Simon Pagenaud has taken his third win of the 2019 IndyCar Series despite being hunted by Scott Dixon for the final 20 laps in Toronto.
Pagenaud, in the #22 Team Penske Chevrolet, had been cruising through the middle stages of the race but Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dixon applied the pressure in the closing stages, getting within a half a second of the 2016 Champion.
An early six-car incident brought a full course yellow, but the rest of the race ran uninterrupted until the final lap where Will Power caused another yellow.
Power (#12 Team Penske Chevrolet) was caught up in the Lap 1 incident but had recovered to 10th before he buried the car in a tyre wall as Pagenaud took the chequered flag.
Pagenaud led the field to the green flag on the start, keeping away from the mid-field melee.
The eighth corner of the race saw an opportunistic Power going to the inside of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing entry of Graham Rahal.
The two touched and spun, collecting Marco Andretti (#98 Andretti Herta Honda), although the latter was able to keep momentum and continue after a full 360-degree spin.
Matheus Leist (#4 A.J Foyt Chevrolet), Marcus Ericsson (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (#28 Andretti Autosport Honda), however, had to take avoiding action and ended up on the escape road.
Ericsson had to pull to the pit road for repairs due to a broken wishbone for the #7 Honda and Rahal’s stricken #15 Honda had to be restarted, meaning the field was brought under a full course yellow.
Power also had damage, the #12 Penske crew having to change his front wing, and he exited the pits in 19th.
Racing resumed on Lap 7, Pagenaud gapping the field.
The first round of pit stops came 10 laps later, with the majority of the field switching to black tyres.
The top four, however, stayed out for another two laps before pulling the pin on the softer, red tyres.
Zach Veach (#26 Andretti Autosport Honda) inherited the lead on an alternate strategy, followed by Pagenaud and rookie Santino Ferrucci (#19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda), while Rahal had made it up to fourth courtesy of the stop he made after the Lap 1 incident.
Championship contenders Josef Newgarden (#2 Team Penske Chevrolet) and Alexander Rossi (#27 Andretti Autosport Honda) remained glued together on track, as they tried to get past the slower, out-of-sequence Carlin entry of Sage Karam (#31 Chevrolet) which sat just outside the top five.
Pagenaud made an on-track move to re-take the lead from Veach on Lap 23 and quickly put together over a second gap on the 24-year-old.
Veach held on to second before stopping on Lap 32 and leaving Ferrucci, also on an alternate strategy in second place after he had started in 17th.
Nearing the halfway point of the race, Pagenaud came on the radio to say that he was ‘just cruising’.
As Ferrucci finally took to pit road on Lap 34, Pagenaud’s lead had stretched to six seconds over Dixon.
The strategies cycled out as the final pit stops began around Lap 51, and Rossi managed to jump Newgarden for third position through those stops.
Takuma Sato, Sebastien Bourdais (#18 DCR w/ Vasser-Sullivan Honda), Felix Rosenqvist, James Hinchcliffe (#5 Schmidt Peterson Honda), Colton Herta (#88 Harding-Steinbrenner Honda), and Power filled out spots five to 10 with 30 laps remaining.
Dixon had taken a bite out of Pagenaud’s lead, bringing it down to under a second on Lap 61 of 85.
The Frenchman stepped up his pace, getting the gap out to over a second again, however the pair came up on lapped traffic and Dixon was still breathing down his neck.
Pagenaud had fallen into Dixon’s clutches while hitting his fuel number, though Dixon had pitted on the same lap as the 2019 Indy 500 winner.
With under 20 laps remaining, Dixon had brought the gap down to half a second.
On Lap 67, Sato pitted with flames visible from the rear of the #30 Honda.
The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team was quick to put it out as the Japanese driver came to a stop and retired from the race, promoting Rosenqvist’s #10 Chip Ganassi Honda into the top five.
In the closing laps, Rossi tightened the margin on the feuding front two, waiting to pick up the pieces.
However, with the help of lapped traffic Pagenaud was able to keep his advantage over Dixon and to win his third race of the season.
Chaos broke out behind as his two team-mates struck trouble with Newgarden glancing the wall and Power burying his Chevrolet in the tyres, again at Turn 8, bringing out a late yellow.
After the flag Dixon revealed he had sustained early damage to the #9 Honda and had been struggling through the race.
He still took second, Rossi was third, Newgarden did make it home in fourth, and Rosenqvist rounded out the top five.
The rest of the top 10 was Hinchcliffe, Herta, Bourdais, Rahal, and Andretti, while Power was officially 18th.
Newgarden’s series lead is four points over Rossi with Iowa Speedway next on July 19-20 (local time).
Race results: Toronto
|Pos||Num||Driver||C/E/T||Race time/Split||Pit stops||Status||Grid pos|
|5||10||Felix Rosenqvist (R)||D/H/F||+20.7432||2||Running||3|
|7||88||Colton Herta (R)||D/H/F||+32.6040||2||Running||16|
|11||19||Santino Ferrucci (R)||D/H/F||+53.4942||3||Running||17|
|12||20||Ed Jones||D/C/F||+1 lap||2||Running||6|
|13||26||Zach Veach||D/H/F||+1 lap||2||Running||18|
|14||59||Max Chilton||D/C/F||+1 lap||2||Running||13|
|15||21||Spencer Pigot||D/C/F||+1 lap||3||Running||9|
|16||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||D/H/F||+1 lap||4||Running||11|
|17||14||Tony Kanaan||D/C/F||+1 lap||2||Running||22|
|18||12||Will Power||D/C/F||+2 laps||3||Contact||15|
|19||4||Matheus Leist||D/C/F||+2 laps||3||Running||19|
|20||7||Marcus Ericsson (R)||D/H/F||+4 laps||3||Running||20|
|21||31||Sage Karam||D/C/F||+6 laps||4||Running||21|
|22||30||Takuma Sato||D/H/F||+18 laps||2||Mechanical||10|
Race winner: 85 laps
(C)hassis: D=Dallara | (E)ngine: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (T)yre: F=Firestone