Toronto: Series Friday report

HUNTER-REAY TOPS SESSION AS TEAMS OPEN PRACTICE AT TORONTO TORONTO (Friday, July 16, 2010) - Ryan Hunter-Reay remains one of the drivers to beat when the IZOD IndyCar Series visits a temporary street circuit. The Andretti Autosport driver, who...

HUNTER-REAY TOPS SESSION AS TEAMS OPEN PRACTICE AT TORONTO

TORONTO (Friday, July 16, 2010) - Ryan Hunter-Reay remains one of the drivers to beat when the IZOD IndyCar Series visits a temporary street circuit.

The Andretti Autosport driver, who won the last time the series visited a street course -- at Long Beach in mid-April -- raced to the top of the time chart with a lap of 1:02.1433 (101.668 mph) late in the second practice session as IZOD IndyCar Series teams opened preparations for the Honda Indy Toronto on the 1.75-mile, 11-turn circuit at Toronto's Exhibition Place.

Justin Wilson, driving the No. 22 Z-Line Designs car for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, was second quick (1:02.1839; 101.602) and Helio Castroneves in the No. 3 Team Penske car was third (1:02.2550; 101.486).

It's another tightly packed field as the top 13 cars were separated by less than a second.

Also on July 16, Toronto native James Hinchcliffe topped the time chart in the lone practice session for Firestone Indy Lights teams on the Exhibition Place course.

DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:

IZOD IndyCar Series technical information for the Honda Indy Toronto: Honda overtake assist

Overtake assist was introduced to the series in August 2009 and will make its debut on the streets of Toronto in the Honda Indy Toronto.

The system employed by Honda Performance Development is an ECU software alteration. It is activated by the driver via a button on the steering wheel and provides an extra 200 RPM (about 10 horsepower) to the Honda Indy V-8 engine. Parameters are updated before each race weekend to meet the circuit layout.

For the 1.75-mile, 11-turn Exhibition Place course:
15 uses
16 seconds duration each use
10-second recharge period between uses

Firestone Firehawk tires

Each car receives six sets (24 tires) of primary tires and three sets (12 tires) of the alternate (red-sidewall) tires.

The primary specification for Toronto is new in 2010, while the alternate spec is making an encore performance at the venue. The alternate spec was also used earlier this season at St. Petersburg and Long Beach.

The primary spec features new compounds and a slight tire construction change from the '09 Toronto spec, but is designed to mirror the performance of the Firestone primary spec used at the previous street-course races this season. The alternate tires are identical in construction to the primaries but contain a softer tread compound to provide more grip and faster lap times, yet will trade off compound durability in exchange for those shorter-term advantages.

Aero package

Toronto is in the road course/short oval category of aero packages for the IZOD IndyCar Series. Here are mandatory and optional items for teams:

Rear wings: Tire ramps and sidepod extensions are optional.
Front wings: Wing flaps are open development area. Maximum of two elements per side is permitted and a divider is mandatory.

***

Carmen Jorda and Tonis Kasemets will race for Andersen Racing in the Firestone Indy Lights race this weekend in Toronto. Both drivers last competed in the series' race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in April.

Jorda, a native of Alcoy, Spain, finished 10th in that event driving for the Palmetto, Fla.-based team but then sat out the three races. The 22-year-old who lives in Miami will be sponsored by ASAP Sports, NTGS.es, iHOLA!, Air Europa and pepetravel.com for the 50-lap Firestone Indy Lights race on Sunday morning that precedes the Honda Indy Toronto IZOD IndyCar Series race later that afternoon.

Tonis Kasemets, 36, is a native of Parnu, Estonia who lives in Mundelein, Ill. He finished sixth in the Long Beach Firestone Indy Lights race with Team PBIR. That was his only previous start in Firestone Indy Lights, but he drove in five Champ Car World Series races in 2006 for Rocketsport Racing. He was second in the Toyota Atlantic Championship in 2005. Kasemets' effort will be sponsored by Flexovit, a manufacturer and marketer of high-productivity abrasive products for the industrial, welding, and construction trades. Additional support will be provided by Northcentral Construction of Fond du Lac, Wis., and a local hotel, the Novotel Toronto North York located at 3 Park Home Ave. in North York, Toronto.

