By Amy Konrath
EDMONTON, Alberta (Friday, July 23, 2010) – The drivers who have earned the six PEAK Performance Pole Awards on street/road courses this season gave a preview of what’s to come in the first round of IZOD IndyCar Series qualifications July 24 for the Honda Indy Edmonton. Of the top 12 on the combined practice time sheet July 23, eight are in that first group.
“It will be the toughest qualifying session of the year,” said Will Power, the defending race winner who topped the field with a quick lap of 1 minute, 1.6689 seconds (115.176 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car over the two hours of practice on the 1.973-mile, 14-turn City Centre Airport circuit.
Teammates Ryan Briscoe was two-tenths of a second behind and Helio Castroneves was third with a best lap of 1:02.0152. The top 11 cars were separated by less than a second.
“It’s great to see the Verizon car on top in practice, but I’m not quite happy with it,” said Power, who is seeking his third consecutive victory. “The Penske team is very strong again here and with how competitive the field is now we have to work extra hard. We’re feeding off each other and see if we can be 1-2-3 again tomorrow.”
Also on July 23, Martin Plowman topped the time chart in Firestone Indy Lights practice for the Edmonton 100.
Plowman, driving the No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers/KEP Printing car for AFS Racing Andretti Autosport, jumped to the top of the chart with two minutes remaining in the hour-long session with a lap of 1 minute, 7.1508 seconds (105.774 mph).
James Hinchcliffe, who has started on the front row of all three street circuits this season, transferring the pole start at Long Beach into his first Firestone Indy Lights victory, was second quick (1:07.3366; 105.482 mph) in the No. 2 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling car.
Charlie Kimball (1:07.3765), series points leader J.K. Vernay (1:07.8383) and Adrian Campos Jr. (1:07.8491) filled out the top five.
DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:
The IZOD IndyCar Series will compete in the Honda Indy Edmonton, a 95-lap race at 4 p.m. (MT) Sunday (live on VERSUS). The Firestone Indy Lights series will compete in the Edmonton 100, a 50-lap race at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Live timing and scoring reports from the Honda Indy Edmonton and Edmonton 100 are available on the Internet at www.indycar.com. The live timing and scoring module provides statistical information, including track segment speeds, lap information and much more.
Feature stories, reports, driver quotes and notes, and photos will be posted on the site each day. More detailed information, including media advisories and VNF coordinates, is available at media.indycar.com.
IZOD IndyCar Series technical information for the Honda Indy Edmonton:
Honda overtake assist
Overtake assist was introduced to the series in August 2009 and will make its debut at Edmonton City Centre Airport in the Honda Indy Edmonton.
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 1.973-mile, 14-turn Edmonton City Centre Airport course:
18 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.
Firestone Racing has developed an all-new primary tire specification for Edmonton this year, while the alternate was previously used at Barber Motorsports Park. The primary is on the more durable end of Firestone Racing’s road/street course spectrum, while the alternate is in the mid-range of its tire lineup. The rain is the softer rain, and is the only rain tire we will be using for the 2010 season.
AL SPEYER (Executive Director of Firestone Racing): “This track is one of the bumpiest and fastest of the road and street course races, so we are bringing a durable primary tire to withstand the challenge. The alternate spec is a few steps softer than the primary, so it should create a noticeable difference in speed and durability.”
Edmonton 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.
Andretti Autosport driver Danica Patrick is among the three top female sports stars in the nation, according to an annual Harris Interactive poll. Tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams are Nos. 1 and 2.
Team Penske has won the pole in Edmonton each of the past two seasons (Ryan Briscoe in 2008 and Will Power in 2009) and it’s earned three podium finishes and one victory (last season with Power).
“It’s a very tough, fast circuit and the No. 3 Team Penske car has done well, finishing second the last two years,” Helio Castroneves said. “I love the fans in Edmonton. They appreciate our racing and they always seem to draw a big crowd.”
