TORONTO – Verizon IndyCar Series championship leader Scott Dixon paced Friday’s practice for the Honda Indy Toronto, leading 13 drivers who circulated the 1.786-mile temporary street course in less than a minute.
Driving the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Dixon’s quick lap was 59.0751 seconds (108.838 mph) during the second 45-minute session and stood as best for the day from either of the two practices. Dixon, who won both Toronto races on a doubleheader weekend in 2013, has a 33-point lead over Josef Newgarden entering competition this weekend as he chases his fifth series title.
“The PNC Bank car rolled off really fast off the truck and I expect the competition to continue to be really tough,” said Dixon, who was nearly a half-second better than the field and complimented racetrack officials for repaving some rougher portions of the circuit prior to this weekend. “We put a good lap together on the red Firestone (alternate) tires today, but I expect a lot more drivers to do that tomorrow for qualifying, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens here in Toronto for the pole.”
HONDA INDY TORONTO: Combined practice results
Honda-powered drivers nailed down the top five spots in the second practice after securing the first six positions in opening practice. Takuma Sato was second in the later session with a lap of 59.5117 seconds in the No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda, with Marco Andretti third at 59.5277 in the No. 98 Oberto Circle K/Curb Honda.
“I think it was a very positive day,” Sato said. “The car works pretty well really out of the box. The philosophy took over from last year's generic (team) setup and obviously we built on it for the 2018 kit based on the reduction of aero.
“In Practice 2, it was much more to my liking and the lap times are very close, but it's nice to be ahead."
Graham Rahal, Sato’s Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing teammate in the No. 15 Rousseau Honda, was fourth at 59.5308 seconds, with Alexander Rossi fifth in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda (59.5836).
Spencer Pigot, fresh off a career-best second-place finish last week at Iowa Speedway, was the top Chevrolet driver in practice. The Ed Carpenter Racing driver circled the streets of Exhibition Place in 59.6350 seconds in the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Chevrolet.
Newgarden, the defending Toronto race winner and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion, was seventh overall at 59.6383 seconds in the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.
A third practice takes place starting at 9:50 a.m. ET Saturday, ahead of Verizon P1 Award knockout qualifying at 1:55 p.m. Both Saturday sessions stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com, youtube.com/indycar and the INDYCAR Mobile app. Qualifying also airs on a same-day delay at 5 p.m. on NBCSN.
The Honda Indy Toronto, the 12th of 17 races this season, airs live at 3 p.m. Sunday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.