"We're very pleased that Carmen is back with us for Toronto and the remainder of the year, and we know that she is very excited to be back behind the wheel again," said team co-owner Dan Andersen. "This is her first season racing in America and racing in Firestone Indy Lights, and she is determined to learn as much as possible at every event so she can compete for the championship next year."

"We also welcome Tonis for this 'one-off' appearance," Andersen continued. "I have known him for many years, and have watched him produce excellent results on a shoestring budget. He is one of those very talented drivers who deserves a chance, and it is our pleasure to have him in one of our cars at Toronto. I know he will run at the front."

"It's good to be back in the saddle again," Kasemets said. "Dan and I got to know each other in two-liter cars, and we've known each other for a long time. We've always tried to keep in touch, and perfect timing brought us together to do this race.

"I've driven at Toronto in both Champ Car and Atlantic, so I'm familiar with the track," he added. "Walt Preston [Andersen Racing's Firestone Indy Lights engineer] and I have known each other for quite some time too. We're both old school, so we'll try to come up with a good set-up, have some fun and get some good results."

***

Open-wheel racing on the streets of Exhibition Place will receive facelifts each of the next two years.

The silver anniversary race in 2011 will have infrastructure and safety enhancements thanks to a $770,000 federal investment grant.

In 2012, the IZOD IndyCar Series' new cars will make their first appearance on the circuit.

"Basically, the grant is going to allow us to replace a substantial amount of the barrier and fence," said Kevin Savoree, co-owner of Green Savoree Promotions. "Kim Green and I have to match those funds. Most of the barrier and fence here is 24 years old. Obviously, there have been so many advancements in design and technology of barriers and fencing. It's going to be much safer for the drivers and fans, and it's going to allows us to move in and move out much faster so less headache for the commuters in Toronto.

"We needed to tackle a development program and what that grant allowed was to advance our construction plans by a few years. It was a win-win-win for everybody."

Green Savoree Promotions also owns the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which has grown each of its six years to be a destination race for fans in late March or early April (depending on where it lands in the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule). This is the second year in a row of the Honda Indy Toronto, which features the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights. It's also the second year the event has been run by Green and Savoree, former co-owners of Andretti Green Racing.

With their feet on the ground and notepads spilling over with ideas and input, they are encouraged by the sponsor support and what they've seen and heard from the ticket-buying public.

"In the racing vernacular, when you race somewhere you know what kind of setup to come back with the next year," Savoree said. "There were a lot of lessons we learned last year and applied the Honda process of reflection and went back to our offices here in Toronto and basically implemented a lot of changes.

"We used local vendors for the construction of the racetrack and it's been just seamless. We also changed media agencies, ticketing agencies - a lot of things we learned even to the detail for the caterers for our suites. We're looking forward to an exciting weekend from a commercial standpoint."

***

Reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti renewed acquaintances with Neil Lennon in Toronto of all places. Lennon, a star player for Celtic FC back in the day and now the Scottish Premier League team's manager, met up with the fellow Scot at a pub.

He brought along team captain Scott Brown and up-and-coming midfielder James Forrest. Franchitti, a lifelong fan of Celtic FC, presented Lennon a Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew shirt. Celtic FC played a friendly against Manchester United at the Rogers Center on July 16.

FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 2 Xtreme Coil Drilling Team Moore Racing): "We've had a good street course car all year obviously at St. Pete and Long Beach so I knew we'd have a strong baseline. But this track is a little bit different; it has an interesting mix of high- and low-speed corners that are a little tough to set up for and it seems to get bumpier every year so that throws us another curveball. It's also hot, so it was a slippery mess out there. I don't think the car is perfect yet. I think there's time in it and time in me, and that first session doesn't mean much but it's a good way to start off the weekend."

