Edmonton City Centre Airport
Rains Wipes Out Opening Day Of Practice For Edmonton Indy
Vitor Meira got in three laps on the new City Centre Airport circuit, though it was in a golf cart.
That doesn't count in helping Meira and 25 other IZOD IndyCar Series competitors learn the 2.24-mile, 13-turn course. With persistent rain washing out two practice sessions -- northern Alberta being one of the few places in North America where it wasn't bone dry and feeling like being inside a convection oven -- it will be a crash course so to speak July 23.
It's frustrating for us, but it's doubly frustrating for the fans.
The schedule (all times local; add two hours for Eastern time):
• 8:55-9:25 a.m.: Firestone Indy Lights practice.
• 9:40-10:25 a.m.: IZOD IndyCar Series practice (first-round qualifying groups determined after session)
• 10:40-11:15 a.m.: Firestone Indy Lights Sunoco Pole qualifying.
• 11:25-12:10 a.m.: IZOD IndyCar Series practice.
• 1:45 p.m.: Firestone Indy Lights Race 1 (50 laps).
The three rounds of qualifying for the PEAK Performance Pole Award is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
"If this happened at any other street course or road course (other than Baltimore), we know the track and we know what we should do," said Meira, driver of the No. 14 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing who is coming off a top-five finish in the Honda Indy Toronto. "The one consolation is that it is the same for everybody.
"At the beginning (of track time), we have to forget a little bit about the details and worry about the big things and try to catch up fast. That is going to be our own race -- how fast we can we can learn the track and what the car needs."
Turn 1 -- a hard left-hander after a long straight -- will be among the most challenging to master even without the extra session.
"There are three very heavy braking zones from long straights," series' championship points leader Dario Franchitti said. "I think it will be racy and tough on brakes, actually. Turn 1 is wide and then it narrows up very quickly. I think part of the thing that's been talked about are the lines on either side of track are not out of bounds. You can go all kinds of places, but you have to remember it narrows up very much in the middle of Turn 1. Hopefully, we all control ourselves."
Spectators made the most of the day, converging on drivers for autograph and photographs, mingling with Holmatro Safety Team and Firestone personnel, and generally waiting for any on-track activity.
"You see the fans walking around, and we have somewhere dry to sit and hang out and the fans are walking around getting rained on," said Franchitti, driver of the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car. "It's frustrating for us, but it's doubly frustrating for the fans. I felt a lot worse for those guys than for us."
IZOD INDYCAR SERIES QUOTES :
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing):"It is frustrating because with a new track, you want to get track time and everybody is keyed up to go and everyone just has to stand around. For us, this is what we do. You see the fans walking around, and we have somewhere dry to sit and hang out and the fans are walking around getting rained on. It's frustrating for us, but it's doubly frustrating for the fans. I felt a lot worse for those guys than for us." (About how the circuit looks): "There are three very heavy braking zones from long straights. It think it will be a good track. I think it will be racy and tough on brakes, actually. It's got a couple of interesting corners, there. I think it will be good." (Turn 1 looks very inviting): "Well, it's wide and then it narrows up very quickly. I think part of the thing that's been talked about are the lines on either side of track are n't out of bounds. You can go all kinds of places, but you have to remember it narrows up very much in the middle of Turn 1. Hopefully we all control ourselves."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Penske Truck Rental): "It's too bad that we weren't able to run today. We were really looking forward to getting out on track and getting a feel for the new layout of the circuit. I feel bad for the fans that came out today too, They stood around all day in the wet and, unfortunately, didn't get to see us run. I am looking forward to tomorrow so I can get behind the wheel of the Penske Truck Rental car and turn some laps."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Penske Truck Rental): "It was great to see so many fans here today, it is amazing how these Edmonton fans show up rain or shine. Today ended up being kind of slow for us since we didn't get to run, I think the highlight of my day was signing a blow-up kangaroo for a little girl named Lauren. It was really unfortunate that we didn't get to run - after the track walk yesterday I was really looking forward to getting my Penske Truck Rental car out on the circuit. They have done an awesome job of making a circuit that should make for some great racing. Hopefully we can get out there tomorrow, have a chance to practice and then go qualifying."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "Well, today was a bit of disappointment for the fans; a lot of them showed up and they didn't get to see any on track activity, which is unfortunate. The weather looks good for the race on Sunday which is the main thing. I would have loved to got out on track today in the Verizon car, but we will just have to wait 'til tomorrow. This puts a lot more importance on practice Saturday morning and making sure we're efficient in what we do as soon as we can get out there on the new circuit."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing): "The biggest challenge is getting to know the track. That is the other factor here besides the rain and lack of time to run is that we just don't know the track. If this happened at any other street course or road course [other than Baltimore], we know the track and we know what we should do but here really we don't. The one consolation is that it is the same for everybody. Once the track is open, we have to focus on learning as fast as possible. At the beginning we have to forget a little bit about the details and worry about the big things and try to catch up fast. That is going to be our own race—how fast we can we can learn the track and what the car needs."
E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA-KV Racing Technology-Lotus): "It is unfortunate that we were not able to get some laps on the new track, but it is the same for everyone. We literally are all in the same boat. It looks like it's going to be an interesting circuit. I think the changes they have made look good, but until we run some laps we just won't know."
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS QUOTES:
PETER DEMPSEY (No. 26 Andretti Autosport): "The track layout here at Edmonton is really cool. It's been a dream of mine to race on an airport circuit since I came to North America. The new layout will make for a real exciting racing with the long, fast straightaway and slow hairpins. The fans will be entertained for sure."
STEFAN WILSON (No. 5 Andretti Autosport): "It's good to be back in Edmonton. It's a shame the weather didn't cooperate today. It makes for a tight schedule tomorrow. One practice session before qualifying and the race doesn't give us much time for changes and finding a good setup. Having been on the track with the pace car, the most fun part is the right/left quick corners. There will definitely be a lot of action, and fans should get their money's worth."
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues with the Edmonton Indy on July 24 at Edmonton City Centre Airport. 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 Edmonton Twin 100s at Edmonton City Centre Airport on July 23 and July 24. The July 23 race will be telecast live in High Definition at 4:30 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS.