Pagenaud leads, but two crashes occur in Toronto second practice

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TORONTO – Times fell in the second practice session as Verizon IndyCar Series drivers continued to push the limits at the revised, slightly reconfigured 1.786-mile Exhibition Place street circuit for the Honda Indy Toronto.

Simon Pagenaud led the session with a best time of 1:01.7081 in the No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet for Team Penske.

But the story of the session was incidents, because they were always threatening to happen and this session they finally did.

Just before the halfway mark, the first IndyCar accident happened of the weekend.

Juan Pablo Montoya clipped the inside apex at Turn 11 in his No. 2 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet, which then proceeded to shoot his car out to the right side of the course, and heavily into the Turn 11 retaining wall.

Montoya got out of his car under his own power but the car was substantially damaged on the right side.

A second red flag occurred just after the 24-minute mark when then-session leader Mikhail Aleshin in the No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda looped his car exiting Turn 1. He resumed under his own power with no damage and no need for assistance from the Holmatro Safety Team. Aleshin posted a 1:02.7016.

After a brief restart the red flag flew for the third time in the session at the 30-minute mark, when Charlie Kimball hit the exit of the Turn 11 wall in the No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chevrolet, then careened back to the inside wall. Kimball’s hit wasn’t as severe as Montoya’s but will still require the Chip Ganassi Racing team to do a bit of work to fix the car.

The planned 45-minute session was extended an extra five minutes to account for the lost time.

In those extra five minutes, times dipped into the low 1:02 bracket before Castroneves uncorked the first 1:01 of the weekend at 1:01.9091, and then Pagenaud topped that.

Castroneves was second ahead of Will Power, Scott Dixon, top Honda runner James Hinchcliffe on home soil in fifth and Sebastien Bourdais, the session one leader, in sixth.

Times are below.

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Ganassi announces multiyear sponsorship extension with American Legion for No. 10

Chip Ganassi American Legion
David Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Chip Ganassi Racing announced a new primary sponsorship deal with The American Legion this week, shoring up the funding on its No. 10 Dallara-Honda of Alex Palou.

The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series champion primarily had driven with NTT Data sponsorship the past two seasons. But NTT Data will move next season to McLaren Racing as a primary sponsor for Felix Rosenqvist in 10 races and on the Indy 500 car of Tony Kanaan (who drove an American Legion car for Ganassi at the Brickyard last year).

It was the latest twist in a McLaren-Ganassi saga that included a contract dispute for the services of Palou (who is expected to move to McLaren in 2024 after reaching an agreement to race with Ganassi next year).

Ganassi stayed within its own walls to help plug the sponsorship gap left by NTT Data, re-signing The American Legion to a multiyear extension. The Indianapolis-based non-profit organization, which has been sponsoring Ganassi cars for the past few seasons, also will be associated with other Ganassi drivers, including Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson and development driver Kyffin Simpson in Indy NXT.

The Ganassi organization will continue promoting The American Legion’s “Be The One” campaign aimed at reducing veteran suicides. The team launched an online auction for the initiative this week.

“Supporting our nation’s veterans is of immense importance to our organization and we are humbled to continue supporting The American Legion’s mission in ending veteran suicide,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a release. “We will do absolutely everything we can to help veterans get the support they need while raising public awareness of the ‘Be The One’ platform.”

“We have received an overwhelming amount of support from fans, active-duty military members and veterans as a result of this partnership and we’re pleased to see it grow,” said Dean Kessel, chief marketing officer at The American Legion. “Thanks to the continuous collaboration with the team’s other partners, and the promotion of the ‘Be The One’ initiative, we are discovering more ways to engage with the military community than ever before. We want all veterans to know that it’s okay to ask for help.”