Edmonton: Series Thursday report

POWER, SERVIA TOP PRACTICE AT EDMONTON EDMONTON, Alberta, Thursday, July 24, 2008 - KV Racing Technology teammates Will Power and Oriol Servia swept the top two spots in the first day of practice for the Rexall Edmonton Indy. Although it's...

POWER, SERVIA TOP PRACTICE AT EDMONTON

EDMONTON, Alberta, Thursday, July 24, 2008 - KV Racing Technology teammates Will Power and Oriol Servia swept the top two spots in the first day of practice for the Rexall Edmonton Indy.

Although it's the IndyCar Series first visit to the 14-turn, 1.96-mile street circuit, eight drivers, including Power and Servia, competed at the facility previously.

Power, the 2007 pole sitter, turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 2.3404 seconds, 113.936 mph with Servia less than five-hundredths of a second off the pace (1 minute, 2.3900 seconds, 113.485 mph).

Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe were third and fourth, respectively. The two have combined to win the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award at the last two races on road/street courses.

Justin Wilson, the Champ Car race winner at Edmonton in 2006, was fifth, followed by series points leader Scott Dixon, Andretti Green Racing driver Tony Kanaan and Canada native Paul Tracy. Graham Rahal and Bruno Junqueira rounded out the top 10.

A final practice session is scheduled for Friday morning, followed by the battle for the $10,000 PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award in the afternoon.

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This is the inaugural Rexall Edmonton Indy, although eight drivers entered competed in at least one of the three Champ Car events at Edmonton City Centre Airport. Mario Dominguez, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Bruno Junqueira, Will Power, Graham Rahal, Oriol Servia, Paul Tracy and Justin Wilson combined to make 18 starts at Edmonton.

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The IndyCar Series brings its unique road/street course qualifying format to Edmonton this weekend. After two practice session featuring all cars today, the field is randomly divided into two groups for tomorrow's practice and Segment One of qualifying. The random draw occurred this morning prior to the driver's meeting when the drivers drew either a red chip or a blue chip out of a bag. Drivers with a red chip will be in Group One. Drivers with a blue chip will be in Group Two.

In Segment One of qualifying, each group receives 20 minutes of track time. The fastest six cars from each group advance to Segment Two, while the remaining cars are assigned positions 13-26. Group One drivers will occupy the odd-numbered positions (13, 15, 17...) while Group Two drivers will occupy the even-numbered positions (14, 16, 18...) based on their fastest lap times.

During Segment Two, the 12 advancing cars receive 15 minutes of track time. The fastest six advance to the Firestone Fast Six Shootout while the remaining six cars are ranked in positions 7-12 based on their fastest laps.

During the Firestone Fast Six, the six cars receive 10 minutes of track time, with a guarantee of five minutes of green flag time. Each car receives one additional set of Firestone Firehawk tires for use during this final segment. At the end of the session, the cars are ranked 1-6 based on their fastest laps.

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Paul Tracy is competing in his first IndyCar Series event of the season. According to Dr. Mike Olinger, medical director for the Indy Racing League, Tracy passed his physical this morning. Tracy was allowed to turn a few laps this morning prior to practice for a systems check.

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Each IndyCar Series car receives 10 sets of Firestone Firehawks dry-condition slicks and four sets of rain tires for the three-day weekend. Teams that are competing at Edmonton for the first time will receive one extra set of tires for today's first practice. Teams that participate in the Firestone Fast Six session will receive one extra set of tires for that session. The dry slicks are a new specification featuring the same compound and construction as was used at Watkins Glen, but with increased tread thickness (guage). The rain tires selected are the hardest street/road course tires in Firestone's inventory.

AL SPEYER (Executive Director, Firestone Racing): "Firestone Racing is looking forward to seeing a unified IndyCar Series on the wide-open circuit at Edmonton City Centre Airport. From a fan's perspective, this is a great race to watch - high speeds, high visibility, a wide track that offers ample passing opportunities - Edmonton has it all. Our engineers have three seasons' worth of experience at this track, so they have prepared a tire that is specifically designed to meet the unique demands Edmonton presents."

