Dixon on Sneak Attack, Takes Pole from Castroneves in Toronto

Let’s pick up where we left off… the last line of the last paragraph of my last post was:

“[Dixon is] a beast and currently fourth in points, so keep an eye on him this weekend. The No. 9 crew has kept it clean, lying relatively low in Toronto… and that’s Dixon’s favorite time to attack.”

Historically, I have not been a fan of making predictions with results but lately it’s been fun just following my gut instinct, comparing stats, and taking my personal observation of the field action from trackside into account and trying to “call it”! With the Verizon IndyCar Series being as unpredictable as it is, sometimes how we think a weekend is going to pan out ends up being far off the mark (read: Andretti Autosport at Iowa Speedway last weekend). And sometimes, the consistency of the drivers means hitting the center of the Target. See what I did there? Yeah, the one thing that will never change when it comes to my writitng… stupid jokes and puns sprinkled all around. No shame, folks, no shame.

Okay, let’s focus.

_9SG8302-1Yes, Scott Dixon is looking to make the bottom half of the season resurgence that he’s so famous for, again this year. After an electrical issue took him out of Race 1 at the Detroit doubleheader he was knocked down from P2 to P3 and then the mechanical failure at Road America saw him exiting the contest after only 6 laps and falling from second in points (which he regained with a P5 finish in Race 2 at Detroit) to fourth. Even his podium last weekend at the Iowa Corn 300 couldn’t move him up in the Championship hunt. He’s been stalking down Pagenaud all season but has yet to catch him – so I ask, is Toronto where he closes that gap a bit more in his hunt for the Astor Cup?

Dixon’s fastest lap time of 0:59.9073 ousted Helio Castroneves’ provisional pole time of 0:59.9425 on the last lap of that Firestone Fast 6 round today. The Team Penske driver took things very well as always, with a cheery disposition and even taking punches from James Hinchcliffe about how Castroneves is really just a very dark person under all the optimism, calling him “giggles”. Castroneves concurred saying they can’t stand each other and are just very good actors. A few laughs after a close qualifying session is a good release for the drivers, and it certainly doesn’t hurt us media folk. But then again… any presser conference, meeting, social gathering, or pass-by in the paddock is made funnier when Hinch is involved.

He wasn’t all fun and games though. He got pretty serious when asked if he could comment on the Bourdais incident that was being investigated at the time:

Yeah, sure. Six cars on track, we have a two-mile racetrack. They decided to send him right in front of me with that 30-second buffer to catch one lap in qualifying. I’m not mad with Sebastien because he is doing what he is told. I’m going to go buy KV a calculator because clearly they can’t count.”

But yes, in typically Hinch fashion, he brought it back around and ended things on a lighter note:

“…Maybe it’s the conversion. They [KVSH Racing] thought they were going to be further ahead with the dollar, but it guess it doesn’t happen with math.”

The Mayor is on his home turf this weekend, and starting the race tomorrow with the best view he’s ever had for this race, outside row 3 in P6. Previously, his best start was P8 for Race 1 in 2014, one of the two years that Toronto ran as a doubleheader weekend. Only one race for IndyCar this weekend and given how mixed the qualifying rounds were, I think the drivers are determined to put on a show for these fans with the new track as stage and this beautiful weather setting the mood. 

Verizon IndyCar Series track times for the Honda Indy Toronto:

Friday, July 15:
Practice #1 – 10:00 – 10:45 a.m. ET
Practice #2 – 2:30 – 3:15 p.m. ET

Saturday, July 16:
Practice #3 – 9:45 – 10:30 a.m. ET
Quals – 1:30 – 2:45 p.m. ET

Sunday, July 17:
Warm Up – 10:30 – 11:00 a.m. ET
Honda Indy Toronto Race – 2:30 – 5:30 p.m. E.T.

The Honda Indy Toronto qualifying will be broadcast live on NBCSN and the race will be broadcast live on CNBC. All practice sessions will be livestreamed via IndyCar. All links to livestream, plus information on radio coverage is available here.

Follow Shay on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
Follow Live Full Throttle on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Feature photo by Shawn Gritzmacher, property of IndyCar