Dixon wins Honda Indy Toronto pole position

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TORONTO – Scott Dixon scored the Verizon P1 Award ahead of Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto (2:30 p.m. ET, CNBC), and thus has his first pole position of the Verizon IndyCar Series season, the 24th of his career and first since Mid-Ohio last year.

The New Zealander in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet edged Helio Castroneves on his final lap in the Firestone Fast Six, with a 59.9073 lap time at the 1.786-mile Exhibition Place street course just ahead of Castroneves’ 59.9425.

The driver of the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet was first into the 59-second bracket in the Fast Six session after also doing so in Q2. But it wasn’t enough to hold off Dixon’s final lap flier.

Points leader Simon Pagenaud in the No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet starts next to Will Power on Row 2 ahead of past Toronto winner Sebastien Bourdais and James Hinchcliffe in Row 3. The P6 start is Hinchcliffe’s best in Toronto.

Temperatures of 68 degrees ambient and 107 on track set the stage for qualifying at Exhibition Place.

The highlight of Q1, Group 1, was both Dale Coyne Racing cars making it through to Q2, for the first time since Mid-Ohio 2014 (Justin Wilson P8, Carlos Huertas P10). Conor Daly was third in his group in the No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda, with the returning Luca Filippi fifth in the No. 19 IMPCO ComfortPro Honda.

Those two were mixed in with session leader Pagenaud, then Castroneves, with Tony Kanaan and hometown hero Hinchcliffe also advancing.

The five dropped included Jack Hawksworth, Carlos Munoz, Charlie Kimball, Alexander Rossi and Spencer Pigot, the latter in a disappointing effort considering he won both Indy Lights races last year.

Times tumbled with the track rubbering in further in Group 2. Juan Pablo Montoya in the rebuilt No. 2 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet was first into the sub-60 second bracket on Firestone reds, at 59.9964, only to be usurped by teammate Power in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet at 59.7747.

Others who advanced included Bourdais, Dixon, Newgarden and Aleshin. The five that didn’t were Max Chilton, Graham Rahal, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Takuma Sato and Marco Andretti.

“What we’re missing is overall grip and compliance. That’s so important on a track like this,” Hunter-Reay told NBCSN. “We’re not even on the same planet as the front runners when it comes to grip. … We’re fighting the car. Really swatting at flies.”

Rahal added, “I (went for it) and we hit the fence. The car is still ill-handling. I told the guys it was going to take a magic lap to advance, I knew it. Our basic balance, all weekend, we’ve been killing the rear tires, can’t put power down at all. … I went for it and the sucker went straight and we just tagged the wall.”

The Andretti Autosport quartet did not advance in total, with Coyne and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports carrying the flag for Honda in the Honda Indy Toronto qualifying.

In Q2, Dixon and Pagenaud both went into the 1:00.4 bracket on Firestone blacks. Meanwhile Daly went reds to reds for Coyne in his quest to advance.

Castroneves added his name to the 59-second bracket with a 59.8562 lap, ahead of Power, Dixon, Pagenaud, Bourdais and Hinchcliffe.

Daly came up just short of the Fast Six in seventh, albeit still in a career-best starting position. He was just ahead of longtime friend Newgarden in eighth – thus making for an American Row 4 lockout – with Montoya ninth, Aleshin 10th, Filippi 11th and Kanaan in 12th.

“We’re just trying to improve. … It’s real challenging to make it there,” Daly told NBCSN. “Everyone is so good in this series. It’s just cool to be in that group and kind of fighting for those positions. I’m proud of the team, we needed a rebound from last weekend.”

Newgarden, the defending Toronto winner and Iowa dominant race winner, added to NBCSN: “I’m always optimistic. There’s always something that can happen in the race. This is our best session; qualifying is the highest we’ve been this weekend. You hate to say eighth is the best we’ve been this weekend, but I’ve always got faith we can figure it out. That’s what happens when you get to racetracks, you try to solve the puzzle. We’re going to have to figure it out, man, we’re the defending champs. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

Times are below:

TorQuals

IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:


Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change