TORONTO – Dale Coyne Racing achieved something today at the Honda Indy Toronto that not even Verizon IndyCar Series stalwarts Chip Ganassi Racing, Andretti Autosport or Ed Carpenter Racing could do: qualify two cars in the top 11.
Rookie Conor Daly qualified a career-best seventh and teammate Luca Filippi 11th, easily the team’s best effort of the 2016 season. Prior to today, only Daly’s ninth-place start at Road America last month had been that good. Not once before today have both Coyne entries advanced past the first round of knockout qualifying on the same weekend.
Daly, in the No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda, missed advancing to the Firestone Fast Six by 0.11 of a second to hometown favorite James Hinchcliffe.
“It feels great to be fighting for that top six and fighting right at the front of the Honda pack,” the 24-year-old American said, adding jokingly, “it’s a little painful, and a bit of shame, to be knocked out of the Firestone Fast Six by Hinch, but because it’s him it’s fine; he’s the hometown hero.
“I’m just happy with the progress that we’ve made. We keep improving from race to race and that’s what we have to keep doing.”
Filippi, driving the No. 19 IMPCO ComfortPro Honda, is behind the wheel for the first time in nearly two months – his first Verizon IndyCar Series event since the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama in late April. The 30-year-old Italian didn’t use the layoff as an excuse.
“It’s a good team result but I’m not happy for myself because I could have done much better and possibly been more or less where Conor is,” said Filippi, who finished a career-best second at Toronto last year driving for CFH Racing. “But we caught a train of traffic that came out in front of me and with these tires you can’t afford too many laps on those.
“That said, the potential is good so we can do well and better in the race. We just have to watch out for the start tomorrow and from there we can work our way up and have a strong race.”
Remembering Krosnoff on 20th anniversary of his death
The 2016 Honda Indy Toronto marks the 20th anniversary of when driver Jeff Krosnoff died in a crash during the race and track marshal Gary Avrin was killed by debris from the incident.
Racer.com’s Marshall Pruett honored Krosnoff by resurrecting a six-part series he wrote on the driver’s life five years ago. Pruett graciously permitted IndyCar.com to share memories of Krosnoff from friends and fellow competitors.
Krosnoff was a 31-year-old Indy car rookie who competed in just 11 races with Arciero-Wells Racing in the CART series before his untimely death July 14, 1996. He had built credibility as a factory driver in other racing disciplines with the likes of Toyota, Nissan and Jaguar before getting a chance to drive an Indy car.
Along the way, Krosnoff earned a host of admirers for his determination, typified by his motto to “Stay Hungry.” Mike Hull is the managing director at Chip Ganassi Racing Teams and has been working in Indy car racing for nearly four decades. He said today’s drivers would be wise to emulate Krosnoff.
“What Jeff represented to me was a guy that went out every day and got the most from what was given to him,” Hull said. “And I think he was a success, very much a success, and showed the way that race drivers should represent themselves. Because if he was having a good day, he was getting the most out of it. If his day wasn’t as successful, he was still getting the most from it.
“That's what I truly enjoyed about him was that positive attitude makes such a difference when you're working within a team environment,” Hull continued. “You want somebody that's out there trying their darndest to get the most out of it in a very positive manner, and that was Jeff Krosnoff.”
Bryan Herta, now co-owner of the Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian entry driven by Alexander Rossi, was in his third season as an Indy car driver in 1996 when he competed with Krosnoff.
“At the time,” Herta said, “you don't think that he's just going to have a handful of races to be judged by after all these years. You think that he's working with a new team, a good team, but one that was still developing and a new engine that needs developing. … You just didn't really dwell on what he had right then because you expected a lot more to be right around the corner for him to show what he could really do. Unfortunately, that never happened for him.”
Bowen has come from ice cream vendor to team essential at Toronto
Like many residents of Toronto, David Bowen is marking his 30th anniversary attending the Indy car race in his hometown. Part of the commercial operations of the Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian entry for Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi, Bowen spent his first race on the streets of Exhibition Place in 1986 selling ice cream as a teenager.
“I’ve been telling people that I was 8 when I was here,” joked Bowen, who joined forces with team owner Bryan Herta shortly after Bryan Herta Autosport won its first Indianapolis 500 in 2011. “My friend’s dad ran a local grocery store and they were unveiling a new product, so being 15, we came out and sold it for him.
“The track has changed a bit since then, but we were probably 100 meters from where the soccer stadium is now right at the pit in.”
Herta has enjoyed the partnership that has developed with Bowen.
“I’ve been working with David for the last five years, it’s been really rewarding,” said Herta. “We have a good time off the track and have a lot of success together on track. It feels like we are still making progress and there’s still a lot more we can accomplish.
“It’s great to be here in his hometown, in Toronto,” Herta added. “I know it’s a source of pride for David to be able to bring the team here and show us his world. Hopefully we can have a great result for him here and put on a good show for the hometown fans.”