Chevrolet Racing at Toronto: Practice recap, notebook





Return to Toronto welcomed by Team Chevy drivers, fans

Newgarden paces Chevrolet drivers in opening practice session on 1.786-mile circuit

TORONTO (July 15, 2022) — Extra autograph cards, featuring Dalton Kellett’s image and the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet, were ordered for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES race weekend at Exhibition Place.
Good move as the Toronto native could have devoted more than the hour allotted to greet fans Friday before the initial practice session on the 1.786-mile, 11-turn street circuit.

“I think it’s great having the race back and having a Canadian driving. It gives everyone a rooting interest after Hinch (James Hinchcliffe),” said 16-year-old Samantha Gould of Mississauga, who scored a signed “hero card” and photo.
Kellett was pleased to oblige. It’s been a busy week for the third-year AJ Foyt Racing driver as the series returns to the venue for the first time since 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve been in town for about a week, and it’s been busy but great to see the reception and how the city is embracing the event,” said Kellett, who has a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. “There is certainly more focus on you when it’s the hometown race. I’m happy to be back here. (The event is) going to be a big one and then for my whole career it’s definitely going to be a highlight. I will be racing hard for a good finish for the home crowd.”
Newgarden paces Chevrolet drivers in opening session

Two-time Toronto winner Josef Newgarden was the quickest Chevrolet driver in the 75-minute practice with a best lap of 1 minute, 0.7650 seconds in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.
He was .1560 of a second behind the leader of the initial session. A 60-minute practice Saturday morning precedes the three rounds of knockout qualifications. Felix Rosenqvist (above) was sixth-quick (1:00.7936) in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

“Pretty good start for us. I didn’t really know what to expect after not being here since 2019,” Newgarden said. “Across our three cars, we had different plans of attack. (The track) I thought had really good grip. I was surprised that the balance was more secure than I thought it was going to be. Not too dissimilar to ’19. There are definitely a couple of sections that they could grind down just to help us over the bumps.

“I was really happy with my car. I thought toward the end of the session we really got close, did a couple of positive changes and I feel really good about going into tomorrow with the Hitachi Chevy car.”
Tying the record or first repeat pole winner?

Will there be a repeat NTT P1 Award winner for the first time in 10 races this season? Chevrolet drivers have accounted for six pole starts. The modern-day record for most different pole winners to start a season is 10 in 1952. The record for most pole winners in a season is 12 in 1999.

“There is no one that is dominating, no one stands out,” said Will Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who is second to Mario Andretti on the all-time list with 64 career pole starts. “You can try to pick the polesitter for this weekend. You simply couldn’t. Even the drivers, you couldn’t pick who might be on pole, which to me is a great thing.”

Newgarden set a qualifying mark of 58.4129 seconds (110.072 mph) for the current layout in 2019.
Peacock will stream the three rounds of knockout qualifications at 2 p.m. ET Saturday in addition to the race at 3 p.m. ET Sunday. Qualifying and the race will also be broadcast on INDYCAR Radio Network affiliates, SiriusXM 160 and the INDYCAR app.

Busy summer stretch will impact title chase

The race in Toronto begins a stretch of five races in four weeks that ends with the Nashville street circuit race Aug. 7. Chevrolet drivers have won seven of the nine races, including a sweep of the three street races.

That schedule, with 270 available points, will have an impact on the championship chase. Power, a three-time winner at Toronto, is 20 points out of the lead. Newgarden is third in the standings (34 points arrears), while Pato O’Ward, driving the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, is 65 points out.

“When you start having good runs on the board, you’re right there in the points, it does give you confidence,” said Power, the 2014 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion who won at Detroit in June. “You’re obviously feeling good about the situation. You’re not feeling like you have to do anything desperate, you’re just having to execute. You’re sitting in that sweet spot of performance.”

Back to Indy 500 engines for Chevrolet entries

Chevrolet INDYCAR program manager Rob Buckner said that nine of the 10 Chevrolet entries had their Indianapolis 500 engines reinstalled for the race weekend as the previous 2.2-liter V6, twin-turbocharged engines reached their mileage limit. Kellett’s No. 4 car is off-sequence and did not receive an engine change.

The engine cover of Kellett’s No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet features a nod to his Canadian roots — red and black plaid with a white maple leaf and the popular “eh?” … Kyle Kirkwood, driver of the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet for AJ Foyt Racing, won both U.S. F2000 Series (now the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship) races in 2018 on the Exhibition Place circuit. He won the back end of the Indy Pro 2000 Series doubleheader in 2019. “Toronto was always one of my favorite tracks in the lower categories. I really like street courses and Toronto is special, just the characteristics of the track are so much different from anywhere else we go. It’s just a ton of fun.” … Chevrolet has won seven of the 10 races at Toronto since the Bowtie’s return to NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition in 2012.