Penske Racing earned its 150th open-wheel racing victory as Power won on the Toronto street circuit. Sixteen drivers have combined to produce the record number of wins since 1968.
Tony Kanaan of Andretti Autosport and Justin Wilson of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing incorporate cycling into their workout regimens. On July 21, they rode in Colorado with triathlete Julie Dibens, who the 2009 champion in both Xterra and 70.3 triathlons. Kanaan will compete Oct. 30 in the Rohto Ironman 70.3 in Miami.
JULIE DIBENS (Professional triathlete): “It’s great to see how other professional athletes can be so passionate about the sport of triathlon.”
Xtrac, a global leader in motorsport transmissions, this weekend marks its 2 millionth mile run in IZOD IndyCar Series races, practices and tests as it prepares its specification for a lightweight transmission for the new chassis being introduced in 2012.
The UK- and U.S.-based gearbox manufacturer has been an exclusive supplier to the series for the past 10 years.
“Passing this momentous milestone marks a highly successful decade and longstanding relationship with one of the greatest race series in the world,” Xtrac president and managing director Peter Digby said. “We now look forward to submitting our proposals for a new lightweight transmission and would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Dallara for winning the contract to supply the new chassis. We have already indicated to the series’ promoters that we are willing to relocate to the new Speedway (Ind.) redevelopment area, which is very close to our existing facility in Indianapolis where we’ve been based since 2003.”
As a major international customer, the IZOD IndyCar Series typifies for Xtrac the global nature of its business and represents a significant contract that has been successfully renewed six times since 2000 and which extends to the end of 2011.
The targeted minimum weight of the IndyCar Safety Cell is 1,380 pounds – almost 200 pounds lighter than the current car.
“This will require a significant weight saving for the transmission without compromising reliability and our well-established low running costs,” Digby said. “This will be an interesting and exciting challenge for our technical capabilities, and we’ll draw heavily on our experience in other premier motorsport series.
“It’s serious business, but it’s also tremendous fun and deeply satisfying designing a gearbox able to handle the prodigious power of a 650 horsepower race car capable of reaching speeds in excess of 230 mph,” Digby said. “We also applaud the ICONIC’s mission to reach out and challenge the automotive and aerospace industries to join in and enhance the relevancy of the series with advanced and innovative technology. We are fully supportive of technology transfer between industry sectors as demonstrated by our recent success at transferring motorsport technology into the military sector.”
Kevin Martin toured the IZOD IndyCar Series garage area July 22 much like Danica Patrick did during the opening night of the Taste of Edmonton – incognito.
The Olympic gold medal-winning skip of Team Canada, however, was the center of attention (and it wasn’t because of the gold medal from the Vancouver Games he was toting) of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing assistant engineer Daniel Louks, who just happens to be president of the Circle City Curling Club. Indianapolis? Who knew?
“It’s always something I’ve been interested in and now it’s one of my passions,” said Louks, who attended the Games in February specifically to watch the curling competition. “We’ve been trying to get more people in Indianapolis involved. It’s a sport you can play at almost all ages and it’s a great way to get people active in the winter. It’s less an individual sport; it’s a full-on team sport. A lot of the things that interested me in racing apply to curling.”
Martin, an Edmonton resident, is grand marshal of the Honda Indy Edmonton.
“I don’t get star-struck very often, but it was pretty cool.”
Martin received tutorials about the speed and technology of the cars and multi-functional steering wheels from IZOD IndyCar Series drivers Justin Wilson and Will Power.
“To be asked by Northlands to serve as grand marshal for both the Capital EX Parade and the Honda Indy Edmonton is a huge privilege,” he said after leading the annual parade watched by more than 200,000 people lining the streets July 22. “I’m really looking forward to be able to tell the world’s best and fastest open-wheel race drivers to start their engines.”
