Josef Newgarden clinched his second win of both his Verizon IndyCar Series career and the 2015 season in Toronto on Sunday following some fine strategic work from the CFH Racing team in the early stages of the race.
The young American found himself running as low as 11th in the early stages of the race, but was brought in for his first tire change just moments before a full course caution that shut the pit lane and prevented any of the front-running drivers to make their first scheduled stop.
Once it had re-opened and early leaders Will Power and Simon Pagenaud pitted, Newgarden found himself running up in second place behind Penske’s Helio Castroneves, who had opted not to pit under the full course caution called when James Jakes hit the wall and stalled his car.
Castroneves tried to open up a lead, but a second full course caution prompted by Stefano Coletti hitting Charlie Kimball and then the wall cost the Brazilian his lead and saw him fall back through the order.
Newgarden managed to retain his lead leading up to the second round of pit stops, only for Castroneves and CFH Racing teammate Luca Filippi to go longer before stopping, allowing them to latch onto the back of the American driver upon exiting the pits.
Dale Coyne Racing had opted to keep Rodolfo Gonzalez out for a long stint at the front of the field, bunching Newgarden, Filippi and Castroneves up in the battle for second. By the time the Venezuelan pitted, Will Power had also joined the train of four fighting for the lead of the race with 13 laps to go.
Newgarden used his new-found freedom to slowly eke out a gap to Filippi at the front of the field, leaving the Italian to contend with Castroneves, who was particularly pacey on the red-ringed Firestone tires. However, the race leader did not have a push-to-pass boost remaining unlike his rivals, making the CFH Racing team wary of a possible challenge from behind.
Such fear proved to be unfounded, though, as Newgarden managed to maintain his advantage to the checkered flag and win the Honda Toronto Indy race, leading home a CFH Racing one-two as Filippi crossed the line in second place.
“Just an amazing team effort,” Newgarden told NBCSN in victory lane. “I can’t believe that we did one two even. It got a little close with Luca. We were really just trying to keep up.
“I got a little bit of lapped traffic. Close racing, but for sure I got a little lucky too. I got lucky on that yellow. It was a great call though – it was a great effort by this crew. They gave me amazing pit stops and the car to win. Luca is such a star too, it’s amazing he can get a second place. Super happy for the whole group.”
Castroneves was unable to keep up with the leading duo in the final few laps of the race, forcing the Brazilian to settle for third place at the checkered flag ahead of Will Power.
However, by finishing fourth, the defending champion managed to cut into the lead of Juan Pablo Montoya at the top of the standings to just 27 points after the Colombian finished down in seventh place.
Sebastien Bourdais’ early pace did not sustain into the final stint of the race, leaving him fifth at the flag ahead of Tony Kanaan. Scott Dixon finished behind Montoya in eighth, whilst Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato rounded out the top ten.
Honda Indy Toronto – Race Result
1. (11) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 85, Running
2. (6) Luca Filippi, Chevrolet, 85, Running
3. (7) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 85, Running
4. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 85, Running
5. (5) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 85, Running
6. (9) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 85, Running
7. (3) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 85, Running
8. (4) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 85, Running
9. (10) Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
10. (8) Takuma Sato, Honda, 85, Running
11. (2) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 85, Running
12. (19) Conor Daly, Honda, 85, Running
13. (18) Marco Andretti, Honda, 85, Running
14. (14) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 85, Running
15. (22) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 85, Running
16. (17) Sebastian Saavedra, Chevrolet, 85, Running
17. (21) Tristan Vautier, Honda, 85, Running
18. (23) Rodolfo Gonzalez, Honda, 85, Running
19. (16) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 84, Mechanical
20. (15) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 84, Running
21. (12) James Jakes, Honda, 84, Running
22. (13) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 69, Mechanical
23. (20) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, 40, Contact