IndyCar: Newgarden Sneaks Past Dixon and Takes Pole in Rainy Toronto
Newgarden earned Team Penske its 262nd IndyCar pole in 51 years.
Josef Newgarden conquered the changing conditions at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Canada to earn his third IndyCar Verizon P1 award in just four races. Behind him, a confident Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud will start from second and third place on the grid.
The Tennessee native was the very last driver to lap the 1.786-mile street circuit which features a variety of tight corner and high-speed sweepers. However, much like Detroit's Belle Isle course, the Canadian circuit is quite bumpy and downright unforgiving when wet. This was the case during Saturday's round of knockout qualifying where a drying track threw rapidly changing conditions at the fastest drivers of the paddock.
Newgarden clocked a lap time of just 59.495 seconds at 108.068 miles per hour with Dixon, who had led most practice sessions, laying down a 59.692-second lap at 107.713 mph. Newgarden's teammate, Pagenaud, came in at 59.763 at 107.585 mph. Fellow Penske driver Will Power set the fourth-fastest time of the day, with Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi wrapping up the top five.
"We went out a little later, which to me, I thought if we could keep the minimum amount of laps on the tires, the better," said Newgarden. "The risk is if it starts raining heavier during the session, then that's the wrong choice because you need to be out there early getting a lap. But fortunately, it started drying up toward the end, and the car has been incredible this weekend."
Tomorrow's start of the race will surely be a scorcher as Dixon's pace so far this weekend has been good enough to lead the field and climb to the top step of the podium. In fact, one of the New Zealander's laps (58.5546 seconds) during the early rounds of qualifying was good enough to eclipse the previous track record that Pagenaud established last year by a staggering 1.4 seconds. Of course, with this track known for its high rate of attrition, being the fastest won't be enough to emerge victoriously.
"I'm a bit disappointed and mad at myself for not putting the PNC Bank car on pole position," Dixon said. "I feel bad for my team as well, as they gave me a car capable of doing it. I made a mistake in Turn 5 and that cost me a few tenths. All in all, it's not terrible starting on the front row, but when you know you had one and then let it get away, it hurts a little bit."