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Friday December 15th, 2017 9:01AM

Simon Pagenaud takes Toronto IndyCar pole

By The Associated Press
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TORONTO (AP) — Simon Pagenaud took the pole Saturday for the IndyCar race Sunday at Exhibition Place.

Pagenaud had a track-record lap of 58.9124 seconds at an average speed of 109.138 mph on the 1.786-mile street course for his first pole of the season and 10th overall.

The Frenchman, the defending series champion who won this this year on the oval in Phoenix, gave Team Penske its eighth pole in 11 races this season.

"It was a really good lap, one of the best I've ever put together," Pagenaud said. "Certainly, there is not much more in it, but the whole qualifying I worked on details and driving. My teammates, they are tremendous, it's such a good atmosphere when we work together.

"Each practice we talked about how we manage the corners and we keep improving each other. I feel like I really extracted the best out of my car, the best out of my setup today. It's obviously the most satisfying thing and that is what I'm always seeking for."

Graham Rahal was second Saturday for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, followed by Penske's Helio Castroneves and Will Power, and Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon. Power won last year.

"Honestly, I think on used tires, it's probably the best lap I've ever put together to put us P2," Rahal said. "The Penskes looked like they were going to run away with this thing. I'm so geeked for this team. These boys have worked so hard and, man, I couldn't be more proud of them. That was awesome."

Hometown favorite James Hinchcliffe qualified sixth for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. He trailed for most of the first round of qualifying, but rallied to advance into the second after rookie Esteban Gutierrez's crash.

"The last shootout in Q2 is always exciting," said Hinchcliffe, the winner this year at Long Beach. "You're just trying to save your life and give it everything you've got. We turned this into a podium last year, so fingers crossed we've got a strong race car and things go our way in the race."

Gutierrez crashed near the end of the first round, hitting the wall on the straightaway to the finish line. His car caught fire, but the former Formula One driver escaped without injury.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Auto Racing, Formula One Racing, Indy Car Racing
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