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Andretti Green Racing, Blockbuster Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd. are collaborating for the second time this season on a special livery for the No. 26 entry driven by Marco Andretti. For the IndyCar Series race weekend at Infineon Raceway on Aug. 22-24, the theme will be "Star Wars: The Clone Wars."

The No. 26 Blockbuster/Star Wars: The Clone Wars car was unveiled July 23 as part of preview activities at the 2008 Comic-Con International show in San Diego. Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the first animated feature from Lucasfilm Animation, will be released in theaters Aug. 15 in the United States and Canada. The latest installment of the epic Star Wars Saga also introduces a weekly animated TV series of the same name that will premiere this fall on Cartoon Network.

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Blockbuster): "I can't wait to roll out the Clone Wars car at Infineon," Andretti said. "I had a lot of fun with the Indiana Jones car at the Indy 500 and I'm hoping that my upcoming battle at Infineon will be as exciting as anything in a Star Wars movie so I can win it for both Blockbuster and Lucasfilm."

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Firestone Indy Lights officials have penalized Guthrie Racing's Logan Gomez five driver points for reckless driving during the Mid-Ohio 100 Race 2. Gomez was penalized for violating Rules 1.2 (A, B) of the Firestone Indy Lights rulebook.

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Andretti Green Racing driver Danica Patrick met with the media at Edmonton this morning. Select quotes are below:

DANICA PATRICK: (About the six race stretch, which ends in Edmonton) "First and foremost, this six-race stretch has been the most difficult for the teams, the crews and the family members of the crews. These guys work long, long hours at the track and go to work when they get home, so I think they will all appreciate finally getting a week off. We're all looking forward to that. There's nothing better going into a week off than having a good result, that's for sure because it's the last thing you remember."

(About being nominated for the Teen Choice Awards) "I'm very honored and flattered to be up for such prestigious awards like Best Female Athlete. I was fortunate enough to win best female athlete at the Kid's Choice Awards earlier this year and was up for best female athlete again at the ESPYs and now the Teen Choice. I'm looking forward to going out there. One of the very big fan bases that I have is children and kids, so it's always nice to be able to see them. Nothing puts a smile on your face quite like kids, especially when you can make them smile. I'm looking forward to going out there next Sunday. Other than that, it's the business of racing."

(About the physical nature of road courses like Edmonton) "I think road courses in general are very physical. Absolutely. What I've learned is the better your car is, the easier it is for you out there. We're going to be working really hard to make the car comfortable and good in the high speed corners as that can be the most difficult physically, for sure. It's no obstacle that I've not faced in my whole career, especially in Indy cars. I'm ready for it. Like I said, if we can get a good car underneath us, it makes the job a lot easier."

(First impressions of the track): "There's quite a bit of dust and dirt to clean up, but I think we've had some folks out there this morning working on that, some other cars. But other than that, I was surprised by how many depressions, off-camber corners and banked corners there were. Obviously not in an extreme situation but if any because it is at an airport. Normally everything at an airport is very, very flat. I'm excited. It looks like it's going to be, just watching the cars out there this morning, it looks like there is so much runoff that you end up using it all to go out. But then you have to set up for the next corner, so you're constantly hustling the car back and forth acro ss the track, it looks like, to set up for the next one. It'! s obviou sly going to lend to even more a good car this weekend."

(About confronting other drivers) "As a driver, I am not afraid to have conversations with other drivers, which sometimes, I think in my life, I'm definitely under a close eye and there are always cameras and TVs and things around so I just have to watch what I'm doing and where I'm doing it at. That's probably the lesson that I have learned over the past few years; people are always watching. What can I say? It's a double-edged sword. People are always watching, but people are always watching. You do good things and that's fantastic, and then you do other things that are good or bad or just indifferent or can be something that people can draw their own opinions about, and those are the fine lines that you walk. I just have to be aware of that."

