By Amy Konrath
Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Power looks to put Toronto behind him
2. New circuit is a first for everyone
3. Morad joins Team Moore Racing for Edmonton
1. Power looks to put Toronto behind him: Will Power’s acute frustration has been downgraded from boiling to simmering. Still, the Team Penske driver isn’t about to forgive and forget the incident in the Honda Indy Toronto less than two weeks ago involving IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader Dario Franchitti.
“He had the choice to fall behind me, and (instead) he hit me,” Power said of the Turn 3 bump and run on Lap 56 of 85 that dropped him like a rock in the running order. “That’s just a simple fact. Result: I end up not finishing, and he ends up with the win.”
The longer term result: Power, who exited Toronto in 2010 with a 42-point advantage over Franchitti in the title chase, enters the Edmonton Indy this weekend 55 points arrears. Power, who also had choice words for Alex Tagliani after their cars made contact in the closing laps, was credited with 24th place after starting from the pole. It was his second consecutive DNF – another source of frustration.
“We just need to go out and have a good result in Edmonton and see what happens after that,” continued Power, who won on the former City Centre Airport circuit in 2009 and was the pole sitter three of the past four years.
There are eight races remaining (five on road/street circuits), so the window of opportunity isn’t closed. But Power acknowledges he can’t afford any more slip-ups or ill-timed incidents.
“I’ve been training like mad over the last week and want nothing more than to put Toronto behind me with a strong finish there,” he said. “I don’t get riled up that often, but trust me, I’m a man on a mission to get Team Penske and Verizon another victory and I’ll be doing my best to make sure that happens in Edmonton.”
2. New circuit is a first for everyone: There’s only one first time, which James Jakes considers a blessing.
In the Dale Coyne Racing driver’s maiden voyage through the diverse IZOD IndyCar Series schedule, every race weekend is a learning experience. Such was the case two weeks ago on the Toronto circuit – a concrete canyon that demanded technical skills leavened with a deft touch in traffic.
Jakes, in the No. 18 Acorn Stairlifts car, was the lone driver of the 26 not to have competed previously on the temporary street course in either the IZOD IndyCar Series or Firestone Indy Lights.
“It’s a bit of a disadvantage being the only driver that hasn’t raced there,” said Jakes, among the six in the running for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award.
A measure of equality, however, is available in this weekend’s Edmonton Indy with a new 2.256-mile, 13-turn circuit that design consultant Tony Cotman calls “exciting for everyone” being employed.
Without video of previous races or reference data, preparation for the three rounds of PEAK Performance Pole Award qualifying and the 90-lap race will be on the fly on the City Centre Airport course for the 26 participants.
“Back in Europe, a lot of people use simulators – not so much like iRacing.com but one with a platform and four-post rig – but over here it’s quite different,” Jakes says. “I suspect a few of the teams will have made a racing sim for it maybe, but you just have to turn up and see how it is. Like when everybody went to Brazil this year, nobody knew how bumpy it was going to be, and it turned out smoother than Toronto.
“The track walk (July 21) is important, too. You have to make mental notes and talk with your engineer. Another key is not crashing early on in the first session (1:15 p.m. ET July 22) because you can lose so much track time. The track is only going to get quicker and rubber in and your setup will change quite a bit from where you were at the beginning of the weekend to where you finish in qualifying.
“Track time, making sure feedback is correct and maximizing every minute you have from start to finish of the session are important.”
The circuit features two long straights with tight left-hand turns at the end (Turns 13 and 1). Some areas of the runways have been patched with asphalt, but drivers still expect a teeth-rattling experience.
“In the first session you have to try things and make sure you find your way quickly there,” said A.J. Foyt Racing’s Vitor Meira, who recorded his first top five of the season at Toronto in the No. 14 ABC Supply car. “The quicker you find your way, the more you can focus on the car. You have to figure out braking points, gears, turn-ins, which curbs to use and which ones to avoid, how much speed to carry into this corner, and what is the best way to carry speed in –braking later or earlier? Finding your way around the course will be key to this weekend.”
Added Oriol Servia, driver of the No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing car who had three top-five finishes in four races on the 1.96-mile course: “It will be a new game for everybody but understanding what made a car work on the old track will definitely help to be competitive on the new one.”
3. Morad joins Team Moore Racing for Edmonton: Canadian Daniel Morad will join Team Moore Racing for the Edmonton Twin 100s at Edmonton City Centre Airport.
The 21-year-old native of Ontario will drive the No. 22 TMR/Xtreme Coil Drill car in his debut races in the Firestone Indy Lights in place of Victor Garcia, who has returned to Spain and will not compete again this season with TMR due to an unfortunate set of circumstances.
“The decision for Victor not to continue with TMR was extremely painful for all us,” said team co-owner Mark Moore. “It’s hard to believe our race winner from Barber and championship contender cannot continue. We are all very fond of Victor and he has been huge part of our program. The economy in Spain has made it impossible and we are all very sorry that this has happened now. ”
Morad, is a GP3 Series race winner who has been competing in the same series this season, was World Champion in the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Final in 2010. He raced for A1GP Team Lebanon in 2008/09 and won the Formula BMW USA championship in 2007.
“We are very fortunate to have someone of Daniel’s caliber available to fill the seat and we will move forward,” Moore said. “We had a lot of success last year with another Canadian James Hinchcliffe who won the Edmonton race for TMR. The fact that Daniel is Canadian, it is a Canadian race, and Xtreme Coil Drilling Corp. is Canadian-based, it is a perfect fit for the team.”
Morad is one of four newcomers who will debut at Edmonton this weekend, joining Canadians Tyler Dueck and Stefan Rzadzinski and Britain’s Oliver Webb. Morad said he is looking forward to competing with Team Moore Racing at Edmonton and getting back behind the wheel.
“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to make my Indy Lights debut in Canada in front of my fellow Canadians,” Morad said. “I’d like to thank TMR and Xtreme Coil for providing me with this opportunity in such short notice. I’d also like to thank Andy DeFrancesco, founder of Delavaco Capital Corp., as well as Sofina Foods Driver Development Program for their continuous support throughout my career.”
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.