French driver Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske showed the NTT IndyCar Series how to celebrate Bastille Day.
Pagenaud capped a near-perfect weekend in Canada by dominating the Honda Indy Toronto, scoring his third victory of the season - the 14th of his career - on France's national day.
The pole sitter led 80 of the 85 laps at Exhibition Place and held back five-time series champion Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing in the late going to score his first victory on the 11-turn, 1.786-mile temporary street circuit.
"I'm very proud to fly the French flag here in a cousin country, which is Canada," said Pagenaud, the winner of this year's Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. "I guess (countryman Julian Alaphilippe) is leading the Tour de France today on the bike. I felt like I had to do the same."
Pagenaud was only threatened a couple of times, the first being in the opening-lap dash to Turn 1. Dixon challenged him but couldn't execute the pass. From there, Pagenaud began building a lead, which became eight seconds before he incurred traffic in the final laps.
"We took off and the car handled really well," Pagenaud said, driver of the No. 22 DXC Technology Chevrolet. "We definitely had an advantage on the tire wear. I knew we had a really good race car. We were able to match the Honda power (of Dixon) pretty well; (it) helped us to perform even better, so thanks to Chevy."
Said Dixon: "(Pagenaud's) straight-line speed was ridiculous today, to be honest."
Dixon's No. 9 PNC Bank Honda was hampered by wall contact early in the race. He drove the rest of the way with the steering wheel misaligned.
"I made a mistake, a pretty big mistake, probably around Lap 12 or 15 where I hit the inside wall on (Turn) 9," he said. "Bent the suspension pretty bad. I thought I had a (tire) puncture."
Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport finished third, one position ahead of series points leader Josef Newgarden of Team Penske. The first four finishers are the top four drivers in the standings heading to Saturday night's Iowa 300, a short-oval race at Iowa Speedway.
With Rossi, Dixon and Rossi finishing ahead of Newgarden, the championship race tightened. Rossi drew to four points with six races remaining. Pagenaud, who scored the maximum number of points in this race, is 39 points of the lead with Dixon 86 back.
Ontario native James Hinchcliffe of Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports finished sixth in his home race. He was the driver who advanced the highest number of positions (eight) among the entire field.
Another Toronto-area native - driver Robert Wickens, who finished third here last year - gave the race an inspirational start by driving a specially prepared Acura NSX. Wickens, who is rehabilitating use of his legs following a racing accident 11 months ago, used hand controls developed by Arow to drive around the track and gave the command to start the race.
Wickens' fiancé, Karli Woods, rode with him during the two laps around the track.
Honda Indy Toronto race results
Click HERE to view and download the official race results of the Honda Indy Toronto.
TORONTO - Results Sunday of the Honda Indy Toronto NTT IndyCar Series event on the 1.786-mile streets of Toronto's Exhibition Place circuit, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 85, Running
2. (2) Scott Dixon, Honda, 85, Running
3. (4) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 85, Running
4. (5) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 85, Running
5. (3) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, 85, Running
6. (14) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 85, Running
7. (16) Colton Herta, Honda, 85, Running
8. (8) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 85, Running
9. (12) Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
10. (7) Marco Andretti, Honda, 85, Running
11. (17) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, 85, Running
12. (6) Ed Jones, Chevrolet, 84, Running
13. (18) Zach Veach, Honda, 84, Running
14. (13) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 84, Running
15. (9) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 84, Running
16. (11) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 84, Running
17. (22) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 84, Running
18. (15) Will Power, Chevrolet, 83, Contact
19. (19) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 83, Running
20. (20) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 81, Running
21. (21) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 79, Running
22. (10) Takuma Sato, Honda, 67, Mechanical
Winner's average speed: 100.900 mph
Time of Race: 1:30:16.4388
Margin of victory: Under caution
Cautions: 2 for 3 laps
Lead changes: 3 among 3 drivers
Pagenaud, Simon 1 - 17
Sato, Takuma 18
Veach, Zach 19 - 22
Pagenaud, Simon 23 - 85
NTT IndyCar Series point standings: Newgarden 434, Rossi 430, Pagenaud 395, Dixon 348, Power 306, Sato 301, Hunter-Reay 285, Rahal 266, Hinchcliffe 244, Rosenqvist 239.