(About wanting to win in his home): "Watkins Glen was the one that got away, but I've been saying that was a lucky win for J.K. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. He was lucky. We were good. Luck runs out, but you don't run out of good. J.K. has been quick on the road courses all year so it's by no stretch going to be easy. They have a good package and we have a good package, so it just comes down to who makes the fewest mistakes."

J.K. VERNAY (No. 7 Lucas /CJ/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "I'm quite happy because I didn't know the track and the other drivers who are fighting for the championship know the track quite well, especially Hinchcliffe. The track is good, really quite bumpy, but we're improving everything and learning, so in light of that I think everything really went very well."

MARTIN PLOWMAN (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers/KEP Printing): "Finishing P3 was not a bad way to start the weekend. I knew coming into this weekend that the team has had a strong car here. This is a track I really like. Overall the car was good this session. I just feel that the conditions didn't really suit our setup really well. Once the track grips up, it will come to us. We'll keep working hard and see what we can do tomorrow

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 26 Levemir FlexPen): "It was a good first practice, exactly what we needed. We made some big changes to the car, which definitely helped. We got caught out on the checkered right at the end, and the grip on a road course is always crazy the entire time. I know the No. 26 Levemir FlexPen car will be quick. We have a little more work to do tonight. We're pretty close now, just a little bit more to come."

IZOD INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES

RYAN HUNTER REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD): "It was a good day and it's good to be back in Toronto. I love this place and it is great to see the fans turn out here in Toronto on Friday. The last street course we were on was Long Beach and the car was good. This is our first street course since then and our car is still good. Tomorrow is a new day. Most teams took new tires at the end of that session and so did we. We will see where we stack up, but I think we will definitely be top five tomorrow. I am pleased with how we started our weekend."

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Team Z-Line Designs/DRR): "It's always good to come back to Toronto. It's a track that I really like and always have fun driving on. It's obviously not the smoothest track we drive on but I think that adds character to the course. I want to thank everyone on the Dreyer and Reinbold Team who worked on the Z-Line Designs car; they gave me a good car today. It works really well and feels really good, but obviously we have plenty of room to improve. We have one area that we need to change, but hopefully after making those improvements tonight we'll be able to go a little faster tomorrow."

RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing): "We've had a reasonably good day. We had a few issues with the throttle sticking and that compromised the balance of the car a little bit, but it all worked out. The car was quite competitive and we know the track will continue to improve from a grip standpoint for qualifying tomorrow. We are just going to keep pushing and hopefully make the right changes for tomorrow."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy):"We struggled pretty badly in practice today. We went our own way set-up wise rather than using a similar set-up as my teammates. It didn't go as we had hoped, but the up side is that now we know exactly what we need to do. We'll make some changes and hopefully have the Venom car headed in the right direction tomorrow morning."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): "It was good work by Team Penske today. It's great to be back in Toronto and racing in front of these fans. We changed some things on the car from last year and it responded much better. We had two good practices but tomorrow is the real deal. We'll keep working hard and see what happens tomorrow in qualifying."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske): "It was a pretty good day. The Team Penske car is very close on balance and we're almost there. Today was really about managing our tires. I would have liked to run more laps, but we were saving our tires for qualifying and the race. Overall, we're pretty happy with the car and I'm looking forward to running with new tires tomorrow."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "It is tough out there. The competition is so tight. No one really has a big advantage here. You have to be up on the wheel and really drive the car hard. The Verizon car is pretty good right now, although we do have a bit of work to do in order to get it right where it needs to be for qualifying."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 NHR/Quick Trim): "It's nice to be back in an Indy car. It was a bit of a struggle this afternoon. We can't seem to figure out what it is the car wants and I'm a little bit lost to be honest. I don't really know too much of what we're looking for. But this is similar to our Friday here last year and we qualified third, so hopefully it will play out that way again this year. But it is nice to be back in the car. Every time I get back in car it feels so good, especially here in Toronto, a place I really do enjoy. I'm looking forward to tomorrow; I think we have a lot to gain. I'm hoping to put the Quick Trim car up front in qualifying."

