Power Tops Opening Day Of Practice For Honda Indy Toronto
Defending Honda Indy Toronto winner Will Power, laid down the quickest lap of the two sessions (1:00.5581) as IZOD IndyCar Series teams began preparations for the Honda Indy Toronto.
Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, was quicker than the IZOD IndyCar Series qualifying record circuit. Scott Dixon in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car was second (1:00.6656) and championship points leader Dario Franchitti in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car was third (1:00.9741).
Six different teams were represented in the top 10 (separated by less than six-tenths of a second). Tony Kanaan, the runner-up in the Iowa Corn Indy 250 on June 25, was fifth quick in the No. 83 GEICO KV Racing Technology-Lotus car. Justin Wilson, the pole sitter last year, was sixth in the No. 22 Z-Line Designs/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car. Oriol Servia, competing for the eighth time in Toronto, was seventh on the chart in the No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing car, and Ryan Briscoe was eighth in the No. 6 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske entry.
Helio Castroneves had a quick lap of 1:01.1791 in the No. 3 Penske Truck Rentals car, and Danica Patrick was 10th in the No. 7 Team GoDaddy entry for Andretti Autosport. Paul Tracy of Toronto, returning to Dragon Racing for the first time since the Brazil event in early May, was 17th
Also on July 8, with limited time on the 1.755-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit, Stefan Wilson sought to make every lap count.
The 45-minute session was the only one of the busy track day for Firestone Indy Lights, with another 45-minute practice July 9 preceding qualifications for the July 10 race. Esteban Guerrieri in the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car was second quick (1:05.9064) and series points leader Josef Newgarden (1:06.2070) was third in the No. 11 Copart/Big Score/Robo-Pong/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car.
Daniel Herrington, who competed at Toronto in 2009 (advancing nine positions to finish ninth), was fourth quick (1:06.5076) in his series season debut in the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry. Peter Dempsey, who joined Andretti Autosport for this race weekend, was fifth (1:06.6555).
DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:
Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, INDYCAR medical director: Simona de Silvestro has been cleared to resume racing activities.
Sam Schmidt Motorsports signed Martin Plowman to a three-race deal for the IZOD IndyCar Series. The Englishman, who will drive the No. 17 car fielded through a partnership between Sam Schmidt Motorsports and AFS Racing, will be supported by Kingdom Racing for races at Mid-Ohio, Sonoma, and Baltimore.
MARTIN PLOWMAN: "I'm thrilled to finally complete one of my goals, driving in the IZOD IndyCar Series. This day is the one I have been looking forward to for the last 15 years. Team Plowey and I have worked tirelessly, and we're thankful for the opportunity Sam [Schmidt] has given me. Sam Schmidt Motorsports has proven themselves for years in Indy Lights and now this season in IndyCar, having won the pole position at both Indy and Texas. It will be a great partnership." (About debuting at Mid-Ohio): "Mid-Ohio is without a doubt one of my favorite circuits. Making my debut there, especially in a red and yellow car, makes it even more sentimental. Special thanks must go to Gary Peterson of AFS for helping make this deal happen. I have a great feeling about my IndyCar debut."
ROB EDWARDS (Sam Schmidt Motorsports team manager): "I have been following Martin since last year and am delighted that he finally has the opportunity to show his talents in an IndyCar. He has worked incredibly hard outside of the car to make this happen and I know that same work ethic will bring results on track. We have wanted to grow our team to two cars since the end of last season and I am excited that we are going to achieve that goal together."
GEORGE DEL CANTO (Kingdom Racing owner): "We couldn't be more pleased to be able to support Martin Plowman. Martin will represent our mission field in INDYCAR very well."
Kim Green, co-owner of Green Savoree Toronto, attended the first race on the streets of Toronto in 1986, and now has a part in continuing its growth.
"Canadian fans are without a doubt equal to any fan in the world and I think this year we are adding not only from an infrastructure standpoint but you are going to see a very exciting lineup of race cars racing on the streets of Toronto," Greene said.
The ownership group, which incldues Kevin Savoree, has invested in the infrastructure of the street circuit with the installation of new blocks and fencing around the 1.755-mile, 11-turn circuit. It's safer for drivers and easier to put up and dismantle.
"That makes it less inconvenient for the city," race general manager Charlie Johnstone said.
Hey, Alex Tagliani of Quebec, what does the race mean to you?
"Racing in Canada is always important to me," he said. "The pole at Indy has brought us a lot of new fans and recognition. We created a lot of excitement as the underdog favorite in May. It was a popular pole to get since we stopped the domination of the big teams.
"I think me getting the Indy pole helps motorsports in Canada. Toronto has been revamped and I think Kevin Savoree, Kim Green and Charlie Johnstone have done an amazing job with their team to promote the race. It's also a big race for my sponsor Bowers & Wilkins. They just introduced a line in Future Shops around Canada. So the timing is important. It's a very big deal."
