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Tight turnaround as teams head to Edmonton
It’s a long way to Edmonton, Alberta, no matter how you measure it.

Indianapolis-based IndyCar Series teams’ transport drivers, many of whom left at 7 a.m. July 21, faced a 1,187-mile trip (about 32 hours). Of course, that was after loading up at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington 12 hours earlier.

For Team Penske, the two-leg trip from its Mooresville, N.C., headquarters to Mid-Ohio and then on to the Edmonton City Centre Airport venue is about 2,420 miles as the interstates wind.

“Going from Mid-Ohio to Edmonton, the biggest challenge is geographically,” team manager Tom Wurtz said. “It’s going to take us two days to get there. We will have to do turnaround work on the cars at the track on Wednesday. Normally, we don’t like to do that but given the situation there you have to. We end up using the (Mid-Ohio road course) car and basically rebuild that car with new bits and pieces.”

Team Penske was well-stocked for the 12-day trip -- parts, fluids, lubricants and “lots of paperwork,” Wurtz said.

“All the Canadian border stuff, we have to make sure we have everything in order for crossing the border and getting back,” he said. “A long time to clear customs would be 4-6 hours. A quick time would be driving through; they stamp your paperwork and go without any hassles. We don’t know yet if it is harder to get back into the country or not. We haven’t ventured out on the ground in a while.”

The team managed some of the turnaround on the Nos. 3 and 6 cars after a short Mid-Ohio celebration for the 1-2 finish of Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves. The inaugural Rexall Edmonton Indy begins with practice July 24, with the race scheduled for July 26.

“It’s a narrow week going from Sunday to Saturday; plus the 2,100 miles doesn’t help,” Wurtz said. “My main concern is giving these guys enough time because getting into Canada if we break down we need to have that time. It takes four hours to get a tire changed on these things.”

The Team Penske convoy includes two drivers for each of the two trucks and motorhome. Greg Shuker and Matt Giese will co-drive the No. 6 car transporter, getting behind the wheel for five- or six-hour shifts while the other adheres to federally mandated rest periods.

“You just have to get used to rocking back and forth but it’s not very noisy,” Shuker said of the full-size bed in the cab. “We drive until we get tired, usually every five to six hours and then we will stop, check out the trailer and make sure everything is in place.”

It costs about $1,300 to fill up each diesel rig (300 gallons) that gets 4-5 mpg, with about four fuel stops built in to the itinerary.

The Penske drivers look at this trip as another adventure, and although the return trip will be longer, they’ll be looking forward to it.

“That’s cruising straight home, man,” Shuker said. “We get a weekend off. Happy days are here again.”

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