Scott Dixon took advantage of a welcome bonus lap in qualifying to score the Verizon P1 Award for the Honda Indy Toronto.
The Kiwi's 59.9073secs effort in the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, on the final lap of the qualifying session, earned his first pole of 2016, snapping a tie for twelfth place on the all-time IndyCar list with Johnny Rutherford by moving onto a career mark of 24.
Dixon, who won both ends of the 2013 Toronto doubleheader to launch a push to the third of his four Verizon IndyCar Series titles, planned to run two laps at speed in today's Firestone Fast Six, the last of three rounds of knockout qualifying, but was able to cross the timing line a precious few seconds ahead of the chequered flag to earn another lap. With clear track ahead, the 35-year-old The reigning series champion sped to the top of the chart.
"Each lap kept getting better," Dixon reported, "We made the timeline [sic
] by a second to get the extra lap. Then, we just kept getting negatives on the splits, gave up a little bit in turn eight; but obviously [it was] just enough to bump pole. We caught the timeline at the right point, that's it. Worked out nicely for a change."
Dixon's effort prevented Helio Castroneves from winning a second Toronto pole. Castroneves' best lap of 59.9425secs places him on the outside of Row 1 in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet.
"What am I going to say? I can't believe it," the Brazilian sighed, "What is it, [four] hundredths of a second? Congrats to them but the Shell Pennzoil Chevrolet car is really fast. Gosh! Come on, Dixon! Really? Really?!"
Simon Pagenaud, the 2016 championship leader who has advanced to the Firestone Fast Six at all seven road/street courses this year and won five poles, qualified third in the #22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet, while team-mate Will Power, a two-time Toronto race winner, earned the fourth spot in the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.
Sebastien Bourdais, another two-time Toronto winner, equalled his best 2016 qualifying effort with fifth in the #11 Team Hydroxycut-KVSH Racing Chevy, with local hero James Hinchcliffe sixth in the #5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda. For Hinchcliffe, it's the best qualifying performance in seven Toronto starts.
"I'm really pleased with the result today," the native of nearby Oakville noted, "We got back into the Fast Six after two weeks of shotgunning the field. It's kind of nice to be back at the sharp end of the grid.
"The Arrow Electronics guys did a great job. It's such a tough track out here with the conditions, the surface changes, the bumps obviously, but they did what they had to do and gave me a car that could get up there. I'm proud of all of them and hopefully the best starting spot I've ever had here turns into the best finish I've ever had here."
Dale Coyne Racing drivers Conor Daly and Luca Filippi also impressed by qualifying seventh and eleventh respectively. For Daly, in the #18 Jonathan Byrd's Hospitality Honda, it was a career-best qualifying effort in his 17th race, while Filippi will make his season-best start after being out of the #19 IMPCO ComfortPro Honda for nearly two months, last racing at Barber Motorsports Park in April.
Iowa Corn 300 winner, and defending Toronto champ, Josef Newgarden qualified eighth, with Juan Pablo Montoya and Mikhail Aleshin rounding out the top ten.