The Honda Indy Toronto Race 1 on Saturday was supposed to make history at the start with the first ever IZOD IndyCar Series standing start. That got waved off but the one lap sprint to the checkered provided excitement and controversy for a podium position and saw Scott Dixon win over Sebastien Bourdais.
Dixon became the first driver in 2013 to win two straight races as he backed up last Sunday's win at Pocono by taking the first of the doubleheader races on the streets of Toronto. It is the 31st career open-wheel win for Dixon.
"These doubleheaders are tough, we got through Race 1. You know the win is big but I have to thank Target," Dixon said in victory lane.
On a restart on lap 70 of 85 Sebastien Bourdais got a jump on race leader Scott Dixon and took the lead but Dixon fought back and passed Bourdais to regain the lead on lap 78. A caution on lap 82 for a spin by Alex Tagliani set up a final restart on lap 84 and this time Dixon got a great jump and was able to make the last circuit around the 1.7 mile 11 turn course unchallenged to win.
The controversy on the final lap occurred in Turn 3 when Will Power tried to pass Dario Franchitti for third. He darted to the inside and made contact with Franchitti before not being able to make the corner and nosing into the tire barrier. Power ended up with a 15th place finish. Franchitti meanwhile made the corner and came around to finish in third.
He was celebrating on the podium when race control issued a 25-second blocking penalty to him which dropped Franchitti to 13th and moved Marco Andretti onto the podium in third. Franchitti on replays might have moved about a foot to the inside when Power made his move but it was a harsh blocking call from race control that Franchitti did not agree with.
The race was supposed to start with the first ever standing start but that was aborted when Josef Newgarden's anti-stall system had an issue on the grid. The laps began to count and by the time the race went green with a rolling start it was lap 5. Franchitti who started on pole jumped out to the early lead over Sebastien Bourdais, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Tony Kanaan.
Dixon started his charge on lap 7 by moving to fifth and then fourth on lap 8. Of the leaders Bourdais was on the hard compound of tire, which should last longer, while all the others were on the soft compound for the opening stint. Bourdais began to get the benefit into the run and on lap 21 passed Franchitti with a daring move. Franchitti then was passed by Will Power and Scott Dixon and found himself in fourth.
He was the first of the leaders to pit on lap 23. Hunter-Reay pitted on lap 25 and stalled his car on exit momentarily before rolling away. Dixon and Kanaan pitted on lap 26 with Kanaan's team having a slow stop due to a fueling issue. On lap 28 Will Power pitted from second and Bourdais gave up the lead on lap 30 to pit. Charlie Kimball was the last to pit on lap 32.
On lap 33 Will Power was in the lead over Bourdais, Dixon, Franchitti, Hunter-Reay, EJ Viso, Charlie Kimball, Marco Andretti, Helio Castroneves, and James Hinchcliffe in the top 10. Tony Kanaan was 11th after the fueling issue.
The first caution then came out on lap 35 when Tristan Vautier made contact with Graham Rahal and spun him out. Vautier was issued a pass through avoidable contact penalty. He finished two laps down in 19th while Rahal was three laps down in 20th.
The race restarted on lap 41 and in Turn 3 Scott Dixon moved to second place over Bourdais. He then stalked Power the rest of the run. Pit stops started on lap 56 with Hunter-Reay. He again stalled after his stop which was costly. Franchitti pitted on lap 58 from fourth. On lap 61 Power pitted from the lead and Dixon stayed out for one more fast lap.
Dixon pitted on lap 62 and got back on track just ahead of Power in Turn 1. In Turn 3 Power dove to the inside of Dixon but over drove the corner and had to slow to not hit the tires. Dixon was able to pull back by. Bourdais then pitted on lap 63 and came out second just ahead of Power. He was on the soft compound for the finish while the others were on the hard compound.
On lap 65 the second caution came out when Justin Wilson turned Charlie Kimball and also collected Ryan Briscoe and Sebastian Saavedra. Wilson went onto finish tenth and Saavedra 16th. Kimball was 21st and Briscoe 22nd.
The race restarted on lap 70 where Bourdais got the great jump and took the lead over Dixon into Turn 1. In fact Franchitti also passed Dixon but Dixon worked right past his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate to regain second. He closed on Bourdais but it took until lap 78 for him to make the pass by using a push to pass down a straightaway while Bourdais was out of them.
On lap 79 Ryan Hunter-Reay overdrove Turn 3 trying to pass EJ Viso and hit the tires. He finished two laps down in 18th. On lap 82 Alex Tagliani spun on the inside of Simon Pagenaud in Turn 3 and stalled. He finished in 17th. That brought out the third caution period and set up a one lap sprint to the checkered flag.
Dixon this time got the jump and pulled away while the antics between Franchitti and Power ensued behind him in Turn 3.
The finishing order was Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais, and Marco Andretti on the podium. Tony Kanaan finished fourth, Helio Castroneves fifth, Mike Conway sixth, James Hinchcliffe seventh in his hometown of Toronto, Simon Pagenaud eighth, Simona De Silvestro ninth, and Justin Wilson tenth. James Jakes was 11th, Ed Carpenter 12th, and Dario Franchitti 13th after his blocking penalty. EJ Viso finished 14th with Will Power 15th. Newgarden finished 23rd after running the final 33 laps of the race.
Takuma Sato finished last in 24th after a mechanical issue took him out on lap 32. He was also placed on probation for five races due to his pit road incident last week at Pocono that took out Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Helio Castroneves leads the points by 41 entering tomorrow's second Toronto race over Ryan Hunter-Reay. Scott Dixon has now moved into third after his back-to-back wins.
Dixon earned the pole for Sunday's Race 2 in qualifying on Saturday morning. Dario Franchitti will start alongside in a rolling start. The race can be seen at 3 p.m. ET on The NBC Sports Network.
- Scott Dixon Leads Ganassi Podium Sweep in IndyCar Series Return to Pocono Raceway
- Mike Conway and Simon Pagenaud Pulled Surprise IndyCar Wins in Detroit’s Doubleheader
- Dario Franchitti Scores Pole for Race 1 of the IZOD IndyCar Series Weekend in Toronto
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