TORONTO -- Qualifications proved to be the most demanding portion of the Toronto 100 for Jack Hawksworth.
The first-year Firestone Indy Lights driver from England earned his first Sunoco Pole Award following a minor incident on the first lap of the 45-minute session and went on to a flag-to-flag victory in the caution-free 50-lap race on the 1.7-mile, 11-turn temporary street course.
Hawksworth, driving the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson with Curb-Agajanian car, earned his second victory of the season. With bonus points attached for the pole and leading the most laps to the victory and championship points front-runner Carlos Munoz placing fourth, Hawksworth slid into title contention through eight of 12 rounds.
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“I said after Indy I still thought I was going to win (the championship), and that was after two accidents (at Long Beach and Indy)," said Hawksworth, who is 43 points out of the lead. "There isn’t any reason why we can’t. We just take each practice session as it comes. We’re quite a lot of points behind, we’ve got a big hole to dig ourselves out of, but we’re enjoying it now."
He finished third and fifth in the past two races on ovals.
"We’re back on the streets, and we’ve finally got a good result under our belts," Hawksworth continued. "Today was a fantastic performance, so we’ll enjoy today. Then we’ve got Mid-Ohio in a few weeks, so you know, heads down and focus on that because you’re only as good as your last race. Today we won, but the next race could be a whole different story.”
Peter Dempsey, the Firestone Freedom 100 winner in the No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing car, overtook the No. 7 Schmidt Peterson with Curb-Agajanian car of Gabby Chaves on Lap 46 for second and finished 14.4 seconds back.
"It’s not a win, but to come from the back like we did and on the very first lap go to third from seventh it’s what we needed," Dempsey said. "Now we need to keep it rolling now for the rest of the year.”
Munoz takes an eight-point lead over Sage Karam into the race at Mid-Ohio, with Chaves 36 points behind in third. Chaves recorded his third consecutive podium finish and sixth in the eight races.