De Ferran Dragon Racing’s Raphael Matos received some coaching from longtime friend and former open-wheel champion David Empringham during last week’s Honda Indy Toronto. They used to work together in the Atlantic Series. Matos swept the Atlantic doubleheader at Edmonton in 2007
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing): “He is the kind of guy who pushes me very hard and he sees the specific areas I am lacking. He made me focus on one problem at a time. You cannot fix all the problems in the car at once. You have to fix the main issue and go from there. That really helped me focus on what was working and better communicate what I was feeling with the engineers.”
Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti are two of nine current IZOD IndyCar Series drivers to make at least four starts on airport courses (CART previously held races at the Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland). Of the nine, Franchitti and Dixon are among only four to have recorded a victory: Franchitti in Cleveland, 2001; Dixon in Edmonton, 2008; Paul Tracy in Cleveland, 1993, 2005, 2007; Will Power in Edmonton, 2009.
Defending Honda Indy Edmonton winner Will Power has ties to Edmonton though he hails from Australia. Power’s paternal grandmother, Jean Ella (Buchan) Power, was born in Brandon, Manitoba, but grew up and worked in Lethbridge, Alberta. Power’s grandmother met Doug Power while he was stationed in Edmonton for flight training for the Edmonton Air Force. They were married in Montreal in 1944.
Ryan Hunter-Reay and Mario Andretti will be at the IZOD Haskell Invitational on Aug. 1 – along with vintage Indy cars – at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J.
Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, IRL medical director: Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver Pippa Mann, who suffered a broken bone in her left hand during the Toronto race weekend, has been cleared to drive in the Firestone Indy Lights Edmonton 100.
Canadian Web hosting company BlackSun (www.blacksun.ca) will be sponsoring Team Moore Racing in the Edmonton 100 during the Honda Edmonton Indy event July 23 to 25. TMR, which is co-owned by Calgary native Tom Wood, fields cars for Canadian James Hinchcliffe and Spaniard Adrian Campos Jr.
“BlackSun is excited to be on the TMR car again this year,” BlackSun chief executive officer Steve Rogoschewsky said. “The race weekend will also be a re-branding of our ‘FAST, Reliable, Web Hosting’ slogan, in conjunction with the ‘accelerate your business’ initiatives that have recently been announced at BlackSun.”
Walker Racing’s Dan Clarke is making his first Firestone Indy Lights start in Edmonton, but he has two prior starts Edmonton City Centre Airport. Clarke recorded a pair of top-10 finishes in Champ Car races in 2006 and 2007.
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:
MARTIN PLOWMAN (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers/KEP Printing, fastest of the day): “We rolled out of the truck pretty much where we needed to be. I was confident with the guys in the setup here. We’ve tested at circuits similar to this and the car was on rails. This circuit was very green to begin with, so I don’t think it’s representative of where we need to be in qualifying. We were constantly in the top two or three with the used tires. We tried a set (of sticker tires) at the end, but we didn’t get up to speed with the new tires. We still have time to get on the new tires. We still have some work to do but I think we can be challenging for the podium, if not the win.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 2 Xtreme Coil Drilling -TMR, second fastest): “It’s always great to come back here. I like the circuit, since the first time I came here. It’s fast flowing. I have to thank the (IZOD) IndyCar (Series) drivers for going out first this morning, it was really kind of them. The track had a good amount of grip for a Friday first practice. The cars are pretty close. We are still having some of the same issues we had at the beginning of the weekend in Toronto. We saw what happened to us in the race there, so we are going to try and fix those in a hurry. But this really isn’t a bad place to start the weekend.
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 26 Levemir FlexPen, third fastest): “I forgot how fun this place is to fun to drive. It’s a blast for sure. The No. 26 Levemir® car was quick right out of the box. We ended up P3, but we have a few more adjustments to make. I know exactly what we want to do. The team did a great job getting it ready right after Toronto last weekend. We’re going to have a lot of fun this weekend.”
The flames that briefly engulfed the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car on the City Centre Airport pit lane during last year’s race was “one of the scariest moments of my career,” Andretti Autosport driver Tony Kanaan recalls.
