Saturday, July 21, 2012

Castroneves leads First Day INDYCAR Practice at Edmonton Indy


The second race in the Canadian leg of the 2012 IZOD INDYCAR Series brings the 25-car opern wheel racing tour from Ontario's Toronto street course to the province of Alberta's Edmonton City Centre Airport. Headlining the 2012 Edmonton Indy, the IZOD INDYCAR Series circuit acclimated themselves to the 2.224-mile, 13-turn temporary road course for two practice sessions on Friday.

After two sessions, including a latter session that involved a fair share of interruptions for stopped vehicles, Helio Castroneves stormed to the fastest time on the Edmonton track 1-minute, 16.4920-second lap in his #3 Team Penske machine. "Well basically, the Penske Truck Rental team did a good job." said Castroneves adding "We came with a really good package, and between my teammates and I, we tried some random things in the first session to get where we were this afternoon. We like the direction that we are going and we are very encouraged for tomorrow."

Two years ago, Helio Castroneves made a name for himself at Edmonton when he was penalized for jumping a final restart. His animated behaviour at the end of the event resulted in additional disciplinary action and placed the IZOD INDYCAR Series on several sport highlight reels. After sweeping the first 4 races on the schedule, Team Penske has not won an event since the Sao Paulo event prior to the beginning of May.

Only a matter of 0.0027 seconds slower than Castroneves, Target Chip Ganassi Racing's #9 car driven by Scott Dixon was second-fastest. A two-time winner in the Edmonton INDYCAR event, Dixon will be facing a 10-grid position penalty as result to a blown engine at the last event in Toronto. Scott Dixon was ahead of other Honda runners Mike Conway and Simon Pagenaud on the combined track time sheet for Friday. Pagenaud's 4th fastest time in the #77 machine was the only case where a driver's top effort came from the 1st practice session.

As both Canadian drivers struggled in the pursuit of speed all weekend at the Honda Indy Toronto, both James Hinchcliffe and Alex Tagliani were much stronger on the Edmonton City Centre Airport track. Fastest of the Andretti Autosport bunch, James Hinchcliffe put the #27 GoDaddy-sponsored car fifth quick on Friday. "We're chipping away at it." said James Hinchcliffe eager to turn around his fortunes in Canada. Hinchcliffed included, "It's good to be in the top five heading into day two and hopefully we can keep that progress going. But, man... it's tough out there. It's very competitive and it's very tough to get a lap together because all these hairpins are so inviting, and it's so easy to overshoot it by a tiny bit or break too early and lose a ton of time. I'm happy with where we ended up with the Go Daddy car and we'll keep chipping away at it tomorrow." Just behind Hinchcliffe, the #98 Bryan Herta Autosport machine driven by Alex Tagliani was 6th fastest.

Friday at the Edmonton Indy was unforgiving for the winner of the last three IZOD INDYCAR Series events and current points leader Ryan Hunter-Reay. Penalized part way through the first practice for "unsportsmanlike conduct" by the series officials, the Andretti Autosport team was also required to change-out the #28 car's Chevrolet engine. Hunter-Reay will face a 10-grid position penalty after Saturday qualifying. Last race at the Honda Indy Toronto, Ryan Hunter-Reay's Andretti Autosport teammate James Hinchcliffe suffered similar engine setbacks. Friday did end with Hunter-Reay and the #28 team finding enough speed for the 9th fastest time prior to the engine problem.

Qualifying for the IZOD INDYCAR Series at the Edmonton Indy is set at 1pm tomorrow.

2012 IZOD INDYCAR Series
Edmonton Indy
Edmonton City Centre Airport
Combined Practice of Friday

1 3 Helio Castroneves Brazil Team Penske Chevrolet
2 9 Scott Dixon New Zealand Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
3 14 Mike Conway England AJ Foyt Enterprises Honda
4 77 Simon Pagenaud France Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports Honda
5 27 James Hinchcliffe Canada Andretti Autosport Chevrolet
6 98 Alex Tagliani Canada Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian Honda
7 10 Dario Franchitti Scotland Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
8 18 Justin Wilson England Dale Coyne Racing Honda
9 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay United States Andretti Autosport Chevrolet
10 12 Will Power Australia Team Penske Chevrolet
11 8 Rubens Barrichello Brazil KV Racing Technology Chevrolet
12 67 Josef Newgarden United States Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda
13 38 Graham Rahal United States Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
14 26 Marco Andretti United States Andretti Autosport Chevrolet
15 11 Tony Kanaan Brazil KV Racing Technology Chevrolet
16 2 Ryan Briscoe Australia Team Penske Chevrolet
17 5 EJ Viso Venezuela KV Racing Technology Chevrolet
18 15 Takuma Sato Japan Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
19 19 James Jakes England Dale Coyne Racing Honda
20 83 Charlie Kimball United States Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
21 7 Sebastien Bourdais France Dragon Racing Chevrolet
22 4 JR Hildebrand United States Panther Racing Chevrolet
23 22 Oriol Servia Spain Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet
24 78 Simona de Silvestro Switzerland Lotus-HVM Racing Lotus
25 20 Ed Carpenter United States Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

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