/10ths behind Dixon as speeds were up over last year by 8/10ths of a second – Friday time in 2017 was 1m00.257s.

"The PNC Bank car rolled off really fast off the truck and I expect the competition to continue to be really tough," said Dixon, who was nearly a half-second better than the field and complimented racetrack officials for repaving some rougher portions of the circuit prior to this weekend. "We put a good lap together on the red Firestone (alternate) tires today, but I expect a lot more drivers to do that tomorrow for qualifying, so we'll have to wait and see what happens here in Toronto for the pole."

Spencer Pigot, fresh off a career-best second-place finish last week at Iowa Speedway, was the top Chevrolet driver in practice. The Ed Carpenter Racing driver circled the streets of Exhibition Place in 59.6350 seconds in the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Chevrolet.

Newgarden, the defending Toronto race winner and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion, was seventh overall at 59.6383 seconds in the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.

A third practice takes place starting at 9:50 a.m. ET Saturday, ahead of Verizon P1 Award knockout qualifying at 1:55 p.m. Both Saturday sessions stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com, youtube.com/indycar and the INDYCAR Mobile app. Qualifying also airs on a same-day delay at 5 p.m. on NBCSN.

The Honda Indy Toronto, the 12th of 17 races this season, airs live at 3 p.m. Sunday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Track Upgrade

With new pavement adorning the start/finish straight at the Honda Indy Toronto, the bumps that made Turn 1 a bone-jarring experience are history.

Despite the pounding they gave drivers over the years, two-time Toronto winner Sebastien Bourdais almost felt a bit nostalgic after seeing the new asphalt at the Exhibition Place street circuit on Thursday when drivers and crews made their track walk.

“I will miss the bumps in general, but not the big one that was developing in the middle of the braking zone," said Bourdais who drives the No. 18 Team Mouser Electronics/Molex Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan.

“That one was just super, super annoying, random, complicated — sometimes you made it through OK and others you were getting air. There's bumpy and there's ‘a problem,’ and that one was a problem."

The new pavement covers the length of the front straight and ends where the concrete patch in the middle of first turn begins. Most drivers thought the paving crew did a good job with the transitions between the new asphalt and the concrete, which appear nearly seamless with no big rises or drops. The drain cover on the inside of Turn 1 remains in place. The short stretch from Turn 8 to just past the entry to the pit lane has also been resurfaced.

AR1 spoke with Scott Dixon, the points leader that has won the this race twice, about the track changes. "The front straight has been repaved. It is a lot smoother. They did a bit of repave here on turn 11. Gradually the track is getting quite smooth, which is nice. The concrete patches make it difficult but that is kinda what a street course is. The transition from very high grip braking, smooth into turn 1 and then going on the concrete is definitely very slippery."

AR1 also spoke with Ed Jones, Dixon's teammate at Ganassi racing, about the track conditions. "A few of the curbs are slightly different. Apparently they did not put the track exactly back where it was being a street course. It is a lot smoother with some of the improvements. The new car is good and challenging on this track. It is surprising the times are much quicker than last year due to the track changes."

Quotes

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was a long day, for sure. I think we made really good progress. The No. 1 Hitachi Chevy is going forward, which is a good thing; we're finding some speed from Session 1 to Session 2. We just need to make a similar jump tomorrow. I think if we can do the same thing, we should be sitting pretty good for qualifying. It's a tough track. It's very fast, much quicker than it was last year at this time in the weekend. We just have to stay on top of it and keep moving forward, but I'm proud of our effort and I think we have a good chance to capitalize here this weekend."

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "I think we went through a lot of stuff and managed to test a lot of things, so I think it was a positive day. Practice 1 was pretty good. I finished P9. Second practice, unfortunately, my (fast) lap was under red flag or we would have been 15th, but anyway, I still have some work to do. I think if we find a couple tenths, we're going to be in the game. It's such a cool place to drive. I'm looking forward to qualifying and the race."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): "Today was OK. Obviously, there's a lot to learn coming to a street circuit with a new car. They've done some paving work to the track, which is another curveball to throw us, but the Arrow Electronics team did a solid job. We didn't get the best run on reds (Firestone alternate tires), and we had a problem with my seatbelt on my fast lap. We'll take a look at the data we got today and talk it over with Robbie (Robert Wickens) and the No. 6 guys and make sure we can put on a good performance tomorrow for the hometown crowd."

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): "It feels good to be here in Toronto – the fans have been great. Earlier today, we had the autograph session and there were so many people from Guelph; it's been amazing to have all the support. Practice didn't go super well for us. The Lucas Oil crew and I definitely have some work to do overnight."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "A big shout out to the people here who look after the track. They've worked really hard and Turn 1 alone is going to create a lot of great racing. There are a lot of great updates. The PNC Bank car rolled off really fast off the truck and I expect the competition to continue to be really tough. We put a good lap together on the red Firestone (alternate) tires today, but I expect a lot more drivers to do that tomorrow for qualifying, so we'll have to wait and see what happens here in Toronto for the pole."

ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "I'm happy with the way we unloaded with the NTT DATA car. We have speed and I'm excited about this weekend, especially after how we performed on the last street races in Detroit. The track is a lot smoother with the repaving, which is nice. I think the biggest thing we need to work on is getting the car to handle over the bumps out there."

Will Power
Will Power

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "We didn't get a very good run on reds (Firestone alternate tires). Unfortunately, I scraped the wall and bent a tow link, so had to change that, and then kind of ran out of time. But we're in a good window apart from (Scott) Dixon. He's just got the whole field covered by a mile, but I think the No. 12 Verizon Chevy is right there in that front group."

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "It was a good day for us. It didn't help that I got a 10-minute penalty at the end because the track always gets better and we had to put our (Firestone alternate) tires on a little early, but I'm happy with the car. Obviously, I would like to be a little bit further up on the grid, but we haven't had such a smooth day in a while as far as the first day goes. If we make the right changes for tomorrow, I think we'll be pretty good."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Rousseau Honda): "P2 and 4 in both sessions. Swapped positions, but ultimately it doesn't matter. You know, I think we put a good product on the track right off the trailer and (I'm) proud of everybody for working hard and making it happen with the No. 15 Rousseau Honda. So, you know, tonight, we don't need to reinvent the wheel. Let's go out and try to find a little bit more. I mean, I'm fourth and I'm less than two-hundredths off Takuma (Sato) in seconds, so it's going to just be a typical INDYCAR qualifying session."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team Mouser/Molex Honda): "I think the Mouser Electronics/Molex car is pretty decent, we just can't get it to brake properly and that unfortunately is killing us. I can't get a clue what it's going to do, when it's going to do it and why it's happening, so that is both frustrating and disappointing. We'll just sit down this afternoon and tonight, go over all the data and see if we can find a reason for the problem."

ZACHARY CLAMAN DE MELO (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): "It's great to be here at the Honda Indy Toronto and to be representing Paysafe in front of all their guests that will be here over the weekend. Unfortunately, this track isn't easy and we struggled today in practice. We'll keep working at it for tomorrow and hopefully we can find more speed for qualifying."

JORDAN KING (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet): "I am enjoying my time in Toronto. The circuit is quite tricky and it takes some time to learn all of the little characteristics. I feel much more comfortable in the car now than I did during this morning's session and I feel we are going in a good direction. I do like the street circuits and the challenges they present, but it's still difficult when the sessions are only 45 minutes. I'm looking forward to sitting down with the engineers to see where we can continue to improve tomorrow."

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Chevrolet): "We finished the day strong, which is always nice. We found a few things with the car that I really liked during this afternoon's practice. Mainly front grip, I am always asking for more. I thought our pace on reds (Firestone alternate tires) was really good as well, which was also encouraging. We were able to close the gap to a lot of the other guys. Overall, it was a good first day and the Preferred Freezer Services car is handling really well. Hopefully, we can keep it like that tomorrow in qualifying."

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): "I'll say the No. 22 DXC Technology Chevy was pretty good. I think we made quite a bit of improvement on the street course setup. It's super tight here and it's a blast to drive around the streets of Toronto. We need to make some improvements to try to be a little closer to (Scott) Dixon. He seems really strong, but I think we're right in the mix. It's just super competitive right now. We'll see what we can do tomorrow." (About keys to a successful qualifying session): "Fuel balance of the car, trying to find the little bits and pieces will be really important for qualifying. The little details come down to that, to extract five-hundredths of seconds in each corner. Then at the end of the lap it adds up so just working on details tonight."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Novo Nordisk Chevrolet): "I'm pretty happy with this afternoon's practice session. We definitely made progress from this morning's session. We have a few balance challenges left to address for tomorrow, but I feel pretty confident that we can learn on the No. 23 car side of things from looking at Max's (Chilton) data and watching some on-track videos. We didn't maximize the alternate tire run very well, and even toward the end of that last session, the track was continuing to grip up. I think both the No. 23 and No. 59 cars will take a step forward tomorrow."

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Relay Group 1001 Honda): "I feel a little behind the ball learning right now. This is definitely the toughest track I've come to in an Indy car, just trying to figure out the track and the balance of the car. We have a lot of work to do tonight – luckily, I have three really good teammates to lean on. As this year has kind of been, we get ahead in some places, then we come to someplace new and it's like starting all over again. We just need to figure out what we need to do to go faster tomorrow and then make it happen."

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): "It was generally a pretty good day for the NAPA team. There are a lot of cars pretty much on the same lap time and then one car that is a step ahead of all of us. We've got to put our heads together and figure out what it is, but generally, I think the performance has been good. We just need to make a good couple of changes overnight, and hopefully, close the gap."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "We had quite an interesting second practice today – we went out on (Firestone alternate tires) reds and then the red flag came out, so we never really got a new good run on new reds. All that considered, going P8 on our third outing on the red tires is not bad. We'll put our heads together as a team – it looks like the cars are quick. Hopefully we'll go a lot faster tomorrow."