Quick action by pit crews and safety workers to douse the car and driver with water, along with Kanaan having the presence of mind to stop the car, was credited with minimizing damage and preventing potential serious burns.
“I said that I wanted to have a different kind of a shower this year,” Kanaan jokes. “I want to have a champagne shower.”
The fuel hose spewed ethanol on the car as it pulled away from the pit stall and a spark ignited the fuel.
“We always look back on incidents like that to find out what really happened,” Kanaan said. “I’ve been around a long time and between the crashes and some accidents that have happened, you always go ‘Wow, that was close.’
“Thank God our equipment is very safe, the driver’s suit and the helmet did its job and I just burnt a tiny bit of my hand and my face.”
Honda Performance Development has been testing a first gear lockout system, in which sensors on the fueling hose and car will disengage the gears until there is appropriate separation between the two. It is expected to be introduced yet this season.
Kanaan, with a victory at Iowa Speedway in June and coming off a fourth-place finish in the Honda Indy Toronto, enters the Honda Indy Edmonton in seventh place in the standings.
HPD parts and services division expands to Canada
Honda Performance Development is expanding its Honda Racing Line program to make HPD parts and services available to amateur and entry-level professional racers in Canada.
Launched in July 2009, the Honda Racing Line is a program targeted at licensed participants in sanctioned amateur and entry-level professional racing. Licensed Canadian competitors may register for the Honda Racing Line through HondaRacingLine.com.
Former Firestone Indy Lights driver and Indianapolis 500 competitor PJ Chesson became a father July 22. Cash Alan Chesson weighed in at 6 pounds, 10 ounces.
IZOD INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, fastest of the day): “The Verizon car is doing great, but we still have some work to do on the car to make it better. I don’t have the feeling in the car that I had earlier in the day. The track is coming up to grip and I’d like to get a better feel for the car because the field will get faster and tomorrow will be the toughest qualifying session of the year.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, second fastest): “I’m really happy with the Team Penske car right now. It’s a good start to the weekend. I love this track. It is just so exciting. You’re out there really pushing hard, jumping over curbs, it’s just a lot of fun. It’s good to be out there. The balance feels pretty close like we were use to last year.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, third fastest): “This is a good start for Team Penske, finishing the second practice 1-2-3. The No. 3 car group was struggling through some technical issues, but we figured out what the car needed and we are confident going into tomorrow’s practice and qualifying. It’s great to be back in Edmonton. I love this place.”
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fourth fastest): “The Target boys have done a good job and improved the car since last year when we were here. I need to do a slightly better job and hopefully we’ll be up there in the mix for the race on Sunday.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, sixth fastest): “We worked on mostly just general setup today in both sessions. It seems as thought we were chasing the track. At the end of the second session today traffic played a bit of a role so we’re looking forward to qualifying tomorrow.”
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 de Ferran Dragon Racing): “It was a complicated session today. We tried some things in the first session that didn’t work, but we were able to recover during the second session. We made some huge improvements. We’ve got a reasonable start and are heading in the right direction, but we need to work further overnight.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy): “The Venom car didn’t roll off quite as strong as we’d hoped it would. But we made good use of practice today, and we’re chipping away at it. We’ll use tomorrow’s morning session to re-evaluate what we’ve learned and should be in better shape for qualifying.”
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic): “The track is a little bumpier than last year but that is what we would expect. The track is getting more grip in each session but we aren’t gaining as much as we would like with each lap. We made a lot of changes, some good some bad, during the session. At one point I felt one change made the car better but at the same time I think the track got more grip so now I’m not sure if the lap time was because the setup improved or if it was the track. We’re going to make a big change overnight that we hope will give us more grip.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD): “Practice 2 was just a messy session (with all the traffic). We never put a lap together on new tires. The good news is we’ve got some more speed in the car, but it’s a question of how much. We have a lot of homework to do tonight. It’s going to be a pivotal discussion to see what we can do find the speed we need.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven): “This is a tough track for us, for sure. We’re a lot better this year than we have been, but we need to find a lot more. We have a lot of work to do. Ryan and I are trying to put our heads together and we’re going to figure something out. It’s not going to be easy. We’ll make a plan together; we’ll start on different paths in the morning and then meet somewhere before qualifying.”
