Scott Dixon’s early weekend pace is being interpreted as a warning shot by some of his rivals, even as the New Zealander sought to downplay his advantage.
Dixon ended the opening day of Verizon IndyCar Series practice in Toronto more than 0.4s clear of second-quickest driver Takuma Sato; a margin that prompted others along pitlane to prepare themselves for a long evening of studying data in search for a way to narrow the gap.
“There are a lot of cars pretty much on the same lap time, and then one car that is a step ahead of all of us,” said Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi. “We’ve got to put our heads together and figure out what it is, but generally, I think the performance has been good. We just need to make a good couple of changes overnight, and hopefully, close the gap.”
Teammate Marco Andretti shared the sentiment.
“We still need to find that four-and-a-half tenths to Dixon, he’s got that over all of us right now,” he said. “We need to be careful, though, that chasing that doesn’t detune us elsewhere. Right now, the car is, I think, a P2 car – we just need to find that gap to P1.”
Dixon was the tip of a Honda spear in the second session, with HPD-powered cars locking out the top five places on the timesheets, however Team Penske’s Will Power’s concerns are centered more around the No.9 Ganassi than the manufacturer situation.
“We didn’t get a very good run on reds,” said Power, who ended the second session in P16. “Unfortunately, I scraped the wall and bent a tow link, so had to change that, and then kind of ran out of time. But we’re in a good window apart from Dixon. He’s just got the whole field covered by a mile, but I think the No. 12 Verizon Chevy is right there in that front group.”
Dixon, however, said that he expects the gap to the field to close up naturally tomorrow once others zero in on how to use the reds.
“I think you could see some competitors found a little bit of time on reds,” he said. “I think sometimes it depends on the balance of the car, and we struggled sometimes – like at Detroit for the last two years, we’ve really struggled to get any pace out of the red tire, whereas this year we’ve done a slightly better job of that. I expect the competition to be very close tomorrow. There can be a big balance shift between those tires, and maybe we just hit it a little bit better than some of the others.”