TORONTO – Alexander Rossi was the fastest driver in the first laps turned by the NTT INDYCAR SERIES on the streets of Toronto in three years, pacing the first practice Friday for the Honda Indy Toronto.
Rossi turned a top lap of 1 minute, 0.6090 seconds in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda on the 11-turn, 1.786-mile temporary street circuit around Exhibition Place in Canada’s largest city. This annual event was put on hold for 2020 and 2021 due to restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
SEE: Practice Results
2016 series champion Simon Pagenaud ended up second, less than a tenth of a second behind fellow Indianapolis 500 winner Rossi. Pagenaud’s best lap in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda was 1:00.6991. Pagenaud was the last winner of the Honda Indy Toronto, in 2019.
“We still have some work to do,” Pagenaud said. “I would like to take the car to another level. That lap took a lot of energy out of me. We have to figure out how to improve the rear end, mostly.
“I love this track. This section in front of the pits is just … for a driver, you need precision, and you have to be on it and so intense. It’s a lot of fun.”
Graham Rahal ended up third at 1:00.7031 in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda, a bright spot in a tough season so far marked by a best finish of seventh.
“After the Sebring test, I thought it would translate OK to here,” Rahal said. “The setup that we went there and came out of there with is what we started here. She was quite good from the get-go. To see the guys smiling again is very rewarding.”
NTT INDYCAR SERIES points leader Marcus Ericsson was fourth at 1:00.7262 in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Two-time series champion and two-time Toronto winner Josef Newgarden rounded out the top five and was the quickest Chevrolet-powered driver at 1:00.7650 in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.
Three drivers – rookie Callum Ilott and veterans Jimmie Johnson and Helio Castroneves – made light contact with the concrete barriers lining the circuit during practice. Their cars suffered minor damage, and all three drivers were unhurt.
Still, the 75-minute session was remarkably clean and competitive considering only 12 of the 25 drivers competing this weekend have raced in an INDYCAR SERIES event on this tight, challenging circuit that features varying grip levels due to different pavement surfaces. Less than one second separated the top 17 drivers in practice today.
Practice will continue at 10 a.m. (ET) Saturday, followed by three rounds of NTT P1 Award qualifying at 2 p.m. Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network will provide live coverage of both sessions.
A warmup session and the 85-lap race are scheduled for Sunday. Live, exclusive coverage of the race starts at 3 p.m. on Peacock Premium – with limited commercial interruptions – and the INDYCAR Radio Network.
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