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Dixon wins Honda Indy Toronto

The Canadian Press logoThe Canadian Press 2018-07-15 Mike Shulman
a man riding a motorcycle in front of a crowd © Provided by thecanadianpress.com

TORONTO - Scott Dixon won the Honda Toronto Indy on Sunday, his third title at the event, while Canadian Robert Wickens finished in third in his first race on Canadian soil in more than a decade.

Dixon of New Zealand finished the 85-lap course on the streets surrounding Exhibition Place first, with Simon Pagenaud of France finishing in second and Wickens, from Guelph, Ont., in third.

That's the third year in a row Canadians have landed on the podium. James Hinchcliffe of Oakville, Ont., ended in fourth, after two straight years of third-place finishes, while Zachary Claman De Melo of Montreal was in 14th.

Josef Newgarden looked poised to defend his title and win for the third time in Toronto, leading for most of the first 32 laps on a hot and humid day. The start-time temperature was listed at 27 C but felt like more like 35 C.

But on Turn 1 of lap 33, the 27-year-old American hit the wall, allowing Dixon to take the lead and he cruised to victory from there.

Newgarden entered the event 33 points ahead of Dixon in the championship standings.

Further chaos ensued at the corner as Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal, Will Power, Max Chilton, Ed Jones, Alexander Rossi and Sebastien Bourdais were involved in a collision.

Rossi said Saturday a repave of the course would likely create more action heading into the first corner.

"I think it'll allow Turn 1 to be a passing zone now. Before it was still bumpy on the inside, pretty low percentage chance, so now we're able to improve everything from practice for the race."

The incident allowed Wickens and Hinchcliffe to surge into third and fourth.

Wickens moved up to second in lap 35 to trail Dixon, who led until he pitted on lap 55 but retook the lead shortly after.

This was the first race in Canada for Wickens, an IndyCar rookie, since competing in Toronto as part of the 2007 Champ Car Atlantic. He spent 12 seasons in Europe, including six with German’s DTM series

Paul Tracy remains the only Canadian to win in Toronto, taking the checkered flag in 1993 and 2003.

Newgarden took his sixth pole of his career, and fourth of the year, on Saturday.

Dixon set a course record earlier in qualifying on Saturday, clocking a time of 58.5546 in segment 2. He started the race second and Simon Pagenaud was third.

Dixon also had the fastest lap time of 59.1394 seconds during the final practice earlier today. He was trailed by Newgarden (59.3684) and American Ryan Hunter-Reay (59.3684).

Hinchcliffe came into the race carrying momentum from a come-from-behind win over Newgarden at the Iowa Corn 300 last weekend.

Fans filled the grandstands at the race, which routinely attracted more than 70,000 people and about 170,000 over the course of the weekend during the 1990s and early 2000s.

A representative for Green Savoree said Sunday he expected the three-day turnout to be between 125,000 and 145,000.

There was also renewed talk about the potential of another race north of the border at IndyCar's lone Canadian stop. Co-owner of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Ric Peterson, said Saturday he is still pushing for a race in Calgary. He said 2019 is no longer on the table but the following year is still a possibility.

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