CHAMPCAR/CART: Edmonton: Pre-race notes, schedule

WHO'S HOT A.J. Allmendinger ( ...

WHO'S HOT

A.J. Allmendinger (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) scored his third consecutive win with his victory in Toronto. With last week's win Allmendinger took over the second position in the points standings 23 points behind leader Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Last year in Edmonton, Allmendinger won his first career pole and led 40 laps before making slight contact with the wall in turn 11 which relegated him to a 14th place finishing spot.

Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has recorded six top-five finishes, four of those being runner-up finishes, and one pole position at the street circuit in Toronto. Last year in Edmonton Wilson started from the outside pole position, led four laps, but spun during a caution period. He was able to recover from the bobble and finish fourth.

Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) re-took the lead in the Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year standings in Toronto with his fourth top-ten run of the year. The Australian began his day in the twelfth position and climbed into seventh before the checkered flag waved. He gained an extra championship point for improving the most positions during the day and tied his best career finish.

After scoring his first podium finish in Milwaukee, Nelson Philippe (#4 CTE Racing-HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has been making headlines each week. In the last two events the French teenager has led a total of forty-one laps, but has not been able to transform them into a first win. In Toronto, Philippe was contending for a top-five finish when he made contact with another car and was relegated back to a thirteenth place finish. In Edmonton last year he started in the twelfth position and climbed three positions to finish ninth.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

During the inaugural Grand Prix of Edmonton Sebastien Bourdais showed that he knew how to adapt to new tracks better than anyone on the circuit, when he was the first to take the checkered flag. The Frenchman recovered from a tenth-place starting position and led 12 laps on the day before celebrating in victory lane.

Oriol Servia (#6 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) had a close battle with Bourdais, but came up 0.596 short of taking the top spot on the podium. Servia qualified in the fourth position for last year's Grand Prix and led two laps on the way to his runner up finish.

Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) gave his fellow Canadians a thrill by leading 30 laps during last year's Edmonton Grand Prix. After starting the day in the third position Tracy led the second most laps during the event, before crossing the finish line in the third position.

In last year's Atlantic race Katherine Legge (#20 Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) recorded her second of three wins during her rookie campaign in the series. She started the day in the third position, then made her move on lap 19 to pace the last 14 revolutions around the airport circuit. Currently Legge is tied for second in the Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year standings with fellow Brit Dan Clarke (#14 CTE Racing-HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone).

NOTEWORTHY

A.J. Allmendinger became the first American driver since Al Unser Jr. to win three consecutive Champ Car races when he took victory in Toronto. Unser is also the last American to win four in a row, having turned the trick in 1990.

The top-four drivers in last year's Edmonton event were separated by just 1.615 seconds at the end of the race. That was the closest margin that the top-four drivers were separated by in a race all season, and was the closest on a road or street course since the Belle Isle (Detroit) event in 1999.

Last year's inaugural Champ Car race in Edmonton was the most successful series event ever to be held in Canada, topping the 200,000 mark for the three days.

The Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year battle has been one of the closest on the circuit. Will Power reclaimed the lead with a seventh-place run in Toronto, ending Dan Clarke's two-race run at the top. Clarke and Katherine Legge are just six points behind Power.

Sebastien Bourdais won the first four races of the year and if A.J. Allmendinger can make it four straight with an Edmonton win, it would mark the first time in 38 years that two drivers had won four straight Champ Car races in a row in the same season. Al Unser and his brother Bobby both accomplished the feat in 1968. It would also mark the first time since 1980 that the first eight races of the season had been shared between just two drivers. The last such streak came in 1980 and Johnny Rutherford and Bobby Unser split the first nine races of the season.

Bruno Junqueira's win in Monterrey last season gave him victories in each of his first five seasons as a Champ Car driver. A win this season would make the Newman/Haas Racing pilot the first driver since Bobby Rahal (1982-87) to earn wins in each of his first six years in the series.

The Edmonton track was extraordinarily kind to rookies last year as three first-year pilots finished in the top 10. Interestingly, none of the trio is in Champ Car in 2006. Ronnie Bremer placed sixth, Marcus Marshall was eighth and Ricardo Sperafico was 10th.

DID YOU KNOW?

Edmonton is known as the "Gateway to the North" since it was a major pit stop before pioneers headed north or further west. Today Edmonton serves as the northern anchor of the "Calgary-Edmonton Corridor", one of four such regions that, in total, comprise 50% of the Canadian population. It is Canada's second most populous provincial capital after Toronto. The oil refineries and oil production are the basis of many Edmonton jobs, earning the town the name "Oil Capital of Canada". Edmonton's development began in 1795 when the Hudson's Bay Company Trading Post was established and eventually became known as Fort Edmonton. In the 1870s more people began to settle around Fort Edmonton, after the government offered the land to settlers at a good price. Today Edmonton is known as "Canada's Festival City" with virtually non-stop summertime celebrations, which draws visitors from far and wide. Last year a new celebration was added when the Champ Car World Series staged the first three day festival of speed at City Centre Raceway, the Edmontonians embraced the event making it the highest attended new event on last year's calendar.

