It had been a long and winding road between victories for Sebastien Bourdais.
Bourdais, driving the No. 11 Hydroxycut KVSH Racing car, claimed his 32nd Indy car career win in Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto by 3.3408 seconds over Verizon IndyCar Series championship front-runner Helio Castroneves.
Race 2, featuring a standing start, is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. (ET). The lineup for the companion 65-lap race on the 1.755-mile, 11-turn street circuit at Exhibition Place will be set by entrant points following Race 1. Castroneves and Team Penske teammate Will Power will be on the front row. Both races carry full points.
Bourdais broke a tie with Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy for eighth on the all-time win list.
“It’s really sweet. We had to fight and wait for it for a long time but today was just kind of one of these days when the stars align,” said Bourdais, who earned the Verizon P1 Award on July 19. “I guess I was not expecting it because here I know how things can go. Last year we were second and third and it’s great to get this win.”
Bourdais closed the 2007 season with victories at Surfers Paradise, Australia, and Mexico City – the latter on Nov. 11 -- to secure his fourth consecutive Champ Car World Series title for Newman/Haas Racing. He moved to Europe to compete in Formula One for two seasons, and then drove in the SuperLeague Formula in 2010.
Bourdais, 35, who resides in St. Petersburg, Fla., competed in nine Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2011 for Dale Coyne Racing, made 11 starts for Dragon Racing the next season and contested his first full season in 2013 with Dragon Racing.
His dominating victory was the first for KVSH Racing since Tony Kanaan won the 2013 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and its fourth overall. He was the ninth different winner, representing six teams, this season.
“He dominated from start to finish and we’re very proud of him,” team co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven said. “He’s had some unlucky breaks but showed today what a strong driver he is.”
Kanaan finished third for the second consecutive race in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, while teammate Scott Dixon – who swept the Toronto doubleheader last July – finished fifth. Simon Pagenaud, whose No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports car was involved in a Lap 1 incident that brought out a red flag to freeze the field, rallied to finish fourth.
Pagenaud reclaimed third place in the championship standings with 454 points. Castroneves, driving the No. 3 PPG Team Penske car, increased his points margin over Power from nine to 28 entering Race 2. Power climbed to ninth place after starting from the rear of the 23-car field.
Because of suspension work done during the second red flag because of a rain-slicked racetrack July 19, the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car rejoined the field on pit lane at the tail end. INDYCAR officials said that the starting lineup would be based on the order entering pit lane before the final red flag.
“You’ve got to capitalize on those opportunities, even if it’s an odd weekend,” Castroneves said. “We have go to take advantage of it and that’s what we did.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay, the winner at Iowa Speedway on July 12, was relegated to 21st place following contact on Lap 39 with Kanaan in Turn 4 that sent the No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport car to pit lane for repairs. Hunter-Reay, who was running second to Bourdais in the early part of the race, fell to fourth in the standings with 448 points.
Graham Rahal advanced five positions to finish sixth in the No. 15 National Guard Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing entry and Charlie Kimball improved 11 spots relative to his starting position to finish eighth in the No. 83 Levemir FlexTouch car for Chip Ganassi Racing. James Hinchcliffe of Oakville, Ontario, placed eighth.
Photo by Jordan Lenssen