Sunday, July 16, 2017

Morning Warm-Up: Toronto 2017

Simon Pagenaud will lead the field to the green for the Honda Indy Toronto
Simon Pagenaud won his first pole position of the season with a time of 58.9124 seconds in the final round of qualifying for the Honda Indy Toronto. Pagenaud's most recent pole position had come in last season's finale at Sonoma, a race Pagenaud would win on his way to locking up the title. He has also won his last two starts from pole position as he won at Mid-Ohio last year after starting first. The French driver's previous best starting position on a street circuit this season was seventh at Belle Isle. Last week, Pagenaud led two laps during the final pit cycle at Iowa. Those were the first laps he had led since his victory at Phoenix in April. Graham Rahal starts on the front row for the second time this season. He won from pole position at Belle Isle in June. He also finished second to Pagenaud at Sonoma last year. This is the first time Rahal has started on the outside of the front row since Kentucky in 2011 and Rahal finished 12th that day.

Hélio Castroneves and Will Power will start on row two. This is the first time in 2017 that neither Castroneves nor Power is the top Team Penske qualifier. Power had the better record, qualifying on top six times to Castroneves' five times. Castroneves won last week after starting third on the grid. Castroneves has only won consecutive races twice in his career. He did it in 2006 at St. Petersburg and Motegi and he did it in 2010 at Kentucky and Motegi. Power won from fourth position last year at Toronto. Scott Dixon will start fifth. Dixon won from fifth position at Road America three weeks ago. He also won from fifth position in the first Toronto race of the 2013 doubleheader. James Hinchcliffe qualified in sixth position for the second consecutive year at his home race. This matches his career-best start at Toronto. He went on to pick up his career-best Toronto finish last year by coming home in third.

Josef Newgarden missed the final round of qualifying and he will start in seventh position. He started fourth of the four Penske drivers in seventh position at Barber and he went on to win that race. This is Newgarden's best starting position at Toronto. Newgarden has only finished in the top ten once at Exhibition Place. That was his victory in 2015. Alexander Rossi joins Josef Newgarden on row four. Rossi started eighth at St. Petersburg in March and he finished 11th. Max Chilton qualified ninth. This is the tenth top ten start of Chilton's career. He has yet to finish in the top ten on a street circuit with his best finish being 11th. Takuma Sato rounded out the top ten. This was only Sato's second time making it to the second round of qualifying in 2017. Every time Sato has started in the top ten at Toronto he has gone on to finish in the top ten in that race.

Marco Andretti will start 11th with J.R. Hildebrand next to him on row six. Despite completing 800 of 801 laps at Toronto since 2009, Andretti has never led a lap in the event. He led seven laps at Iowa last week. It was the first time Andretti had led since the 2015 season finale at Sonoma where Andretti led four laps. Hildebrand gets a career-best starting position for himself at Toronto but he hit the wall during his qualifying run. This was the first time Hildebrand advanced to the second round of qualifying since São Paulo in 2013. Spencer Pigot matches his career-best starting position by landing 13th on the grid. In the seven races they have been teammates, Pigot has qualified ahead of Hildebrand four times. Tony Kanaan joins Pigot on row seven. Kanaan had his chance of advancing to round two erased after Esteban Gutiérrez brought out the red flag in the final seconds of the group two session of round one. Kanaan has started outside the top ten in four of five street course races and his best street course finish this season was tenth in the second Belle Isle race.

Ed Jones qualified 15th for his first trip to Toronto in an IndyCar. Jones has three top ten finishes from the first four street course races and all three top ten finishes came after he did not make the second round of qualifying. Ryan Hunter-Reay will start 16th. This is the third consecutive year Hunter-Reay has started outside the top fifteen at Toronto after he had started seven consecutive Toronto races in the top ten. He has not finished in the top ten at Toronto since his 2012 victory. Charlie Kimball starts 17th for the second consecutive year at Toronto; he finished 11th last year. This is the eighth time he has started 17th in his career. He best finish in those previous seven races was tenth at São Paulo in 2013 and again at Barber in 2014. Conor Daly joins his fellow diabetic driver on row nine. This is the tenth time Daly has started outside the top fifteen this season.

Carlos Muñoz and Sebastián Saavedra will start on an all-Colombian row ten. Muñoz has been out-qualified by his teammate in four of the last five races. He has finished 17th four times at Toronto and 22nd in five starts at Exhibition Place. Saavedra starts 20th for the eighth time in his career. He has only finished on the lead lap once when starting 20th and his best finish is 15th. Esteban Gutiérrez was in position to advance to round two of qualifying when he slammed into the wall exiting the final corner of the circuit. Gutiérrez will roll off in 21st position. He has been cleared to drive by medical officials on Sunday morning after experiencing concussion-like symptoms on Saturday afternoon.

NBCSN's coverage of the Honda Indy Toronto begins at 3:00 p.m. ET with green flag scheduled for 3:47 p.m. ET. The race is scheduled for 85 laps.