IZOD INDYCAR SERIES PRACTICE QUOTES:
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, fastest of the day): "The Verizon car is good, but we are still not quick enough. We put tires on there at the end of the second practice and no one else did. We are just a bit off the pace. We still have a few things in mind to improve the car. It is great to be in Toronto, though, and really good to see all the fans."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, second fastest): "It's definitely cool to be back at a street course, especially Toronto. It's a fun circuit. It's definitely different than the last four races with all left hand turns and now coming back to a bumpy circuit. The track seems to be a little bumpier, especially going into Turn 1 and maybe down the backstraight as well. It's created a few new issues that we haven't had here before. The times actually seem surprisingly quick. Even on the primary tires, we only seems to be five-tenths off the quick times of the options."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Penske Truck Rental, ninth-fastest): "Overall, it was a good day for the Penske Truck Rental team. Right off the bat, the car had good balance and good speed here in Toronto. We didn't put on new tires at the end of the last practice - I wanted to, but my new strategist (John Erickson) is already working on trying something different so I listened to him! I love the yellow car and the yellow suit of Penske Truck Rental. It reminds me of Dancing with the Stars. Let's hope we have the same kind of result this weekend!"
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske, eighth-fastest): "It was a good couple of sessions for us today in the No. 6 PPG Automotive Refinish car. We made a lot progress from one session to the next and I feel we're right on track for tomorrow as we prepare for qualifying. We worked on just finding the right balance on the car with the new tire here in Toronto and getting back into the groove of street course racing. We felt pretty good by the end of the second session."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Andretti Autosport): "This morning was OK. We were playing around with some different things and we seemed to find a bit of a direction. This afternoon, we just didn't learn anything. The car just didn't feel good, but we know what it is and we just have to improve on it, basically. We'll just go back, see what we have and go from there."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): "We were third-quick in the first session, so we had a good morning - and I think we were having a good afternoon. The DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop car was feeling pretty good; we were in the top five until we decided not to take new tires like most of the top 10 did. But, we'll just save those for tomorrow and hopefully it will pay off for us."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): "No major problems today. We made some good sensible changes, which led to step-by-step improvements. It was a good first day. Now we have to maintain that progress tomorrow."
PAUL TRACY (No. 8 Make-A-Wish Dragon Racing): "Today was a decent day for the Make a Wish Dragon Racing car. We made changes during both practices trying to get the car right where we wanted it to be. Tonight we will go back to make more changes to get ready for tomorrow morning's practice session and qualifying."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Dr Pepper): "We weren't able to get a true feel for the Dr Pepper car in the second session today. After our first run we decided to make some changes that would take us back toward the set-ups that my teammates are running. But we had some problems making the changes and were still in the pits when the checkered came out. It's a little frustrating but we'll make some changes tonight and go back at it tomorrow morning."
E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "Toronto is going to be a very difficult race for everyone. The field is extremely tight and just one tenth will make a huge difference where we start. Today we worked as a team with each driver going steadily through their list and we believe that we will come up with a good setup for tomorrow's qualifying. We had a few little issues in the first practice session today and I was unable to use my second set of tires, but that's part of the game. We just need to keep working hard in practice and qualifying tomorrow."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "It was a good test because we were able to try various things. Unfortunately, some of the things we tried didn't work out the way we thought they would, but it was good that we found that out during today's test. Now we will review what we collected to determine the best setup for tomorrow's final practice before qualifying."
JUSTIN WILSON, No. 22 Z-Line Designs/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "I think that it has been a pretty good day. We seem fairly competitive and the car is very similar to last year, so I'm happy. We are making progress, but the downside is that everyone else is as well. The quickest time today is quicker than P3 in qualifying last year. It's going to be a strong pace and it's going to be a tight field and we've got to work hard at making it one of the best cars that we've ever had just to be competitive. I'm happy with the progress so far, but we can't relax."
ANA BEATRIZ, No. 24 Team Ipiranga/DRR): "We still need to improve a lot. I think that we made some changes that weren't very good and we went backwards. We put new tires on in the last stint and we did two laps but the temperature wasn't there yet so I couldn't get the grip that I wanted. I'm a little disappointed, but we must keep improving. We will have a night to sleep and think about it and tomorrow will be better."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): "We made some changes on the Telemundo car from the first session to the second session and when we started the second session I thought 'Wow, we got lucky again because the changes were awesome.' The Telemundo car felt great. So we were definitely able to guess where the track was going to go. Then through the session we tried some things we wanted to try and I was really unhappy at the end so actually I am surprised we were seventh fast. I thought we were going to be a lot worse because we put a set of tires on at the end but I couldn't really attack at all so it shows we have more in the car. I'm pretty happy with our progress right now and James is running well so there is potential. It seems like the baseline car is not too bad."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE ( No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): "I could definitely tell the difference between the Lights car and the Indy car on this track. This track gets tougher and tougher every year and in every car (series) you move up in. We took the first session to just get used to everything. Newman/Haas is doing a great job; I think both cars are pretty close. Obviously that last session went better than expected for the Sprott team. If I could have been knocking on the door of the top 10, we would have been pretty happy so to end up where we did is a great start."
TONY KANAAN (No. 82 GEICO - KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "It was a very positive day. You know, when the day starts well like today, it makes things a lot easier on everyone at the team. In the morning we waited for the track to rubber up and only made minor changes to the car. It was a good start to the weekend but what counts here is qualifying, and that is tomorrow."
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues with the Honda Indy Toronto on July 10 at Streets of Toronto. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 2 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM channel 94 and www.indycar.com. The 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Toronto 100 at Streets of Toronto on July 10. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at Noon. (ET) by VERSUS.