(About being ranked seventh on Forbes top earning female athletes) "I know as a team, my family and myself, everyone that works closely with us has worke d very hard to make sure that we do a good job with public image, with endorsements, with marketing and advertising for companies. That's important to us, so we've made sure that we've done a good job trying to maintain as well as get to a new level. I think it works. I'm flattered to be in the top-10."

***

Following the first practice session, several IndyCar Series drivers offered their opinion on their first time on the track at Edmonton.

DARREN MANNING (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./AJ Foyt Racing): "It's interesting. There's no rest, that's for sure. We could probably do with another 400-meter long straightaway to make it really interesting. Maybe we should go out to one of the longer runways. You're working hard the whole way around the circuit. There are long, complex corners from Turn 1 all the way through to Turn 7. It's fun, and hopefully it will get a bit more fun this weekend."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske): "It's completely different from anything I've ever experienced. It's been a lot of fun. The track is still really dusty, so I think we've seen a few guys go a little bit too wide and find themselves sliding into the wall. The Team Penske car seems to be running very well right now. We're just trying to find the gear ratios and do a bit of setup work. We're definitely off to a good start here. It's a pretty rough track, but it's still very low grip. I think as it gets more rubber, it will get more physical. But for now, the steering effort is pretty light, and we're sort of slipping and sliding around a little bit."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): "This place is awesome. It's very tricky and technical, especially because it's on a runway. We're still learning the lines, so it's a little bit difficult. The crowd today has been unbelievable. It's nice to have so many fans here to welcome us."

***

When Curtis and Julie Sinclair were planning their wedding, they realized that the sound of wedding bells for their ceremony at Chateau Louis just down the street from the Rexall Edmonton Indy would be interrupted by the sound of race cars.

The couple went through with the ceremony at 12:45 p.m. today and incorporated the racetrack as a stop for their post-wedding pictures.

The couple, along with three bridesmaids and groomsmen, posed for pictures in the grandstand and on the steps of the Indy Racing League's administration trailer with the Honda Accord Safety Car in the foreground.

After a stop at the track, the couple was off for more pictures on the grounds of the legislature before returning to the Chateau Louis for the reception.

CURTIS SINCLAIR (Groom): "We got married today. The Indy (race) offered us a chance to come over here, because we were contending with the noise. I thought it would be awesome. I pay attention to (Marco) Andretti and some of the racing. I've been to the races before, and they're awesome. Last year, I wasn't able to make it, but you can't pass up free tickets on your wedding day."

***

INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

WILL POWER (No. 8 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia, fastest): "It was obviously a day to get used to the setup of (an IndyCar Series car). It's much different than a Champ Car. The team's done a great job and we arrived here with a reasonable setup. We definitely improved it after the first session. I think we're in a much better position than we were last week at this time. It would be nice if we could repeat this in qualifying with another 1-2. We're looking for a solid result to get some solid points, since we can't perform this well on the ovals."

(About track conditions): "It was dusty this morning, but as the weekend goes on, the track does grip up. It's dusty off-line, but for qualifying, I think it will be rubbered up."

(Is it slicker than last year): "It's a combination of guys learning the circuit and having a harder compound tire, which makes it a little more slippery."

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technology, second): "We're really happy. At Mid-Ohio, we expected to be competitive, and after the first day we were 19th and 20th. The team did a great job for Saturday and we picked up the pace, and on Sunday we were up there with the best. Coming here to a place that we know, it feels good to be top of the timesheets, but we need to keep pushing. The other guys are only on their first day here, and they're big teams with very good drivers. I'm pretty sure they're going to be pushing pretty hard tomorrow."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, third): "I think the track here in Edmonton is great, and it's proven to be very challenging as well. We used the practice sessions to familiarize ourselves with the course and just find the lines out there. Our main goal today was to find out what the Team Penske car can do on this circuit. Now that we know, we'll use tomorrow to see how much we can push that limit. Overall, I think we had a good day, and I'm looking forward to getting back out there. I think it's great to be racing here in Canada; it's only the first day of the weekend and the place was packed. The fans seem to be having a great time, and that is a lot of fun to see."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, fourth): "Things are looking good for the No. 6 car here in Edmonton. It's my first time here as well as Team Penske's, so we really used today to concentrate on dialing in the car, getting the gear ratios right and general setup work. The track started out a bit dirty in the first session, but it's steadily improving. It's an exciting circuit to say the least - it's bumpy with a lot of fast corners. It's pretty technical, and there's not a lot of room for error, which is why we saw so many guys get in the tire barriers today. I think we had a good start here, and hopefully we can keep it going tomorrow."

