Josef Newgarden has won the Honda Indy Toronto while Will Power managed to limp through only one lap after a hit with Scott Dixon.
Newgarden profited from a quick call from strategist Tim Cindric to pit when Tony Kanaan found the wall a quarter of the way through proceedings
The resulting Caution had trapped the top five, headed by last-start winner Helio Castroneves (Team Penske Chevrolet), when pit lane closed.
Pole-sitter Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske Chevrolet) headed the field only as far as the first corner, at which point Castroneves made a huge dive to elevate himself from third to first.
The drama unfolded for Power just two corners later when he hit the rear of Dixon and bounced into the outside wall under brakes, briefly stranding the #12 Team Penske Chevrolet and bringing out a full course yellow.
It appeared that the field had checked up, causing Dixon (Chip Ganassi Honda) to jink left to avoid ramming third-placed Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda), but putting himself in Power’s path.
“I went down the outside of Scott and I don’t know if someone was on the inside of him (but) he moved out pretty quickly,” said Power.
“Unfortunately, we ended up in the wall. I should know better than to ever take any sort of risk when it’s the first lap, it’s just not worth it.”
The Australian barely managed to make it back to pit lane but took no further part in the 85-lap race and was classified 21st and last.
Dixon, meanwhile, pitted twice under Caution and incurred a drive-through for having too much work in a closed pit lane.
When the race restarted, Castroneves immediately put several car lengths on Pagenaud, and the Brazilian looked in control until a Caution was called on Lap 23, closing pit lane.
Kanaan had found the tyre wall at Turn 1, having locked up all four corners on his #10 Chip Ganassi Honda on his out lap.
While much of the field had already made their first pit stops and Newgarden had filed in just before the yellows were thrown out, the top five had to wait until pit lane opened again.
Among the disadvantaged were Castroneves, Pagenaud, Rahal, and Spencer Pigot (Ed Carpenter Chevrolet), who was on black tyres and carved through the field while those around him battled with deteriorating reds towards the end of their first stints.
Newgarden led upon restart, while second and third of Ed Jones (Dale Coyne Honda) and Charlie Kimball (Chip Ganassi Honda) had decided to not pit in the hope that grey skies would turn into rain.
Those two pitted by the end of Lap 38, but not before a quick Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport Honda) had taken third off Jones, leaving a top five of Newgarden, Rossi, James Hinchcliffe (Schmidt Peterson Honda), Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport Honda), and Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport Honda) approaching halfway.
The middle of the race became a game of fuel-saving, with Rossi initially cutting deep into Newgarden’s lead, to less than two seconds, before blowing back out to over five seconds when the leader made his final pit stop at the end of Lap 54.
While Dixon ran off-strategy after his Lap 1 drama and briefly ran fourth, the top five remained effectively unchanged through the final pit stops cycle, with Pagenaud moving up to sixth and Castroneves running eighth for the final stint of the race.
Dixon emerged 11th from his final pit stop and nearly understeered into the wall on Lap 64.
Pagenaud and Hunter-Reay banged wheels in and out of Turn 3 on Lap 77, Hunter-Reay holding onto the place with a criss-cross before giving it away with an error at Turn 8 on Lap 80.
Out front, Newgarden managed the margin to take his second win of the season, with the top five rounded out by Rossi, the Canadian Hinchcliffe, Andretti, and Pagenaud.
Hunter-Reay battled pick-up after his mistake but held sixth from Max Chilton (Chip Ganassi Honda) and Castroneves, while Rahal and Dixon made a late move past Schmidt Peterson Honda stand-in Sebastian Saavedra to complete the top 10.
Castroneves thus managed to eke only five points out of Dixon’s championship lead as the New Zealander managed to hang onto the lead lap and salvage a result, while Newgarden has put himself into series title contention.
Esteban Gutierrez was cleared to race after a qualifying crash caused concussion-like symptoms, finishing 14th for Dale Coyne Racing.
The next race is the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on July 28-30.
Results: Indy Toronto
|Pos||Driver||Grid||C/A/E/T||Laps||Race time, gap||Laps led||Status||Pit stops|
|14||Esteban Gutierrez (R)||21||D/H/H/F||85||+53.9858||–||Running||2|
|18||Spencer Pigot||13||D/C/C/F||84||+1 lap||–||Running||4|
|19||Tony Kanaan||14||D/H/H/F||83||+2 laps||–||Running||3|
|20||Ed Jones (R)||15||D/H/H/F||75||+10 laps||–||Mechanical||2|
|21||Will Power||4||D/C/C/F||0||+85 laps||–||Contact||0|
(C)hassis: D=Dallara | (A)erokit: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (E)ngine: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (T)yre: F=Firestone
|23||Juan Pablo Montoya||93|