Takuma Sato
Takuma Sato

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): "I think it was a very positive day. The car works pretty well really out of the box. The philosophy took over from last year's generic RLL setup, and obviously, we built on it for the 2018 kit based on the reduction of aero. I feel positive. There was grip right away. The Firestone tire is very similar to last year. The compound might be a bit different, but it felt the same for me. I had good grip and it seems like the working range is a bit wider. The track change that Toronto has made is a significant difference. The main straight is a lot less bumpy and very comfortable for the drivers. It's all safer because there is less bottoming and less locking. It's an impressive job that they've done. The entire lap, I was really happy from Practice 1 to Practice 2. In Practice 2, it was much more to my liking and the lap times are very close. But it's nice to be ahead."

RENE BINDER (No. 32 Binderholz tiptop timber Chevrolet): "The weekend has started off better for us than in Detroit. I was on pace with the field early. In the first session, I learned the track and throughout both sessions; I became pretty comfortable. In the second session, we were able to run on the Firestone red (alternate) tires and get a good read. We also did some setup changes and tried some new things. The car is handling really well and I am confident we have found a good race setup. Now, we will prepare for qualifying and look to get everything we can out of that session."

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): "It was a challenging day here in Toronto, but I feel confident at this track. I love this circuit and I've been quick here before, but we're just trying to work out the setup as a new team. We went slightly different ways in terms of setup on both cars in that last session, so we'll come together tonight to see what worked and what didn't to make the cars better for practice and qualifying tomorrow. I enjoy street circuits, so hopefully we can have a good weekend with good results for the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet."

CONOR DALY (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): "I'm super happy with today. We have to look and see what the other Chevys are doing out there, and compared to them, we're not bad for only having one day in the car. We got a great run on reds (Firestone alternate tires), but had a little traffic on our run, which is a shame. We're making the steps we want to make and we're working through our setup changes, which is great because that's the goal of the weekend. It's always nice to work with the Team Chevy guys again, they're awesome. Obviously, I'm a passionate American man, so to have a Chevy powerplant behind us is always nice."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 Oberto Circle K / Curb Honda): "It was a good first day. We still need to find that four-and-a-half tenths to (Scott) Dixon, he's got that over all of us right now. We need to be careful, though, that chasing that doesn't detune us elsewhere. Right now, the Oberto Circle K car is, I think, a P2 car – we just need to find that gap to P1."

Practice 2 Results

Pos No Name Time Diff Gap FL Laps Engine Team
1 9 Scott Dixon 59.075 –.—- –.—- 17 22 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing Teams
2 30 Takuma Sato 59.512 0.4366 0.4366 8 18 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
3 98 Marco Andretti 59.528 0.4526 0.0160 11 19 Honda Andretti Herta Autosport with CA
4 15 Graham Rahal 59.531 0.4557 0.0031 14 17 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
5 27 Alexander Rossi 59.585 0.5095 0.0538 14 19 Honda Andretti Autosport
6 21 Spencer Pigot 59.635 0.5599 0.0504 16 19 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
7 1 Josef Newgarden 59.638 0.5632 0.0033 14 16 Chevy Team Penske
8 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 59.647 0.5720 0.0088 13 14 Honda Andretti Autosport
9 18 Sebastien Bourdais 59.803 0.7276 0.1556 17 21 Honda Dale Coyne Racing with VS
10 5 James Hinchcliffe 59.816 0.7406 0.0130 14 18 Honda Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
11 22 Simon Pagenaud 59.822 0.7466 0.0060 15 21 Chevy Team Penske
12 10 Ed Jones 59.968 0.8924 0.1458 18 24 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing Teams
13 6 Robert Wickens 59.986 0.9111 0.0187 9 22 Honda Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
14 14 Tony Kanaan 1:00.018 0.9427 0.0316 12 17 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
15 26 Zach Veach 1:00.060 0.9845 0.0418 18 24 Honda Andretti Autosport
16 12 Will Power 1:00.325 1.2503 0.2658 6 16 Chevy Team Penske
17 88 Conor Daly 1:00.411 1.3363 0.0860 17 23 Chevy Harding Racing
18 23 Charlie Kimball 1:00.498 1.4226 0.0863 19 25 Chevy Carlin
19 4 Matheus Leist 1:00.556 1.4804 0.0578 13 23 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
20 32 Rene Binder 1:00.571 1.4961 0.0157 19 22 Chevy Juncos Racing
21 20 Jordan King 1:00.676 1.6011 0.1050 17 18 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
22 59 Max Chilton 1:00.691 1.6159 0.0148 10 22 Chevy Carlin
23 19 Zachary De Melo 1:01.182 2.1072 0.4913 18 20 Honda Dale Coyne Racing

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