Pit Strategy is key to the majority of IndyCar races but even more so on the tight road/street courses. It was no different at the Honda Indy Toronto on the streets of Toronto this past weekend, either.
Strategies can sometimes be awesome and help a driver during the race, however, sometimes strategies can also bite the driver. Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan are prime examples of how strategies can be harmful to a race.
Dixon, who had started out on the pole for the race, led the first 26 laps of the race before making his first green flag pit stop of the day. The New Zealand driver then took the lead back on lap 30 once everyone had made their stops and kept the lead until Lap 59. The caution would fly before he got back down pit road, resulting in a loss of track position once he came down pit road for another pit stop and never could get back to the front. The 2015 IndyCar Champion finished the race in the eighth position.
“Obviously not the result that we wanted today for Team Target after starting on pole and leading all those laps in the first few stints,” Dixon said. “It was looking like it was going to be our race all afternoon but the timing of how everything worked out just took it away from us. It was just about as frustrating of a race as you can have.”
His teammate Kannan started the race in the 12th position but quickly moved to the front, including a move to pit off sequence from most of the other drivers. Notably, when teammate Dixie gave up the lead to pit, Kanaan inherited the lead. He led 15 laps and was close to winning the race but because he was off sequence, he had to come down pit road and get gas. After making his pit stop for gas, the 2013 Indy 500 Champion came off pit road in the fourth position in front of Takuma Sato, where he ended up finishing the race.
“I think we had something for (James) Hinchcliffe,” Kanaan said. “For sure, I think they had to save fuel and I didn’t. It was a risky move for us but it worked out. Big props to Todd (Malloy, lead engineer), Barry (Wanser, strategist) and my NTT Data guys. We’re getting there… we’re getting closer and closer every weekend.”