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Simon Pagenaud wins pole position for Honda Indy Toronto

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Simon Pagenaud won the pole position for the Honda Indy Toronto Saturday afternoon with an elapsed time of 58.4293 seconds around the 11-Turn, 1.786-mile Exhibition Place street course.

The pole is the second of the season for Pagenaud, who has been fast all weekend. Pagenaud won the Indianapolis 500 from the pole in May.

“That was a lot of fun.” Pagenaud told NBC Sports. “[We] extracted the best out of it. This the best you can feel in racing, when you achieve what you expect.”

Scott Dixon will start next to Pagenaud in the front row, qualifying second with an elapsed time of 58.5948 seconds.

Felix Rosenqvist and Alexander Rossi qualified third and fourth, respectively, while Josef Newgarden and Ed Jones qualified fifth and sixth.

Marco Andretti, Sebastian Bourdais , Spencer Pigot and Takuma Sato qualified seventh through 10th, while a few notable drivers will start Sunday’s race from further down the starting grid than they’d like.

Local favorite James Hinchcliffe, who usually qualifies well at Toronto, qualified a disappointing 14th out of 22 entries after being eliminated in the first round of the session.

“I definitely think we lost the group lottery on that one,” Hinchcliffe told NBC Sports. “I think group 1 was a little less stacked than group 2, but at the end of the day, you gotta be faster than everybody.

“Disappointed to not be in the top half of the field, but I’m pretty confident we’re quicker than a couple of cars in front of us certainly.”

Will Power did not fare any better in qualifications, as the Aussie will start 15th Sunday afternoon after failing to advance from round 1 for the first time since 2015.

“I’ve had a bit of a rough weekend as far as setup,” Power said. “Just didn’t get it. Had some bad shifts unfortunately on the lap that probably would have bumped us through. Not good enough man, not good enough”.

Live coverage of the Honda Indy Toronto begins tomorrow afternoon at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Click here for full qualifying results

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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”