Canadians just off pace at Honda Indy Toronto as Scott Dixon wins
Canada's Robert Wickens, James Hinchcliffe finish 3rd and 4th
Scott Dixon won the Honda Toronto Indy on Sunday, his third title at the event, while Canadian Robert Wickens finished in third in his first race on Canadian soil in more than a decade.
Dixon of New Zealand finished the 85-lap course on the streets surrounding Exhibition Place first, with Simon Pagenaud of France finishing in second and Wickens, from Guelph, Ont., in third.
That's the third year in a row Canadians have landed on the podium. James Hinchcliffe of Oakville, Ont., ended up in fourth, after two straight years of third-place finishes, while Zachary Claman De Melo of Montreal was in 14th.
Josef Newgarden looked poised to defend his title and win for the third time in Toronto, leading for most of the first 32 laps on a hot and humid day.
But on Turn 1 of lap 33, the 27-year-old American hit the wall, allowing Dixon to take the lead and he cruised to victory from there.
Dixon entered the event 33 points ahead of Newgarden in the championship standings.
Wickens, Hinchcliffe take advantage
Further chaos ensued at the corner as Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal, Will Power, Max Chilton, Ed Jones, Alexander Rossi and Sebastien Bourdais were involved in a collision.
Rossi said Saturday a repave of the course would likely create more action heading into the first corner.
"I think it'll allow Turn 1 to be a passing zone now. Before it was still bumpy on the inside, pretty low percentage chance, so now we're able to improve everything from practice for the race."
The incident allowed Wickens and Hinchcliffe to surge into third and fourth.
Wickens moved up to second in lap 35 to trail Dixon, who led until he pitted on lap 55 but retook the lead shortly after.
This was the first race in Canada for Wickens, an IndyCar rookie, since competing in Toronto as part of the 2007 Champ Car Atlantic. He spent 12 seasons in Europe, including six with German's DTM series
Paul Tracy remains the only Canadian to win in Toronto, taking the checkered flag in 1993 and 2003.
Newgarden took his sixth pole of his career, and fourth of the year, on Saturday.
Dixon set a course record earlier in qualifying on Saturday, clocking a time of 58.5546 in segment 2. He started the race second and Simon Pagenaud was third.
Dixon also had the fastest lap time of 59.1394 seconds during the final practice earlier Sunday. He was trailed by Newgarden (59.3684) and American Ryan Hunter-Reay (59.3684).
The victory put the 37-year-old Dixon in some elite company. Three-time winners in Toronto included Australia's Will Power, Scotland's Dario Franchitti and American Michael Andretti, who holds the record for the most victories at seven.
Canadians sticking together
This was the first IndyCar race in Canada for the 29-year-old Wickens, who attended last year's Toronto Indy and had run to the winner's circle to see Hinchcliffe accept his third-place trophy. Wickens has three podium finishes so far this season and has been in the top five for three consecutive races.
"Our setup is so good because we really push each other," said Hinchcliffe, who is the senior driver for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. "Every track that we're going to, a lot of them Robby is going for the first time. [...] We sit down every weekend and we go over notes, go over video, he picks my brain a bit.
"Every position and every situation he's been put into he's handled like a veteran. No different here this weekend."
Montreal's Claman DeMelo, the other Canadian rookie in the race, finished 14th, his second best finish on the IndyCar circuit this year. He was 12th at the Indianapolis G.P. on May 12, where Wickens also finished third.
Although Hinchcliffe and Wickens are bigger names in car racing, Claman DeMelo was impressed with how supportive the fans were all week at the only international stop on the IndyCar schedule.
"The fans were great. I expected to probably be a little bit overshadowed by Hinch and Wicky," said the 20-year old. "But the fans were great all weekend. A lot of people knew me. I got a lot of support, signed a lot of autographs. Extremely cool experience."
With files from John Chidley-Hill, Canadian Press