TORONTO, Ontario — For the most part, the Honda Indy Toronto was a single-file affair with drivers finding it difficult to pass throughout the tight street circuit. Though for awhile, the fans in the stands were certainly entertained by the race for fifth.
Simon Pagenaud had the quicker car, easily catching Ryan Hunter-Reay for the position. However, the latter was not ready to lean over and hand over the lead with ease, countering each move made by the Team Penske driver.
The pair would go back and forth for a good bit – Laps 70 to 75 – with Pagenaud continuing to look for a way around Hunter-Reay. Their battle included Hunter-Reay running Pagenaud wide in one corner, followed by Pagenaud returning the favor later on with 10 circuits to go.
Out of the pair, Pagenaud was able to come out on top, finishing fifth with Hunter-Reay placing sixth.
“I’m glad we made for a good show,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “I thought it made for really good racing. It was tight, and a good time. I enjoyed it. I managed to get my way through so that’s the satisfying part.”
While noting it was a good point day with Scott Dixon placing 10th, Pagenaud felt he could have won the race, if he was not caught out by the yellow flag at Lap 23 when Tony Kanaan got into the turn one wall. He will enter Mid-Ohio Sports Course on June 30 sitting third in the standings, 19 markers behind Dixon.
“I’m happy for Josef (Newgarden) to win the race. He played a good strategy,” Pagenaud said. “I thought we had the fastest car today in the No. 1 team, but got caught by a yellow and didn’t win the race. It’s a bit of a shame, but we gained a lot of points. We’re right there, but it’s going to be a tight finish for sure.”
For Hunter-Reay, the sixth-place finished marked a significant improvement after ending up 16th in qualifying, due to not getting his flyer lap in with Esteban Guiterrez’s accident.
“It was alright,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “I’m just bummed that we didn’t come home fifth. Just lost the rear of the car there fighting Pagenaud and gave up the spot. All in all, not a bad day as a good day for Andretti Autosport with two, four, six.”
Although known as a championship contender, Hunter-Reay has struggled this season, with Toronto only marking his fourth top-10 of 2017. Moving forward to Mid-Ohio, he says it’s not simple to carry the momentum forward.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “Every track is different, so it’s almost like you’re starting from a fresh sheet of paper each time you go to the track, but we’ll try and carry it over.”
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