BY THE NUMBERS

150 -- How many feet grand stand B was moved, so it would be closer to the start/finish line. 121.150 -- Last year's pole speed set by A.J. Allmendinger. 12 -- How many points separate fourth place Alex Tagliani and tenth place Nelson Philippe in the title chase. 12 -- How many laps Sebastien Bourdais won on the way to last year's Edmonton victory. 5 -- Edmonton is the fifth largest municipality in Canada. 3- How many caution flags flew during last year's inaugural event. 0.596 -- The margin of victory between Sebastien Bourdais and Oriol Servia last year.

FAST FACTS

WHAT: West Edmonton Mall Champ Car Grand Prix Presented by The Brick

WHERE: JAGflo Speedway, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

WHEN: Friday--Sunday, July 21-23

SUPPORT EVENTS: Champ Car Atlantic, CASCAR, Drifting

CHAMP CAR SCHEDULE (All times local): FRIDAY, JULY 21 -- 9:15 - 10:00 a.m., Atlantic practice; 10:15 - 11:30 a.m., Champ Car practice; 1:15 - 1:45, Atlantic qualifying; 2:00 - 3:00 p.m., Champ Car qualifying. SATURDAY, JULY 22 - 9:45--10:15 a.m., Atlantic practice; 10:30--11:30 a.m., Champ Car practice; 1:15 - 1:45, Atlantic qualifying; 2:00 - 3:00 p.m., Champ Car qualifying. SUNDAY, JULY 23 - 8:00 - 8:30 a.m., Champ Car warmup; 8:45 - 9:00 a.m., Atlantic warmup; 11:00 a.m., WEST EDMONTON MALL GRAND PRIX; 2:00 - 3:00 p.m., Atlantic race.

U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE (Eastern Time): SUNDAY, JULY 23 -- West Edmonton Mall Champ Car Grand Prix Presented by The Brick, 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time CBS Sports (live)

2005 CHAMPION: Sebastien Bourdais
2005 POLESITTER: A.J. Allmendinger

TRACK LAYOUT: 1.973-mile airport course
RACE LENGTH: 85 laps (167.705 miles)

TRACK RECORDS: Qualifying (one lap) -- 2005, A.J. Allmendinger, 58.628 seconds (121.150 mph). Race -- 2005, Sebastien Bourdais, 1:38:55.730 (105.302 mph) based on 88 laps (173.624 miles)

RACE ROUND: 8 of 15 in the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

2006 CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES POINTS LEADERS: 1, Sebastien Bourdais, Newman/Haas Racing, 191; 2, A.J. Allmendinger, Forsythe Championship Racing, 168; 3, Justin Wilson, RuSPORT, 165; 4, Andrew Ranger, Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing and Alex Tagliani, Team Australia, 110; 6, Paul Tracy, Forsythe Championship Racing, 108.

INSTANT REPLAY: 200,000 fans poured through the gates over the weekend to welcome the Champ Car World Series to Edmonton and the stars of the series did not disappoint the massive crowds. Sebastien Bourdais won the inaugural Edmonton Champ Car event, coming from 10th on the grid to take the victory as one leader after another took themselves out of contention in the race's final laps. Polesitter A.J. Allmendinger led a race-high 40 laps, pacing the event ahead of Paul Tracy while Bourdais languished mid-pack. Tracy made a strong pass of Allmendinger to take the lead on Lap 19, but gave it back when Allmendinger and Justin Wilson hounded Tracy into a rare mistake, flatspotting his tires on a deep braking move which took the handling away from Tracy's machine. Wilson slipped into the lead on lap 49 and he and Allmendinger built a 20-second lead on the field before Bjorn Wirdheim's crash brought out the caution with 12 laps to go. Wilson took himself out by spinning on cold tires on the way back to the green, while Allmendinger hit the wall while trying to fight off Bourdais. Bourdais took the lead with nine laps to go and rolled away from Oriol Servia while Tracy rounded out the podium.

-cc

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ricardo Sperafico , Justin Wilson , Al Unser Jr. , Bruno Junqueira , Bobby Rahal , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Bobby Unser , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Katherine Legge , Bjorn Wirdheim , Nelson Philippe , Ronnie Bremer , Marcus Marshall , Andrew Ranger , Will Power , Dan Clarke , Al Unser
Teams Conquest Racing