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com): “The time sheets don’t show much, but we are making progress with the GoDaddy car. The track was really green this morning, but was better this afternoon. It was hard to get a solid feel on the car during the second session because of traffic, but we are headed in the right direction.”
EJ VISO (No. 8 PDVSA – Jet Aviation – KV Racing Technology): “We have a pretty complete car after the first day. The grid is so tight and this is one of those places that you have to push so much harder to pick up positions. You have to go over the limit sometimes. Putting all of the sectors of the track together is difficult too. This is a bumpy and unstable track, so it is very hard to run consistent laps here. It is even difficult to find the reference points under braking since you are going up and down in the cockpit. Your vision gets blurry. Overall, I think we have a good car going into qualifying. The track was slippery early but it should be good for qualifying on Saturday afternoon.”
TAKUMA SATO No. 5 LOTUS – KV Racing Technology): “It is indeed a pretty unique track. It’s my first time here on the Edmonton City Centre Airport track. It is so wide and extremely bumpy but we expected this. We made steady progress throughout the practice session and as my confidence grew, the car got better over the bumps. The end of the session was quite busy, but we were able to get in a good run which is important before qualifying tomorrow.”
MARIO MORAES (No. 32 KV Racing Technology): “Overall, the day was good. Unfortunately, at the end of the second practice session despite new tires, we weren’t really able to get in any runs because of the yellow flags. However I was able to get my fastest time on my last lap even though there was traffic. The car felt good, and I think we are capable of having a top-10 qualifying tomorrow.”
PAUL TRACY (No. 15 Make-A-Wish – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY): “We had an overall good day today with the Make A Wish – Honda Canada – Motegi Wheels car. Everyone kind of went to plan in the morning. We were in the top-six in the morning practice and we had a little issue with the car in the afternoon. We started on old tires and we went through some good changes. Plus they were a lot of yellows (flags) and we couldn’t get a good stint of laps together. At the end, I was able to squeak in one good lap in for a top-ten clocking. With a little more time in the afternoon, I believe we would have better and closer to the top-five. This is a tough track on a driver and car. But I’m pleased with the first day of running here at Edmonton. And the crowd looked big today. That is great for this event.”
Justin Wilson, No. 22 Z-Line Designs: “The Z-Line Designs car feels pretty good. We just need to keep working on it. We tried a couple of things during practice, which helped. We need to look through the data and try to understand if everything was improving and look at what we need to change. There is a lot of information to study before tomorrow and hopefully we can make some more improvements. We ended up 7th and that’s not exactly where we want to be. We are just one or two good changes away and we need to make sure that we find those changes.”
Tomas Scheckter, No. 24 MonaVie: “The MonaVie car is getting better. Today, we just kept working at it and kept improving. Again, this is a tough track, especially when I haven’t been doing a lot of the road courses. The team is doing a great job and we will look at it some more tonight. The times are extremely close, so if we can improve a little bit we will be good for tomorrow.”
9:15 – 10 a.m. – Firestone Indy Lights practice
10:15 – 11:15 a.m. – IZOD IndyCar Series practice
2:15 – 3:15 p.m. – Firestone Indy Lights Sunoco Pole Qualifying
3:30 p.m. – 4:50 p.m. – IZOD IndyCar Series PEAK Performance Pole Qualifying (Knockout qualifying and Firestone Fast Six)
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues July 25 with the Honda Indy Edmonton at Edmonton City Centre Airport. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 5 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 212. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Edmonton 100 on July 25 at Edmonton City Centre Airport.