IndyCar- Hunter-Reay Survives Toronto Street Fight

Ryan Hunter-Reay survived a rash of late race caution flags to take his third consecutive race win at today’s Honda Indy Toronto at the Exhibition Place circuit in Downtown Toronto. With his win, Hunter-Reay becomes the first American born driver to lead IndyCar points standings since Sam Hornish Jr in 2006. With the addition of Charlie Kimball’s second place finish, the 2012 Honda Indy Toronto marked the first time since the 2006 Indianapolis 500 that two American drivers finished atop the podium in an IZOD Indycar Series event. Hunter-Reay is one of two drivers to win three consecutive events this season, joining Will Power’s early season run at Barber, Long Beach and Sao Paulo. Hunter-Reay and Power also hold the distinction of being the only drivers to win multiple races this season.

The command to fire engines was given at 12:53pm EDT under partly cloudy skies and track temps of 115 degrees. The previous day’s rain was gone, and the stage was set for a magnificent Honda Indy Toronto. Dario Franchitti started on Pole, but was overtaken by Will Power on Lap 6 going into Turn 3. Power would build up a lead of almost 4 and a half seconds on Franchitti. Scott Dixon would take his #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda off course on Lap 7 when his engine let go, but not in the spectacular fashion Dario’s did in Iowa. Another early race casualty would be Simona de Silvestro, who called it a day on Lap 8 with mechanical problems.

As Power pulled away from the field, green flag pit stops happened behind him. Power’s fuel run stretch would come back to bite him on Lap 24, when Graham Rahal decided to parallel park his #38 Service Central Ganassi Racing Honda at the exit of Turn 1, catching Power, Fracnhitti, Bourdais, Conway and Castroneves out as the leaders who hadn’t yet pitted. Franchitti would suffer serious issues refueling as he was too far away from the rig to properly insert the nozzle. His crew would have to use a quick jack to move his car to complete the pitstop.

The green flag would once again fly on Lap 28 with Simon Pagenaud leading Ryan Hunter-Reay. Pagenaud would hold on to the lead until Lap 49, when he would hand the lead over to Ryan Hunter-Reay. On Lap 57, Will Power and Josef Newgarden would make contact, damaging Power’s wing. Later in the lap, the top element of Power’s front wing would come loose, cutting down his left front tire and causing him to strike the wall. He would come in for service and need a new nosecone, but was able to continue the race. On Lap 68, Justin Wilson would be forced to retire after a bit of a tank slapper where his right rear tire would make contact with the wall.

Full Course Caution would return on Lap 79 as Josef Newgarden made an exciting, yet not quite so successful pass attempt on Simon Pagenaud going into Turn 3. Pagenaud moved right, blocking Newgarden’s path and causing him to miss the turn. Newgarden’s #67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda ended up stuck nose first into the tire barrier, bringing out the second full course caution of the day.

We’re back to green on Lap 82. Well, sorta. On the restart, Sebastien Bourdais makes a bold move to the outside of Charlie Kimball for second place. Kimball gets punted by Conway. Kimball gets into Bourdais, spinning him and causing all hell to break loose behind them. Later in Turn Three, Dario nails the back of Ryan Briscoe’s car, pushing them into the wall. For some unknown reason, Marco Andretti stops mid-corner, collecting Simon Pagenaud and Ed Carpenter. On Lap 85, the Checkered Flag comes out, and Ryan Hunter-Reay is declared the winner.

It also stands to note that after the race, Simon Pagenaud was assessed a 30 second penalty for avoidable contact on Lap 79 with Josef Newgarden.

MAJOR shakeup in points standings. Ryan Hunter-Reay is your new points leader. Will Power is 34 points back in second place, while Helio Castroneves is in third place. Scott Dixon and James Hinchcliffe drop to fourth and fifth respectively, ahead of Kanaan, Pagenaud, Franchitti, Briscoe and Oriol Servia. Chevrolet leads the manufacturer’s Championship 81 to 68 over Honda. Simon Pagenaud has a commanding lead over Josef Newgarden in the Rookie of the Year battle, with Katherine Legge holding down third place.

Post Race Quotes

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet): “No it doesn’t. It’s so much more fun doing it this way. I think we’d rather just keep doing this. This is awesome. There’s a championship run going on right now. I’m a part of it as much as everybody on this team is and they did excellent pit stops. They gave me the car to win today. We had it when it mattered again – at the end. We don’t need to win the beginning of the race. We need to win the end and it’s been such a pleasure. I can’t even believe – three races. This is going to take a second to settle in.   Now. I’m thinking we’ve got to do it again next weekend.We started seventh in Iowa, and it is a little bit harder to pass here but in IndyCar and these street races you just have to stick with it, no matter if you’re fourteenth, you just have to keep giving 110 percent and sometimes it shakes out for you. Today we had the right strategy; we had the right race car; we had the good pit stops; and I did it on the track.

