By: Spencer Neff
July 14, 2019 | 5:32 PM
After leading two of the first three practices and winning the pole this weekend, Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud capped off a dominant weekend at the Honda Indy Toronto with his third win of 2019.
With his 14th career victory, the 2016 IndyCar Series Champion earned his first win since the Indianapolis 500 on May 26.
Holding off Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon and Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi, Pagenaud led 80 of 85 laps for his first win at the 1.758-mile, 11-turn Exhibition Place. This is also Pagenaud’s first win on a temporary street circuit since the Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2016.
Keeping the points lead, Pagenaud’s teammate Josef Newgarden finished fourth but the advantage over Rossi shrunk to four. Although Newgarden brushed the wall late in the race, he was able to continue on without any damage to his car.
After an impressive weekend, Ganassi rookie Felix Rosenqvist earned his third Top Five finish of his rookie season.
With the race ending under yellow, it provided a bookend that saw Pagenaud take hold of the race from the start.
On the first lap, multiple drivers found trouble in Turn 8. After making contact with Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal locked wheels with Will Power in the tire barriers. Further back, Matheus Leist’s car was also stalled in the incident.
Although Andretti was able to re-fire and continue on unassisted, the other drivers involved weren’t so lucky. As Rahal and Power were pushed out of the barriers, Leist and Marcus Ericsson went onto pit road for repairs.
When the race restarted on Lap 5, the Top 3 of Pagenaud, Dixon and Rossi pulled away. Further back, Ed Jones quickly charged past Felix Rosenqvist in Turn 3 for fourth-place. Meanwhile After his spun, Andretti was able to get back to 11th soon after.
On Lap 16, the Ed Carpenter Racing teammates Spencer Pigot and Ed Jones tangled. With the former suffering rear wing damaged, it became the start of a trying day for Pigot as he would finish 15th.
Following the first sequence of pit stops, Pagenaud continued to lead. In second, Zach Veach utilized strategy to hang onto second. After starting on the primary tires, as only three other drivers did, the Andretti Autosport driver ran 30 laps before his first stop.
Although Pagenaud continued to dominated, Dixon began to close during the final stint. With lapped traffic becoming more of a factor, he was able to get within half of a second of Pagenaud.
On Lap 69, a fire began to build from the back of Takuma Sato’s Honda-powered entry. Fortunately for the field, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver made it to pit road and the race stayed green. Sato later informed NBCSN’s Jon Beekhuis he suspects the fire was drivetrain-related.
Although Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan’s Sebastien Bourdais stopped in the Turn 3 barriers while battling Rosenqvist, he was able to re-fire and continue on to finish eighth.
Up front, Pagenaud continued to hang on to the lead despite running dangerously low on fuel. On the final lap, Power’s rough day continued as he locked up the front wheels of his car in Turn 8.
After Power’s contact with the tire barriers, a full-course yellow was called for just the second time and the race ended under caution. Following the race, Power expressed that he had been having trouble with his rear brakes locking up.
While his teammate’s day was bookended with another incident in Turn 8, Pagenaud coasted to the win. Thanks to his dominant weekend, Pagenaud is now just 39 points back of his teammate in third. Dixon’s gap to Newgarden is 86. Despite Power’s rough day, he sits fifth in points, 128 back.
After his Top Five-finish, Rosenqvist still leads the rookie standings by 16 points over Dale Coyne Racing’s Santino Ferrucci. Interestingly enough, the Top 10 in points remains unchanged after Sunday’s race.
With the street course portion of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series schedule wrapped up, the series will run ovals in three of the next four races. This stretch will begin on Saturday night in Iowa.
It won’t be long before the NTT IndyCar Series returns to action. On Saturday, Iowa Speedway plays host to its 13th IndyCar event. First practice will be held at 11:00 am Eastern time on Friday, July 19.
Television coverage for the July 20 race on NBCSN will begin at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time, leading into the race broadcast and expected green flag at 7:10 p.m.
Have a great week and check out Open-Wheels.com for continued coverage on the Honda Indy Toronto and the NTT IndyCar Series.
Header image by Shawn Gritzmacher/INDYCAR.