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team, fifth): "I think the McDonald's team is reasonably OK in terms of setup. It's difficult to know when other people ran old tires vs. new ones. We know when we have and haven't, and we feel like we are reasonably competitive, but I would like to feel a bit more confidence from the car. It's not where I think we can be. We have a little work to do, but we're on old tires running fifth, so I'm reasonably happy with it. This car bounces around a lot more than the Champ Car did, and there doesn't seem to be as much grip on the track, so it's very difficult to drive. I think everyone is seeing that based on how many cars are spinning off. It's making life tough, but we're going to have to try to make the most of it. I think the race is going to be interesting."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, sixth): "We had a lot of problems in the first session with front grip in the car, and we thought we had an idea how to get that fixed for session number two. The overall balance of the car is still off though, and we're going back to discuss how to get the car where it needs to be. We were better off in the second session, but there is still work that needs to be done."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, seventh): "It was not a very good day today. We're still trying to improve the balance of the Team 7-Eleven/Frank's Energy Drink car. We were able to find some speed, but we have to improve the balance of the car."

PAUL TRACY (No. 22 Subway/Vision, eighth): "It went as well as you could hope for. We hoped to come in and have the car run all day, and we did that. The crew did a great job. They had a very small amount of time to get the car ready, only a couple of weeks. Derrick (Walker) and his group did a great job. Tony (George) giving us this car to use, but going from an oval setup to a road course setup, so it was missing a lot of the bits. We're pleasantly satisfied with how it went. I haven't driven since Long Beach, and I haven't driven much at all - I've had one test day - since Surfers (Paradise) last year. Hopefully, things will come back a little easier tomorrow and we can work on the race setup. It's going to be a tough one. It's a tough race, and these guys have been driving all year."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Rexall-Oilers, ninth): "The start of the day was all right, but I think we were a little too far off in terms of setup. We were close enough though that we decided to make this afternoon's session a little bit of a test session. We went out on a limb and tried some things, and now we are a heck of a lot closer than we were at the start of the day. We're pretty happy with that, but of course we still need to find a little more speed. We're competitive at least. We're right there with the top guys. We still need to work on some stability issues, but we have tonight to think about it. Then we'll try to shoot for pole tomorrow or at least try to make it through all the rounds, because I can't seem to make it through to the second round this year even if we are quick. This is such a different car than we are used to here. We showed up, and the car was bottoming like crazy. It was like getting punched in the face 10 times a lap, and it hurts. We made some improvement. To be fast here, quite frankly you have to be aggressive. The bumps are obviously the most important part of this because it is such a bumpy circuit. We made a lot of improvements, but there is still a ways to go."

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FRIDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
10:30-11:30 a.m. IndyCar Series practice (two groups)
3:15 p.m. PEAK Motor Oil Pole Qualifying presented by AutoZone

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The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the Rexall Edmonton Indy July 26 at Edmonton City Centre Airport. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 5 p.m. (EDT) by ESPN. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Kentucky 100 on Aug. 9. The race will air at 2 p.m. Aug. 14 on ESPN2.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Helio Castroneves , Bruno Junqueira , Paul Tracy , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Oriol Servia , Graham Rahal , Mario Dominguez , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Will Power , Logan Gomez , Danica Patrick
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , KV Racing Technology