RECAP: Honda Indy Toronto
VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES
Weather played a role in Saturday's qualifying session as a short rain fell and the track became just wet enough for each group of Round 1 qualifying to start on the Firestone rain-option tires. Alexander Rossi was the only Andretti driver to participate in Group 1 and his fastest time was quick enough to advance the NAPA Racing driver to the next round.
The track dried quickly during the second group's run and Marco Andretti was one of the first to make his way to pit lane for a fresh set of Firestone Reds. Unfortunately, the timing didn't work in the Oberto Circle K car's favor and the Andretti-Herta team settled for a disappointing 14th-place starting position.
Zach Veach and Ryan Hunter-Reay came into the pits a few laps later and also made their way back on track with their racing machines wearing the Firestone alternate red tires. Veach was penalized at the checkered flag for causing a local yellow flag, resulting in the loss of his fastest lap. The rookie driver was handed a starting position of 22nd. Hunter-Reay was second quickest in Group 2 and transferred to the second round.
In Round 2, both Hunter-Reay and Rossi landed in the top five with tickets to move on to the Firestone Fast Six. After leaving all the cars had on the track, the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS and No. 28 DHL cars landed themselves on the starting grid next to each other in fifth and sixth, respectively.
CHASING THE CHECKERS.
Action ensued as soon as the green flag waved over the streets of Toronto for Sunday's 85-lap race. Ryan Hunter-Reay dashed to the third position on the opening lap, running strong with the leaders. On Lap 28, Hunter-Reay locked the brakes of the DHL machine which sent the championship contender into the tire barriers of Turn 3, causing the first caution period. After restarting the car and making his way around the track, Hunter-Reay pitted for a front wing change. The misfortune continued on the restart as Hunter-Reay was caught in an incident when the No. 15 car spun on track, bring the racing machine back to pit lane for an additional wing change and suspension inspections on Lap 35 and dropping Hunter-Reay a lap down.
Marco Andretti's vibrant green and red Oberto Circle K machine jumped five positions on Lap 1 to place himself inside of the top 10. The team brought Andretti into the pits for his first stop on Lap 18. During the first caution, the third-generation driver advanced six positions in fortune of making his first pit stop just 10 laps prior. Mid-way through the race, Andretti battled with Takuma Sato for fourth, eventually taking the position on Lap 42, just seconds before a third yellow flag was thrown. The series veteran ran solidly in fourth the remainder of the race. However misfortune struck Andretti an the No. 98 machine was forced in the pits with one lap to go for a splash of fuel after pitting just 28 laps prior.
Alexander Rossi hung quietly in the sixth position until just before the first caution flew. The 27 machine made contact with Will Power on Lap 28 forcing the NAPA Racing driver to pit under caution for a front wing change. Rossi then hit traffic and debris on an incident just after the following restart, resulting in a decreasing tire pressure and just two laps later, Rossi pitted for a second front wing change due to damage from the same incident. After falling as low as 20th, Rossi quickly moved through the field and the NAPA KNOW HOW crew worked swiftly in the pits to advance the 27 car to a 10th top-10 finish of the season.
It was rookie driver Zach Veach who held his own amongst the veterans to fight back from a last row start. The Relay / Group 1001 driver Ran a quiet, clean race to collect his second top-10 finish of the season (both recorded on street circuits) and come home the top Andretti driver of the weekend.
“It was a heck of a fight today, honestly. Starting 22nd, we knew we had our work cut out for us to get to the front, but we had great pit stops and great strategy. The guys did exactly what I needed them to do on the car on each pit stop, as far as adjustments, and it just came to us at the end. I’m really thankful for Andretti Autosport and Relay to be able to have such a good run up here in Canada. I’m ready to go to my hometown now and see if we can get into the top five.”
