Will Power scored his third win of the season and his third career win in Toronto, as the initially dominant Scott Dixon got hosed by his pitstop strategy, falling one lap the wrong side of a yellow flag.
It was the 28th victory for Power who now goes to second in the championship, and within 50 points of teammate and championship leader Simon Pagenaud who was on the same strategy as Dixon and thus missed out on a potential podium finish.
Helio Castroneves finished second despite an early puncture causing him to drop out of the top three, but his enforced alternate strategy proving perfectly meshed with how the yellow flags thereafter.
But the biggest cheers of the day from the crowd were reserved for James Hinchcliffe who started sixth but appeared to struggle with his Schmidt Peterson Motorsport car’s handling for most of the day. Like Castroneves, he therefore switched to an early pitstop and an alternate strategy and one that played out for him perfectly as he nursed his fuel to the end, finishing 1.2sec ahead of Tony Kanaan.
Story of the race
There was a clean opening lap, Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing-Chevrolet leading from the three Penske-Chevys of Castroneves, Pagenaud and Power. However, further down and further around the lap, there was a collision between Charlie Kimball and Graham Rahal at Turn 8, which spun Kimball, and sent Ryan Hunter-Reay ran into the side of the Ganassi car, losing his front wing. Rahal had to stop too, with a rear puncture.
Under yellow, the order was Dixon, Castroneves, Pagenaud, Power, Bourdais, the Schmidt Peterson car of Mikhail Aleshin, Ed Carpenter Racing’s Josef Newgarden, Hinchcliffe, the fourth Penske of Juan Montoya, Kanaan and Conor Daly who had dropped four places from his superb seventh starting position.
On the restart on lap 5 Newgarden tried to muscle past Hinchcliffe from Turn 3 but couldn’t make it stick, and then there was a full-course yellow thrown on Lap 6, when Montoya ripped Josef Newgarden’s left-rear wheel pod, leaving debris on the back straight to Turn 3.
That sent Newgarden to the pits, the team also switching him from black tires to softer reds. The incident went under review, but no action was taken. Newgarden meanwhile, almost lost a lap, but it cued up a brave charge from the rear.
The race was restarted on Lap 9, and Montoya passed Hinchcliffe for seventh with another muscular around the outside maneuver, Hinch trying but failing to return the favor three laps later.
Up front, Dixon pulled out a 1sec lead over Castroneves who in turn had a 2sec lead ahead of Pagenaud, Power, Bourdais, Aleshin, Montoya, Hinchcliffe, Kanaan and Daly. At the back, Newgarden on a clear track was setting fastest lap after fastest lap of the race at this point, half a second faster than leader Dixon.
Tony Kanaan pitted from ninth at the end of Lap 16, complaining of oversteer, while Pagenaud in third was complaining of understeer. The top four were covered by eight seconds, with Bourdais’ decision to start on the black primaries appearing not to be paying off having dropped 3.3sec behind Power.
Jack Hawksworth pitted his AJ Foyt Racing Honda on Lap 20, as did Hunter-Reay, with Takuma Sato pitting two laps later. In the lower reaches of the Top 10, Montoya, Hinchcliffe, Daly were all running in close convoy behind Aleshin, until both Schmidt Peterson cars ducked into the pits on lap 25.
But the main drama around pitstop time was suddenly the front left of Castroneves deflated at Turn 1, and he had to therefore complete almost a whole lap before he could pit, by then having dropped to ninth.
Dixon and Power ducked into the pits at the end of lap 26, switching to the black primaries, and Pagenaud stopped a lap later to do the same. Bourdais took the lead for a lap before he too pitted but going the opposite way compound-wise, grabbing red tires. Montoya and Daly then pitted, too.
That left Dixon back in front by Lap 34, with a healthy eight second lead over Pagenaud, who was 3sec ahead of Power, who was trying to hold off the red-tired Bourdais, with Montoya a further 7sec adrift and being pressured by the recovering Castroneves. Aleshin, Kanaan, Daly and Hinch completed the Top 10.
Bourdais’ reds appeared to help him little, as he fell four seconds behind Power within five laps, and Montoya was closing from the rear. At the same time, Pagenaud and Power were homing in on Dixon and their efforts were being rewarded by Dixon getting held up by Hunter-Reay, who was desperately defending to try and stay on the lead lap.
By lap 43 Pagenaud was only 1.3sec behind him, and Power was only a further 1.2sec back. Hunter-Reay’s stubbornness was rewarded when the full course caution flew on lap 45 for debris in Turn 3 and track inspection in Turn 5, as the curb surface was getting torn off and tossed across the surface.
