Will Power of Toowoomba, Australia, continued the blistering pace he first set in final practice Friday and won the pole this afternoon for Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto.
His lap around the 1.755-mile circuit through the Canadian National Exhibition and along part of Lake Shore Blvd. West was below a minute – 59.5771 seconds for a speed of 106.047 miles an hour, shattering the pole time he set a year ago of one minute, 1.6026 seconds (105.397 mph).
Power will start from pole for the 25th anniversary event, with Scott Dixon of Auckland, N.Z., beside him on the front row for the 80-lap, 140-mile race scheduled to start at 3 p.m. EDT (TSN). Dixon’s 59.6646 (105.892 mph) just edged his Scottish-born, Target Chip Ganassi teammate Dario Franchitti’s time of 59.9000 (105.476 mph).
Fastest woman was Simona De Silvestro, of Thun, Switzerland who will start 17th as Danica Patrick, of Roscoe, Ill., slipped to 21st in the 26-car field.
Fastest Canadian was Alex Tagliani of Montreal, who will go off ninth. James Hinchcliffe of Oakville will start 13th and Paul Tracy of Scarborough will start 24th.
Later, In a green-white-checkered finish, Andrew Ranger of Roxton Pond, Que., won the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race at the Honda Indy with Scott Steckly of Milverton, Ont., second and Robin Buck of Campbelleville, third.
Jason Bowles of Ontario, Calif., started from pole and led in the early going but dropped back with an engine spark plug problem, pretty much leaving Ranger – a former Champ Car World Series and Formula Atlantic driver – to walk away with the race.
Ranger was cruising when there was a late-race yellow and the field closed right up for the restart. But Ranger grabbed the lead at the green and held off Steckly for the final two laps.
Steckly was asked afterward why he hadn’t bumped Ranger out of the way and taken the lead, as Ranger has done to other drivers on any number of occasions previously.
“My goal is to win a championship for my team and for (sponsor) Canadian Tire,” said Steckly. “Andrew’s goal is to win races and it’s not that I don’t want to win races but you have to be smart.
“I could have gone to the outside of Andrew and maybe got him but more than likely the guy who was in third place might have taken me out.”
Ranger concurred, suggesting his "tradin' paint" style suits him because his goal is to win races, not championships.
It was two-time Canadian Tire Series champion Ranger's 10th career road-course win and a series-high 13th overall. The race was slowed due to caution three times for 13 laps and the lead changed hands just one time.
Steckly pushed his series points lead to 88 over defending champion D.J. Kennington (who was fifth Saturday) and 108 over J.R. Fitzpatrick, who suffered a flat tire late in the going.
Kerry Micks finished fourth behind Buck and then wrecked him on the slowown lap.
Mark Dilley, L.P. Dumoulin, Don Thomson Jr., Peter Klutt and Brad Graham rounded out the top 10.
Buck was a driver in the Player's-GM Challenge Series for Camaros and Firebirds and raced at the first Toronto Indy in 1986. He finished second in that race.
The IZOD IndyCar Series employs a “push-to-pass” button to help drivers overtake one another. The “push-to-pass” provides a driver with an extra 200 RPMs (about 10 horsepower) to the Honda V-8 engines.
For the Honda Indy Toronto, drivers will get 15 “pushes” to use at their discretion throughout the 80-lap race. Each “push” can last for up to 16 seconds. It takes the system 10 seconds to recharge.
Although the intent is to help drivers pass, some of them have also been known to use the “push” to help defend their position.
Katherine Legge, who raced in Toronto with the Champ Car World Series before the Indy Racing League and Champ Car became IndyCar, has not raced in the series since unification.
But she’s in Toronto for the Honda Indy and there are suggestions she has some race rides lined up for later in the season.
But Alex Tagliani rejects suggestions that she will be taking over a seat at Sam Schmidt Motorsports, where he’s employed as a driver (and where she’s been visiting). “If she does anything with us, it will be in (the minor league) Indy Lights,” he said.
Joey McColm of Ajax, who was caught up in a wreck early in Saturday’s NASCAR Canadian Tire Race, eventually finishing 31st, is an advocate of “green” racing and is affiliated with Earth Day. He’s using his race car to promote environmental responsibility and has been taking his message to industry and high schools in Durham Region.
“I’m trying to get funding for the program,” he said. “It’s called Eco-Driver and it’s going to new drivers in the high schools and telling them some things they could do differently like check their tire pressure frequently and maybe not take the car every time you have to go somewhere, combine your trips, that sort of thing.
“It’s a regional program now. I want to take it to the GTA and eventually across Ontario.”So far as is known, Buck is the only driver to compete in the first Toronto Indy as well as the latest.
MGM Properties in Las Vegas announced a program this morning in which visitors to Vegas for the final race of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar season on Oct. 16 will qualify for free tickets.
Stay at any of the company’s hotels leading up to the race (rooms start at $89), and you’ll receive two tickets to the season finale at the Las Vegas Speedway in which five non-IndyCar drivers will get to race against the series regulars.
There are some people who do not think this is such a good idea but IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said today that those selected will get lots of practice and will be tutored by defending series champion Dario Franchitti.
Bernard said he fully expects that within five years there will be an IndyCar street race built around the famous Las Vegas Strip and that his dream scenario would be to promote a double-header: a Friday night oval race at the Vegas Speedway and a Sunday afternoon street race at the Strip.
Mark Webber won the pole for tomorrow's British Grand Prix. Sebastien Vettel was second and Fernando Alonso was third.