TORONTO — James Hinchcliffe is the face of the Honda Indy Toronto, so beating the hometown favourite at his race is that much sweeter for Josef Newgarden.
Newgarden captured his second title on the streets surrounding Exhibition Place on Sunday, finishing ahead of Hinchcliffe, who came third for a second straight year.
"I love beating Hinch in Canada," Newgarden joked. "I love Hinch, he’s a great representative, but this is so good."
Newgarden, who also won here in 2015, came out in front on Lap 25 after a crash by Tony Kanaan caused a caution. Kanaan had his brakes lock up while leaving the pits and connected with the protective tires in Turn 1.
Newgarden says that he’ll always take a bit of good fortune.
"We were up there but I’ll always take a bit of luck, I think we all would," he said. "The days that it goes your way and you end up lucky, you just take ’em.
"I’ll take a lucky yellow any day of the week."
It’s the fifth career win for Newgarden and his second victory this season after finishing first in the Grand Prix of Alabama in April.
Alexander Rossi finished second, ahead of Hinchcliffe. The driver from Oakville, Ont., earned his first podium finish in Toronto last year.
"We’ve had lots of luck when we’ve come here before, it’s always just been bad luck," Hinchcliffe said. "I was almost hoping that the race was 10 laps longer, it might have made things a bit more interesting there at the end."
Thundershowers were a threat throughout the race but held off. The day started out sunny and humid but clouded over during the event and it rained lightly at a few different times during the race.
Fans still packed the grandstands regardless of the potential inclement weather and stood along the fence to catch a glimpse as the cars whizzed by.
Newgarden says that the weather threat and possibility of having to switch to a different set of tires was an added stress.
"I was concerned about that (rain) and how it would throw a wrench into the works," Newgarden said. "If it starts raining when I’m on the wrong end of the track then that wouldn’t be very good."
Marco Andretti, whose father, Michael, won seven times on this track, was fourth while pole-sitter Simon Pagenaud was fifth after battling with Ryan Hunter-Reay.
A caution came out on the first lap when defending-champion Will Power was hit on the right side of his car in Turn 3 by overall leader Scott Dixon. The steering on Power’s car was broken, meaning he had to be pushed into pit lane. He didn’t finish the race.
Dixon was assessed a drive-through penalty for entering a closed pit lane. He was able to get back into the race on Lap 60, moving into fourth spot but finished 10th.
Newgarden jumped into fourth in the driver standings by picking up 53 points with his victory. Dixon still maintains the Verizon IndyCar Series lead with 423 points, but has just a three point edge on Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves.
Although the rain played a factor into how Newgarden and his Penske crew strategized for the race, he says this victory feels a little bit easier than his last one in Toronto.
"The more you do it, the more you drive the cars, the easier it all becomes," he said.
"This is the second time that a yellow has fell in my favour here in Toronto, too, so I don’t know if it’s just a bit of Canadian luck but it seems to give it to me here."
Notes: Canadian singer-songwriter Tom Cochrane served as the grand marshal for the pre-race ceremonies. …Honda Canada extended its partnership with the race through 2020 earlier Sunday. …The Verizon IndyCar Series has a week off before returning for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on July 30.