The Honda Indy Toronto got underway Friday with two practice sessions for the cars and stars of the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon led the way in both practice sessions, ending the day with a fastest overall lap time of 59.0751.
The talk of the day surrounded the repaving that occurred in the off-season along the front straightaway that has smoothed the racing surface and increased grip.
“It’s nice to have a smooth front straight,” said Dixon following Friday’s second session. “Turn 1 alone I think is going to create some very good racing, and probably eliminate some of the mistakes going into 1.”
Finishing second to Dixon in the second practice session of the weekend was Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Takuma Sato with a lap time of 59.7117. Sato credited the Firestone Firehawk Tyres as well as the resurfaced Toronto track for his strong performance.
“I think it was a very positive day,” said Sato. “There was grip right away, it feels like the working range is a bit wider.”
Rounding out the top three on Friday was Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti, with a lap time of 59.5277. Andretti, who currently sits 11th in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings, has shown some promise this season on street courses. The driver of the #98 Honda earned his best finish of the season in Race 1 at Detroit, after starting the event from pole.
“It was a good first day. We still need to find that four-and-a-half tenths to (Scott) Dixon, he’s got that over all of us right now,” Andretti said following Friday’s second session.
All three Canadian IndyCar drivers have their work cut out for them following rather disappointing showings in the first two practice sessions. Dale Coyne Racing’s Zachary Claman DeMelo was the slowest overall driver on Friday, posting a time of 1:01.1823.
“Unfortunately, this track isn’t easy and we struggled today in practice,” said DeMelo. “We’ll keep working at it for tomorrow and hopefully we can find more speed for qualifying.”
Schmidt Peterson Motorsport’s Robert Wickens, who has performed very well in the first half of the season, finished the day in 13th position, with a lap of 59.9862.
“Practice didn’t go super well for us. The Lucas Oil crew and I definitely have some work to do overnight,” said Wickens.
Toronto crowd favourite James Hinchcliffe was the tenth fastest driver, ending the day with a lap of 59.8197.
“Today was OK. Obviously, there’s a lot to learn coming to a street circuit with a new car. They’ve done some paving work to the track, which is another curveball to throw us, but the Arrow Electronics team did a solid job,” Hinchcliffe said.
All three Canadians will be looking to turn their luck around for qualifying on Saturday.