• Takuma Sato charges from 22nd to fifth for Honda
• Justin Wilson, Josef Newgarden lead race on rain tire gamble that comes up short
In a race that had a little bit of everything – from a mid-race rain shower to the fact it was the second points-paying Verizon IndyCar Series race in a single day, to a multi-car collision that resulted in a late-race red flag – Justin Wilson and his Dale Coyne Racing team gambled and came close to pulling off an unexpected victory in the second race of Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto, but ultimately came up short in the last two laps, and faded to a 10th-place finish.
Attempting to complete the race with just a single pit stop, Wilson switched from dry weather “slicks” to treaded “rain tires” on his Lap 11 stop after showers dampened the 1.755-mile Exhibition Place temporary street circuit. Several other Honda drivers and teams – including Josef Newgarden and Carlos Huertas, made the same strategic choice, and on Lap 45 of what became a 56-lap, timed event, were running 1-2-3 with Wilson in front, followed by Newgarden and Huertas.
But the showers had ended ten laps earlier, and as the track rapidly dried during the final minutes of the 1 hour, 20-minute contest, eventual winner Mike Conway advanced quickly through the field, after being among the first to change back to slick tires on Lap 43. When the race was briefly stopped on Lap 51 for a multi-car collision in Turn 3, Conway had moved up to second, behind only Wilson.
When the green waved for the final time on Lap 52, Conway was quickly through for his second victory of 2014, followed by a string of dry-tire-shod competitors. This group included Takuma Sato, who capped his best run of the season with a fifth-place finish after starting 22nd.
Rookie Jack Hawksworth also moved up on dry tires in the final laps, finishing sixth, his best result since finishing third in Houston earlier this month. Wilson took the checkers a disappointed 10th, while Newgarden fell to 13th as his rain tires also faded on the now-dry circuit.
Takuma Sato (#14 A.J. Foyt Racing Honda) started 22nd, finished 5th, first top-five finish of 2014: “Toronto is a great event, as always. We've been unlucky all this season, but we bounced back strong and finishing as the highest Honda powered car makes me proud. The race was really tricky--the dry to wet to dry tires. The guys did a great job in the pits. We never lost motivation. I really enjoyed the race & hopefully we'll be strong the rest of the season."
Justin Wilson (#19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda) started 15th, finished 10th: “That’s just the way our season has been going. We made what I believe was the right call [remaining on treaded, wet-weather ‘rain’ tires to complete the race with just a single pit stop] and we tried to make it work, but events conspired against us. If it had continued to rain just a little bit longer, or if the red flag had not come out for that last crash in Turn 3, I believe we would have had a least a podium finish, and perhaps a win. But it wasn’t to be for us today.”
Art St. Cyr (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s two-race Honda Indy Toronto: “It was a very challenging weekend, to say the least, as our teams dealt with the weather, the delays, the compressed schedule and two races in one day. It’s unfortunate that the race results weren’t what we were hoping for, but out teams and HPD are going to redouble our efforts as we head to our home track at Mid-Ohio in two weeks.”