Dixon takes Verizon P1 Award at Honda Indy Toronto

Updated: 

TORONTO – In a battle that went to the final seconds, four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon waited until the last possible moment to win the Verizon P1 Award and pole position for Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto on the streets of Exhibition Place.

Gaining an additional lap this afternoon in the Firestone Fast Six, the climactic round of knockout qualifying, Dixon clocked a lap of 59.9073 seconds (107.326 mph) on the 1.786-mile temporary street course celebrating its 30th anniversary hosting Indy car events this weekend.

“A little bit unexpected,” said Dixon, who scored his first pole since Mid-Ohio last year. “We made the timeline by a second to get the next extra lap. Just kept getting negatives on the splits (showing he was on pace to take pole). Gave up a little bit in Turn 8, (but) obviously just enough to bump pole.”

CLICK HERE: Honda Indy Toronto qualifying results

The pole position is the 24th of Dixon’s Indy car career, moving him ahead of another legend, Johnny Rutherford, into 12th place on the all-time list. It is also the 86th in the Indy car history of Chip Ganassi Racing.

Dixon planned to run two laps at speed in the Firestone Fast Six, but crossed the timing line just ahead of the checkered flag to earn another trip around the circuit. With clear track ahead, the 35-year-old New Zealander pushed the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet to the top of the chart, preventing 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.

“Another one,” said a frustrated, but still smiling Castroneves, who has lost other pole positions late in qualifying this season at Belle Isle and Iowa. “What can I say? The Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet car was really good. First session (of qualifying) was not good. All credit to Jonathan (Diuguid, his engineer), hit the right spot on the car on the setup – it was very good.

“This is the type of thing that’s fun for me. Qualifying is very cool. At least we’re on the front row, which is extremely important in this place, and looking forward to move to the front.”

Like many drivers, Dixon admitted finding the ideal setup on the bumpy Toronto circuit, with differing surfaces throughout, was no easy task.

“We struggled with understeer,” said the 39-time Indy car race winner, tied for fourth all time with Al Unser, “especially on the (Firestone alternate) reds, throughout all qualifying sessions. We kept trying to put some front wing in to see if we could get it turning, which it did, but it was definitely pretty wild to drive.”

In pursuit of his sixth pole in 2016, series points leader Simon Pagenaud wound up third (No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet, 1 minute, 0.2293 of a second, 106.752 mph), just ahead of teammate Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, 1:00.4085, 106.435 mph). Rounding out the top six were Sebastien Bourdais in fifth (No. 11 Team Hydroxycut-KVSH Racing Chevy, 1:00.4221, 106.411 mph) and hometown favorite James Hinchcliffe in sixth (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, 1:00.5637, 104.438 mph).

“The guys did a great job between (practice) this morning and (qualifying) this afternoon,” said Hinchcliffe, who grew up in nearby Oakville, Ontario. “The car was good on those Firestone reds. We got to put the lap together, which is so tricky to do here, with all the surface changes, the bumps, everything.”

Sixth marks Hinchcliffe’s best start for his home race. He’ll make his seventh Toronto start Sunday and look to improve on his top finish of eighth, which he has done twice.

“Definitely we’re in as good a position here this weekend as we’ve ever been here. It would be nice to get that first (win) of the season. To do it here would be second only to the (Indianapolis) 500, so it would be pretty cool.”

While not reaching the Firestone Fast Six, Conor Daly earned a career-best start of seventh in the No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda for Dale Coyne Racing (1:00.5693, 106.153 mph). Defending Toronto champion and winner of last week’s Iowa Corn 300, Josef Newgarden, qualified eighth in the No. 21 Preferred Freezer/ECR Chevrolet (1:00.5885, 106.119 mph).

The Verizon IndyCar Series is back on track Sunday morning for a 30-minute warmup at 10:30 a.m. ET (RaceControl.IndyCar.com) ahead of the afternoon’s 85-lap race. Coverage of the Honda Indy Toronto, which will be the 32nd Indy car race at the track, can be found live on CNBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network at 2:30 p.m. ET, and will be re-aired at 5:30 p.m. on NBCSN.

Rank

Car

Driver Name

C/A/E/T

Time

Speed

Session

1

9

Dixon, Scott

D/C/C/F

59.9073

107.326

Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six

2

3

Castroneves, Helio

D/C/C/F

59.9425

107.263

Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six

3

22

Pagenaud, Simon

D/C/C/F

01:00.2293

106.752

Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six

4

12

Power, Will

D/C/C/F

01:00.4085

106.435

Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six

5

11

Bourdais, Sebastien

D/C/C/F

01:00.4221

106.411

Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six

6

5

Hinchcliffe, James

D/H/H/F

01:01.5637

104.438

Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six

7

18

Daly, Conor (R)

D/H/H/F

01:00.5693

106.153

Elimination Round 2 / Top 12

8

21

Newgarden, Josef

D/C/C/F

01:00.5885

106.119

Elimination Round 2 / Top 12

9

2

Montoya, Juan Pablo

D/C/C/F

01:00.6532

106.006

Elimination Round 2 / Top 12

10

7

Aleshin, Mikhail

D/H/H/F

01:00.6635

105.988

Elimination Round 2 / Top 12

11

19

Filippi, Luca

D/H/H/F

01:00.7784

105.788

Elimination Round 2 / Top 12

12

10

Kanaan, Tony

D/C/C/F

01:00.8561

105.653

Elimination Round 2 / Top 12

13

41

Hawksworth, Jack

D/H/H/F

01:00.6930

105.936

Elimination Round 1 / Group 1

14

8

Chilton, Max (R)

D/C/C/F

01:00.6372

106.034

Elimination Round 1 / Group 2

15

26

Munoz, Carlos

D/H/H/F

01:00.7712

105.800

Elimination Round 1 / Group 1

16

15

Rahal, Graham

D/H/H/F

01:00.7088

105.909

Elimination Round 1 / Group 2

17

83

Kimball, Charlie

D/C/C/F

01:00.9060

105.566

Elimination Round 1 / Group 1

18

28

Hunter-Reay, Ryan

D/H/H/F

01:00.8721

105.625

Elimination Round 1 / Group 2

19

98

Rossi, Alexander (R)

D/H/H/F

01:01.2087

105.044

Elimination Round 1 / Group 1

20

14

Sato, Takuma

D/H/H/F

01:01.4012

104.715

Elimination Round 1 / Group 2

21

20

Pigot, Spencer (R)

D/C/C/F

01:01.3360

104.826

Elimination Round 1 / Group 1

22

27

Andretti, Marco

(R) Rookie

D/H/H/F

01:01.4384

104.651

Elimination Round 1 / Group 2

(C)hassis: D=Dallara | (A)erokit: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (E)ngine: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (T)ire: F=Firestone

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