“It’s a pretty disappointing result. I don’t think we had the car to beat Scott [Dixon], but for sure with the problems that everyone had we could’ve finished second. It’s been a difficult string of races. We had contact with Will [Power] and he had a bit of a problem going into Turn 3 and I misjudged the closing rate so I had a front-wing change that put me to the back of the field. Then [Graham] Rahal spun around and I stopped to avoid it, but then Ryan [Hunter-Reay] hit me and I went airborne. We changed the wing again and stopped a couple more times. The fact that we finished eighth is a huge testament to the NAPA AUTO PARTS team and I’m so thankful for them. It was a difficult day and they kept me in it. We’ve had a lot of mistakes lately and there’s not a lot of time off so we have a lot of work to do.”
“I’m really disappointed. I just hate it for the Oberto boys because we had top-four pace all weekend and the only time we didn’t show it was in qualifying. We should’ve maybe had a shot at podium but definitely fourth. We were pretty good on cold tires. Everybody had a ton of pick-up so it made it a lot of fun when people were sliding around so we were able to capitalize. I saw the collector light come on with two laps to go and my heart sunk. We’ve had street course pace all year, we’re just not doing what we need to do as far as results and I’m pretty disappointed with that to be honest.”
“It’s was a very unfortunate day and a big loss for us in points. The DHL Honda was running comfortable in third and pushing hard, but I had too much front brake lock and found the tire barrier - that’s my fault. Then after that, we got caught up in a wreck which put us a lap down. From there we just fought to stay in front of the leader and salvage as much as we could.”
INDY LIGHTS PRESENTED BY COOPER TIRES SERIES
The clouds rolled in over the streets of Toronto and the rain began to fall during Saturday's Race 1 of Indy Lights competition. Weather conditions mad for a challenging race to the finish, but Andretti Autosport's rookie, Patricio O'Ward, topped the podium. Having led all 35 laps of the race, O'Ward scored his fifth win of the season, the most of any driver in the field. Teammate Ryan Norman avoided collision and earned his second career podium with a third-place finish.
Hometown driver, Dalton Kellett, made contact with the wall on Lap 12 forcing him to pit for a front-wing change. Kellett ended the day with a top-five finish running one lap down. Misfortune fell over second-generation driver, Colton Herta, as he suffered a non-displaced fracture in his thumb after making contact with the wall during qualifying. The bad luck continued during the race as he found himself in the wall on Lap 23 forcing early retirement for the No. 98 car. Despite the early exit, Herta broke the Indy Lights #IndyTO track race record with a lap time of 1:04.051 which he had previously set last year.
Andretti Autosport's Indy Lights stable took to the streets of Toronto one last time Sunday afternoon and Mexican driver, Patricio O'Ward ended the weekend with a second-place finish after battling Santi Urrutia all 35 laps for the top spot on the podium. Ryan Norman moved up the field and attempted to pass and move into podium contention but retired the afternoon just outside the top-three with a fourth-place finish.
Veteran Indy Lights driver, Dalton Kellett, struggled to find pace but completed all 35 laps and will leave his hometown with his fourth top-five finish of the season. The bad luck continued this weekend for championship contender Colton Herta. After being cleared by medical prior to the start of qualifying, Colton made contact with the wall on the final lap and was unable to finish the morning session. He started Race 2 in third but forfeit his position starting the race from pit lane after being cleared by medical again. Herta took the start of the race and completed three laps collecting points for a sixth-place finish, but for precautionary reasons, came into pit lane and retired from the race early.
“It was a frustrating race today. I was running P2 when I hit a bump and the wheel just ripped out of my hands and we went into the wall. Through all this, I have to thank the medical team – they’ve been great. The 98 car was quick today, unfortunately we just couldn’t show it.”
“It’s really upsetting but the future plays a bigger role in our goals and the championship is still in reach. We know we have a car to bring home the title so we’ll focus on being 100% and ready to fight in Mid-Ohio. I just have to thank my team and the medical staff for all the hard work and support they’ve provided this weekend. It’s been a rough one.”
“It was a crazy race. I got a great start but struggled to keep the car under me in the first 10 laps or so and everyone got back by me. The rain started coming and we just stayed consistent. I almost got around Santi [Urrutia] at the end, but over-broke into Turn 3 a little bit. The car was great once the tires started coming in. I’m really happy with today’s race.”