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoRapid FlexTouch Honda): “I know that there were only 25 of us out there, but the amount of times I passed people there felt like there were about 50 cars, so a lot of credit to the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing crew, the 83. It was quick and all I had to do was turn and make a couple of moves when they were there. That last restart got pretty busy, but at the end of the day we came home with a clean results and all credit to Ryan. They worked the strategy, started up front and stayed there, Mike ran me reasonably clean at that last restart. Only a couple of marks on my sidepod, we made it through the corner, and as he said, it’s kind of unfortunate that with all the marbles, Seb got caught up in Turn 1.” (Were you conservative because of all the action, or push the whole way?) I think today, ‘conservative’ was maximum attack. When you’re going for it, the thing was sideways everywhere. You really had to push. What they did on the repaving made for great racing. I don’t know about everybody in the stands, but I sure had a lot of fun in the cockpit. And I can’t wait to get back, not only here next year, but in Edmonton in two weeks.”

MIKE CONWAY (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): “The guys at A.J. Foyt Racing have been working really hard all year. We’ve been getting in there, getting in there, and this weekend I felt like we started off better than we have before, so we just kept dialing in and come warm-up this morning, I was pretty happy with it. I knew that we could walk a way forward, but I was surprised at how good we were on that first stint and we could just move our way forward and work our way out to the front. But you know with that yellow, we got caught out there, I was in the back and had to do it all again, but it was a lot of fun, so big thank you to my crew.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): “”We had such a great car today just like we have all year.  The car was coming into its stride and we had a great strategy.  Unfortunately at the end I attempted a pass on Pagenaud that l don’t think I should have tried.  I went into the tires and that was the end of our fantastic run today. We showed that despite missing two practice sessions and qualifying in the back of the pack we have the ability to move up the field and threaten for a podium finish. We were right where we need to be today.  We just need to seal the deal.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): “I don’t know whether to be happy or mad. The HP car was pretty awesome during the race. We led and controlled the race for a little while. The team did an awesome job. It just didn’t go our way on the strategy. We tried to go for the win with a little bit of strategy. It just about worked out. Unfortunately, we did not have enough fuel to go to the end, so we had to pit.” (About penalty): “You know, I am eager to watch the replay. I have no doubt on what I did. I think I respected the rule, which is to keep your line. I kept my line, but Newgarden went into a hole where there was no space. If I didn’t move back, he was never going to stop. I had to move back to make sure he wasn’t going to take me out. So, I don’t see why I got penalized. But again, I need to see the replay. Sometimes, from the inside of the car, it looks a little different. But from my standpoint, I really don’t understand the penalty.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 7 TrueCar Dragon Racing Chevrolet): “”Yes, it was a great day. We had a potential third place going on. I was really happy with that. We benefited from (Scott) Dixon’s problems. We went after Justin (Wilson). We had a better race car. We took better care of our tires, and we were going to make it. That yellow came out at the worst time. A bunch of guys had gone out of sync already (pit stops). That cycle put us to the back of the pack. I knew it was going to be super hard from there, but we stuck together and tried to run mistake-free, which I did. The car was pretty good. It is just very difficult to pass. Made a few moves, and just tried to make it stick from there. Things started to play out in our favor at the end because some guys couldn’t make it on fuel. I passed (Charlie) Kimball on the restart…I don’t know what he did. Mistake…completely lose mind. If I didn’t give him the room, it was going to throw me in the tires, so I avoided the contact. I saw him coming so suddenly, I had to open the steering like super quick. I got on the marbles, and there was no way I could make the corner from there. Very disappointing because we should have finished on the podium, whatever place that was. That would have been great for the whole Dragon Racing crew. But, we’ll try again.”

JAMES JAKES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): “Thanks to all the guys, obviously for staying here late last night and working hard for the engine change, and thanks to Honda as well for giving us a fresh one. Hopefully we can get qualifying sorted for the next time at Edmonton so we can battle to be in the top three. We had a good car at the end of the race and we managed to pick quite a few guys off. A lot of people were saving fuel there so that was good because we were good to go til the end. Very happy today.”

 The next event is in two weeks when the IZOD Indycar Series returns to the Edmonton Airport Circuit for the Edmonton Indy.

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