Dixon, Pagenaud, Power, Bourdais, Montoya, Castroneves, Aleshin, Daly, Kimball, Hinchcliffe was the top 10 as the pits opened on lap 47. Dale Coyne took the bait and pitted Daly, SPM did the same with Hinchcliffe, but the frontrunners stayed out.
Those on the alternate strategy came out in the order Hinch, Sato, Daly, Chilton, Newgarden, Pigot, Hunter-Reay, Munoz.
The Lap 51 restart was clean and Dixon got the hammer down, pulling 2.1sec in three laps over Pagenaud, with Power a similar distance behind his teammate. Montoya and Castroneves, meanwhile, were pushing Bourdais hard for fourth place, Montoya eventually going around the outside of the KVSH car at Turn 3 on Lap 56, while Castroneves pitted. A lap later, Bourdais also hit pit road, switching from reds back to blacks.
Newgarden, whose right hand pain had been exacerbated by the Toronto bumps, finally lost it at Turn 5 on lap 58, bouncing off the inside curb having the wheel ripped out of his hand and sending the #21 into the outside wall.
Power had just pitted in time, having seen Pagenaud being backed up, but with the pitlane closed under Newgarden’s yellow, Dixon and Pagenaud were unable to follow suit the following lap. Instead, when the pitlane opened they crawled round for their final stop followed by Montoya, Kimball, Montoya, Filippi, Rahal. Rossi.
That left the order at the front as Kanaan – who’d need to stop again – Power, Hinchcliffe, Sato, ECR’s Spencer Pigot, Castroneves, Aleshin, Bourdais, Hawksworth, Marco Andretti, Daly and Hunter-Reay.
The restart on Lap 64 was clean, and Hunter-Reay went around the outside of Pigot for 11th, Dixon followed through and commenced something of a charge, passing Hunter-Reay for 10th and Andretti for ninth.
Up front, Dixon’s teammate Kanaan was putting the hammer down to make as much time as he could before his next pitstop and the Brazilian veteran was five seconds ahead of Power with Hinchcliffe a further 9 sec behind Power, also desperately trying to make miracle fuel mileage.
Castroneves, like Power with no fuel worries, passed Sato for fifth on Lap 74 and zoomed onto the tail of Hinchcliffe who he passed on Lap 76.
Kanaan had done such a fine job of charging away in the lead that when he pitted that same lap, he was able to rejoin in fourth while behind him, Aleshin was trying to pass Sato and Dixon was succeeding in separating Hawksorth from eighth place.
Kanaan, on red tires and no fuel worries, should have been able to zoom in on local hero Hinchcliffe who appeared to be trying to make it to the checkered flag without a stop, despite his team’s fuel number crunchers suggesting it would be touch-and-go.
Then suddenly Hinch was thrown a lifeline on when on Lap 81, Montoya understeered on marbles and into the tire wall at Turn 5…. where Hawksworth was already parked, complaining that Pagenaud had punted him into the wall.
By the time JPM had been removed, there was only time for one lap of green, and with six push to pass boosts left, Power had no problem escaping from Castroneves and Hinchcliffe as the rest of the field rolled home in the order Kanaan, Sato, Aleshin, Bourdais, Dixon, Pagenaud, Andretti.
|1||12||Will Power||Penske (C)||1h42m38.6925s|
|2||3||Helio Castroneves||Penske (C)||1.5275|
|3||5||James Hinchcliffe||Schmidt (H)||2.5303|
|4||10||Tony Kanaan||Ganassi (C)||3.7758|
|5||14||Takuma Sato||Foyt (H)||4.0568|
|6||7||Mikhail Aleshin||Schmidt (H)||5.1145|
|7||11||Sébastien Bourdais||KVSH (C)||5.6393|
|8||9||Scott Dixon||Ganassi (C)||6.1020|
|9||22||Simon Pagenaud||Penske (C)||6.6355|
|10||27||Marco Andretti||Andretti (H)||6.9746|
|11||83||Charlie Kimball||Ganassi (C)||7.4782|
|12||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti (H)||8.0690|
|13||15||Graham Rahal||Rahal (H)||8.5989|
|14||19||Luca Filippi||Coyne (H)||8.9217|
|15||18||Conor Daly||Coyne (H)||9.4068|
|16||98||Alexander Rossi||Andretti-Herta (H)||9.6896|
|17||26||Carlos Muñoz||Andretti (H)||10.0568|
|18||8||Max Chilton||Ganassi (C)||10.6502|
|19||20||Spencer Pigot||Carpenter (C)||11.4494|
|20||2||Juan Pablo Montoya||Penske (C)||1 tour|
|21||41||Jack Hawksworth||Foyt (H)||5 tours|
|22||21||Josef Newgarden||Carpenter (C)||28 tours|