Outside of Josef Newgarden, who timed his final bid for pole position to perfection, the Fast Six at Toronto all voiced frustration at having not been able to make the most of what they had in the qualifying shootout. While Scott Dixon (second) and Will Power (fourth) acknowledged mistakes on their best laps, the general angst was over the particular challenges of extracting maximum performance on a street course with changeable surface grip in conditions that were neither fully wet not dry.
“It’s kind of difficult when it’s sprinkling because the cement patches lose a lot more grip than the dark stuff. That’s exactly what happened,” noted Power in explaining his error in Turn 5 on what he thought would be his payoff lap. “The lap before, there was a lot of grip there. That lap there was none, and you just washed forward. Obviously Josef being the last guy had everyone run over that and kind of take that moisture away and I guess kind of helped. But yeah, they’re the hardest conditions.”
“You get out there and you never know how much you can get away with,” noted Ryan Hunter-Reay, who qualified sixth. “There’s not many racetracks in the world where you have to deal with crosswalks and stuff like that. You don’t know how much moisture is going to be on the paint, where you need to really put the left front or the right front tire under braking. One time going into [Turn] 1, I got away with it, and the next time I came in there I had a huge lockup and barely gathered it up.
“That’s the beauty of street racing and changing conditions. It’s a lot of fun, but man, the line between hero and zero is very, very thin.”
While he was another to have a lap he thought would bring him pole slip away, Scott Dixon said the ever-evolving challenge is a strength of IndyCar racing and its unique mix of venues.
“It’s a lot of fun in those conditions. It’s more fun when it works out for yourself, obviously, but I think that’s the cool thing about IndyCar racing,” mused Dixon. “You get a lot of variance in these circuits and even from year to year they change a ton.”
Both Dixon and Alexander Rossi were upbeat about the repaving work to the Exhibition Place street course for this year’s race. “It’s been a long wait for that front stretch to be repaved, and it’s definitely an improvement,” said Dixon, while Rossi reckoned the repaving should boost the entertainment factor on Sunday no matter what the conditions are.
“I think in general, I really didn’t like this track until this weekend they repaved into Turn 1, so it’s completely changed my perspective of this place, and it’s one of my favorite street circuits now,” Rossi said. “Hats off to everyone at the sanctioning body and the city of Toronto for doing that because I know it’s no easy feat. Awesome in the wet. It was great. In the dry it’s great. 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.”