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IndyCar points roundup: Toronto

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When Scott Dixon and Will Power crashed together on lap one at the Honda Indy Toronto, the door was blown open for all championship contenders to make big gains on Dixon, who entered Toronto as the points leader.

While he rebounded to finish tenth, and a lap 23 caution kept title rivals Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, and Graham Rahal, from battling for the win, Dixon nonetheless lost ground in the championship hunt.

Scott Dixon was involved in a lap one crash with Will Power at the Honda Indy Toronto. Photo: IndyCar

“It was a rough day in the NTT Data car,” Dixon lamented afterward. “I had a good start in Turn 1, and it looked like (Graham) Rahal decided to shift lanes and I had to avoid him. Then (Will) Power and I got together and ended up cutting down our tire and doing some damage to the suspension on the car. Then we had to fix the car and INDYCAR gave us a drive-through penalty, which was kind of odd. And then that kind of hosed our best efforts for the day and we ended up 10th.”

As a result of Dixon’s problems, his lead was cut to three points over Helio Castroneves. Simon Pagenaud remains third, but at a scant 19 points out of the lead. Josef Newgarden was the biggest mover, jumping up to fourth, only 23 markers out of the lead.

In other words, when the Verizon IndyCar series heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Honda Indy 200, any one of the top four could leave as the championship leader.

Behind them, Will Power and Graham Rahal remain in contention and are tied for fifth, despite their race day struggles. Power dropped out after the aforementioned incident with Dixon and finished 21st, while Rahal saw an untimely caution wreck his strategy, and he could no better than ninth. But, both still sit within striking distance at 64 points out of the lead.

While neither could leave Mid-Ohio in the championship lead, they could still gain significant ground, especially given their records at Mid-Ohio. Power has five finishes inside the top five there, including three second-place runs, while Rahal has three consecutive finishes inside the top five, including a win in 2015, at his home track.

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Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.