Bourdais Speeds To Toronto Pole

Sebastien Bourdais celebrates winning the pole in Toronto. (Al Steinberg photo)
Sebastien Bourdais celebrates winning the pole in Toronto. (Al Steinberg photo)
Sebastien Bourdais celebrates winning the pole in Toronto. (Al Steinberg photo)

TORONTO – The top four championship contenders for the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship will start in the top five positions on the grid for Saturday’s Honda Indy Toronto 2 in T.O. but it was a return to the pole position for a driver who used to win poles on a regular basis.

Sebastien Bourdais of France won his first pole since Assen in September 2007 and his first pole since the Champ Car/IndyCar merger in February 2008 during Saturday morning’s qualifications at Toronto’s Exhibition Place.

Bourdais’ KV Racing Chevrolet turned a fast lap of 58.9479 around the 11-turn, 1.75-mile temporary street course in the closing moments of Saturday’s Firestone “Fast Six” qualifications to win the pole for Saturday afternoon’s Honda Indy Toronto Two in T.O. – a race set to start at 3:55 p.m. ET.

“The track was getting better,” Bourdais said. “Most of everybody was waiting behind us and when they said, ‘Alright pit now, we’re going to put on the other set of tires and try it again,’ and we’re like, ‘OK are you sure about this?’ and it worked to perfection They made it happen for me and the Hydroxycut machine was really strong in qualifying today.

“It’s a bit of casino race here. Anything can happen. But we keep on displaying pace and showing up at the front, so hopefully at some point it’s going to break and we’re going to make it.”

It was the 32nd pole of Bourdais’ career and ties Michael Andretti for eighth all-time. Bourdais is the 10th different pole winner in 13 races in 2014.

Helio Castroneves of Team Penske takes a nine-point lead over teammate Will Power in today’s race. Power starts on the outside of the front row and Castroneves the inside of Row Two with both drivers in Chevrolets.

Castroneves was on the pole with the session about to end before Bourdais was able to take the pole away from the Team Penske driver. He would go on to qualify third, his seventh top-five start in 2014.

“The PPG Chevy was strong, man. It was really strong,” Castroneves said. “We qualified third and we’re kind of upset about it. That’s a good thing! It’s a great position to start the race. Unfortunately our tires at the end were a little worse than some of the others and that was the difference. I feel like we will be very good for the race.”

Power finished second on the grid for Saturday’s first race of the weekend doubleheader with a fast lap of 59.102 in a Chevrolet. It’s his four front row start of 2014 but the first time he has advanced to the final round of six since the May 10 Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

Three-time IndyCar Series winner Ryan Hunter-Reay lines up fourth in a Honda for his fifth top-five start of the season and first since the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. He is 32 points behind Castroneves in the points standings.

Simon Pagenaud was fifth in a Honda and is also fourth in the standing, 50 points out of the lead. Tony Kanaan was sixth in a Chevrolet.

Scott Dixon, who swept both races in last year’s doubleheader, qualified 12th after brushing the wall in the second session of qualifications.