Sunday, July 17, 2016

Morning Warm-Up: Toronto 2016

Scott Dixon tries to get back in the title fight at Toronto
Scott Dixon won pole position on the final lap of qualifying with a lap at 59.9073 seconds. It is Dixon's first pole position since last year at Mid-Ohio. Dixon's previous best starting position this season was second at Long Beach and Road America. He finished second at Long Beach and 22nd at Road America after he suffered an engine problem seven laps into the race. Dixon won from pole position at Toronto in the 2013. That is Dixon's most recent victory from pole position.  It was his second victory of the weekend as he swept the doubleheader. Hélio Castroneves will start second after being knocked off by Dixon. The Brazilian ran a lap of 59.9425 seconds in the final round of qualifying. Castroneves has finished on the podium in three of the last four Toronto races, including a second to Dixon in 2013 but he hasn't won a race from second starting position since Richmond 2005. Castroneves has led a lap in the last four Toronto races.

Simon Pagenaud and Will Power start on an all-Team Penske row four. This is Pagenaud's fifth consecutive race starting in the top five. His average starting position this season is 3.416. The Frenchman's average finish on road and street circuits this season is 4.71 and he has led a lap in every race this season except for Phoenix and the Indianapolis 500. Power trails Pagenaud by 75 points after the Australian finished second at Iowa, two positions ahead the Frenchman and has finished on the podium in three consecutive races. Sébastien Bourdais qualified fifth for his 13th race at Exhibition Place. He has started in the top five eight times at Toronto and has finished in the top ten there 12 times. The hometown boy James Hinchcliffe will start a career best sixth at Toronto. His previous best at his home race was eighth. His best Toronto finish is eighth.

Conor Daly will start a career best seventh at Toronto. Daly has finished 21st in the last two races after his accident at Road America and his retirement at Iowa for handling issues. Daly finished 12th last year from 19th on the grid at Toronto substituting for James Hinchcliffe. Josef Newgarden joins Daly on row four. Newgarden won last year at Toronto from 11th on the grid and led 30 laps, tied with Will Power for the most led. Juan Pablo Montoya qualified ninth despite an accident on Friday and mechanical issues in the practice session before qualifying on Saturday. Last year, Montoya finished seventh, his first top ten finish at Toronto. Rounding out the top ten will be Mikhail Aleshin. The Russian is coming off his second top five finish of the season last week at Iowa. Aleshin's only retirement this season was his accident in the Indianapolis 500.

Luca Filippi returns to IndyCar and will start 11th in his fifth start of the 2016 season. Filippi has made the second round of qualifying 11 times in 14 opportunities. His best finish this season was 17th at Long Beach. Tony Kanaan joins Filippi on row six. This is the third time this season Kanaan has started outside the top ten. He started 19th at St. Petersburg and finished ninth and he started 18th in the Indianapolis 500 and finished fourth. Jack Hawksworth and Max Chilton comprise an all-British row seven. Hawksworth started and finished 14th last year at Toronto. His last top ten finish was an eighth at Mid-Ohio 12 races ago. Chilton's average finish from the last four races is 20.5 and he has not finished on the lead lap since the Indianapolis 500.

Carlos Muñoz is the top qualifying Andretti Autosport entry for the second consecutive race in the 15th position. Muñoz remains eighth in the championship but the Colombian has never finished better than 17th at Toronto. Graham Rahal joins Muñoz on row eight. Rahal is ninth in the championship, five points behind Muñoz. He finished 16th last week at Iowa and he is looking to avoid successive finishes outside the top ten since the final two races of last season. Charlie Kimball and Ryan Hunter-Reay will be on row nine. Hunter-Reay and Kimball finished 1-2 at Toronto in 2012. It was Kimball's first career podium finish. Kimball has four top ten finishes and three finishes of 20th or worse at Toronto. Hunter-Reay has finished outside the top ten in five consecutive Toronto races and the American looks to avoid consecutive finishes outside the top twenty for the first time in his career.

Alexander Rossi qualified 19th for his Toronto debut. Rossi has been the top Honda driver in the championship since Belle Isle. He currently is seventh in the championship on 286 points, 123 points behind Pagenaud. This is Rossi's second worst starting position in his career. He started 20th at Barber and finished 15th. Takuma Sato rounds out the top twenty. Sato has retired from four of his eight Toronto races but he has three top ten finishes at the track. Spencer Pigot and Marco Andretti make up the final row. Pigot won both Indy Lights races last year at Toronto. Andretti has started on the 11th row in three of the last four races. He finished ninth from 22nd on the grid at Belle Isle 2.

CNBC will have live coverage of the Honda Indy Toronto tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. ET with green flag at 3:08 p.m. ET. The race is scheduled for 85 laps.