Josef Newgarden fought off a strong challenge from an inspired Alexander Rossi as IndyCar’s championship battle took yet another twist on the streets of Toronto
Helio Castroneves win in Iowa saw him close right up to Dixon in the championship, and Toronto saw that lead shrink further. But he and all the other top qualifiers didn’t feature in the race for the win after an early caution period saw them shuffled to the back. Pole sitter Simon Pagenaud was overtaken at the start after Castroneves launched it down the inside of he and Graham Rahal, taking the lead instantly.
Dixon’s race unraveled just a few seconds later at turn 3, making contact with Will Power, the Penske driver exiting the race and Dixon suffering a puncture, bringing out a caution. At the restart, Castroneves lead the field away and stayed in front up until the second caution. Tony Kanaan exited the pits but locked up and speared into the tyre wall at turn 1.
“I think things are starting to finally come together. We’ve been looking for a breakthrough this year. I think this is it.”
Newgarden dived into the pits just as the caution came out. Rossi, James Hinchcliffe and some others had stopped just two laps before Kanaan’s incident and gained massively. When the field had shaken out after the next restart, Rossi was on a charge. He chased after Newgarden and got within 2 seconds of the Penske. Unfortunately, he had to back off and save fuel but he was still having one of the best races of his season.
Victories at the Indy 500 and Long Beach had eluded the rapid Andretti drive, and he was finally looking to be heading towards a first podium of the year. If anything it is ridiculous it had taken so long for Rossi to achieve the feat. Behind him, James Hinchcliffe was in contention for a second podium on home turf. The Canadian took P3 last year and was set to do so again, and was in a sort of no man’s land between Rossi and Marco Andretti. Andretti himself was having a great run in P4.
“The car really came alive on the (Firestone primary) blacks, so big thanks to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, all the guys – great stops – and all the fans in Toronto. The support that we feel each and every year is amazing.”
The last stops went trouble free, no more cautions coming out for the rest of the race. Newgarden had driven an inspired race to take his second team Penske win and vaulted himself magnificently back into the championship fight.
Rossi also drove incredibly well, to finally realise most of the potential of his pace. The rest will come with a win.
Hinchcliffe was a very popular P3, having had a quiet race. Meanwhile. Castroneves cut Dixon’s lead down to three points in the championship despite a tough day for both. Another incredible race for IndyCar saw the title fight really hot up. This one is sure to go right to the wire in Sonoma. With 5 races left, it is all to play for for the rest of the year.
“I thought we had a very fast car, we got a pretty good start and stayed out of the mayhem. Very, very happy for all of Team Penske, and this DeVilbiss Chevy was pretty bright, but it was pretty fast, too.”