HIDEKI MUTOH ( No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic): "The track is very slippery which is the same as last year. I think we made good progress today. Each session, I went fastest and I understand the reason why I went faster which helps us know the direction to continue in. Now I have a teammate in Graham and fresh data to compare to which is helpful. Our position doesn't look too good but I think we have potential. Today is only the first day and I have one more practice session before qualifying so I think we will be ready. I lost the backend of the car in Turn 1 and couldn't stop before hitting the wall. I'm sorry to create extra work for the guys."

PAUL TRACY (No. 15 Make A Wish - KV Racing Technology): "We started out pretty well this morning, but we had a little issue with the car in the afternoon. We really only got about five laps of running. We got the car back out to the pits with about two minutes to go, but we weren't going to get the tires up to temperature in that amount of time, so we didn't run. Right now, we'll baseline off of E.J.'s car in the morning. Our cars were pretty similar to begin with and he ended up in the top seven today. He thinks the changes they made were quite good. That puts us up an extra set of tires on the rest of the field for Saturday. We'll be ready to go in the morning."

E.J. VISO (No. 8 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology): "I am happy as we have been making progress with the car each session. This is definitely a very tough place to race. It is a very unstable and bumpy track. You need a good car here, but you need to drive the track very precisely. There is a lot of direction change on this circuit. I have been working very closely with Bill (Pappas, engineer) and we have been improving the car with every run. The track was very slippery in the early portion of that session with the other cars running ahead of us. But in the last half of the session, the track felt like it was getting better and gaining more grip. We are looking for a good run on Saturday."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing): "I think today went pretty good. I had a bunch to learn since it was my first time here and we made more good changes than bad so I think we're on the right road. The car was good here last year and it's good again this year but we have to tweak it for the tires which are a little bit different from last year. We're trying a few more things in the practice session before qualifying tomorrow. In the afternoon session today, I only got one clear lap and it wasn't my best lap. Traffic was definitely an issue this afternoon so I don't think our placing is a true indicator of where we are with the car."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven/Nestle Pure Life): "The day was OK for Team 7-Eleven. Me and Ryan worked really well together today. We had the same strategy today, but tried a couple different options to see what was going to work. Obviously, his is working pretty well, so that makes me feel good. We'll keep working tomorrow morning and see what happens."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com): "We made a few changes from the first practice session to the second and we were able to find some speed. I think the changes that we made gave us a much better idea on where we need to go for tomorrow. Overall I'm happy with today's practice sessions and hope we have a strong qualifying run tomorrow for the GoDaddy car. "

MARIO MORAES (No. 32 KV Racing Technology): "Overall it has been a good first day. I am pleased to be back here in Toronto, I really enjoy the track. We unfortunately didn't find the right balance, but we will work on some things overnight and hopefully have a better day tomorrow."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 Lotus - KV Racing Technology): ""It was a tough day. The circuit is extremely bumpy and slippery, especially on the concrete patches which made it very difficult to predict the setup of the car. Today was all about learning this unique track as quickly as possible. Tonight we will go over the data and hopefully improve the car for qualifying tomorrow."

SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):

8-8:50 a.m. Firestone Indy Lights practice
9:10-10:10 a.m. IZOD IndyCar Series practice
11:40 a.m. -12:30 p.m. Sunoco Pole Qualifying for Firestone Indy Lights
12:50-2:20 p.m. PEAK Performance Pole Qualifying and Firestone Fast 6 for IZOD IndyCar Series

-source: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Justin Wilson , Dario Franchitti , Sam Schmidt , Scott Brown , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Kim Green , Chip Ganassi , Tonis Kasemets , James Hinchcliffe , A.J. Foyt , Carmen Jorda
Teams Andretti Autosport , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , KV Racing Technology , Dragon Racing