On a track where prior experience is expected to pay dividends, two veterans of the City Centre Airport topped the timesheets on Thursday's practice for the Rexall Edmonton Indy. KV Racing Technologies teammates Will Power and Oriol Servia led...
On a track where prior experience is expected to pay dividends, two veterans of the City Centre Airport topped the timesheets on Thursday's practice for the Rexall Edmonton Indy. KV Racing Technologies teammates Will Power and Oriol Servia led the pack, each in the 1:02.3 range, just edging another pairing in Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske.
Castroneves and Briscoe were quickest in the morning's session, with Castroneves the only driver to dip into the 1:02 bracket. By the late afternoon session, twelve drivers had reached that mark.
Both sessions were plagued by a number of full course cautions. Many drivers had grass crossing excursions during the day, struggling to adapt to the challenging and bumpy airport/road course.
"It was very difficult to get a lap, since there were lots of yellows," Power offered. "It's a normal track in that you have to drive well and be on track at the right time. There are a lot of huge bumps that can launch the car if you get it just a little bit wrong."
One such driver to experience what Power described was fellow Champ Car ex- patriot Bruno Junqueira, who suffered apparent suspension damage from a wild ride across the fast right hand kink at turn four. The Brazilian cracked the top ten in both sessions, 6th in the morning and 10th in the afternoon, but it remains to be seen if the incident will affect his pace for tomorrow's qualifying.
"He just lost it, launching off that curb pretty hard," Junqueira's team owner Dale Coyne said. "It's a tricky track, and everyone goes off at least once at this place."
Joining Junqueira in exploring the roads less traveled were his partner at Coyne's team Mario Moraes, Vision Racing's Paul Tracy and A.J. Foyt IV, and a number of others.
A popular figure this weekend is Tracy, making his much-touted return to IndyCar in the joint Vision/Walker Racing effort. Proving he has lost none of his speed since his last outing at Long Beach, "PT" was easily quickest of the Vision triumvirate finishing 7th and 8th in the two sessions.
"We all want to do well, our expectations are to do well, but I haven't set any type of goal on myself that we have to win the race," said Tracy. "We're just going to take it step by step every day. From my standpoint, this is my opportunity to get back in the (IndyCar) series."
Tracy caused the afternoon session's first full course yellow after an overcorrection under braking for the left-hand turn ten. He lost the back end and after recovering, made slight contact that damaged his front wing. It was nothing major and lest one forget his most recent open-wheel win, last year at Cleveland, came after Tracy used several in that event.
All but two drivers posted their quickest times in the second session. The exceptions were Hideki Mutoh and E.J. Viso, with Viso sitting out the second due to gearbox issues.
Six of the ten fastest drivers today have raced in Edmonton previously. All the drivers in the field now have some experience around the treacherous circuit and tomorrow's knockout qualifying session should be interesting to watch.