Edmonton IndyCar Saturday Notebook
The IZOD IndyCar Series will compete in the Edmonton Indy, a 90-lap race at 2 p.m. (EDT) (Noon, local) Sunday. Firestone Indy Lights will compete in two 40-lap races this weekend. Race #1 is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. (EDT) (3:45 local) today. Race #2 is slated for 2:15 p.m. (ET) (12:15 local) Sunday.
This is the fourth IZOD IndyCar Series event at Edmonton City Centre Airport. Scott Dixon is the defending race winner at the track. Will Power won the PEAK Performance Pole Award here in 2009 and 2010. Scott Dixon won the inaugural race in 2008 en route to the IZOD IndyCar Series title, while Will Power claimed his first IZOD IndyCar Series win at the track in 2009. The Champ Car World Series held three Indy car races in Edmonton from 2005-2007. Sebastien Bourdais won in 2005 and 2007, while Justin Wilson won the race in 2006. Dixon, Power, Bourdais and Wilson are all entered in this year's race.
Drivers will have 20 total pushes of the Honda overtake assist - an ECU software alteration employed by Honda Performance Development - each lasting 18 seconds during the Edmonton Indy. 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. There is an 10-second recovery period between pushes. One overtake assist push is available for the final practice session.
Each entry for the Edmonton Indy receives six sets (24 total) of Firestone Firehawk primary tires (blacks) and three sets (12 total) of Firestone Firehawk alternate tires (reds) for the race weekend. The tread compounds for both the Edmonton primary and alternate tires are new this year, but the body construction of both remains the same as in 2010. The primary spec will also be used at Infineon Raceway. The alternate spec will be used again on the Motegi, Japan, road course in September. The new Firestone rain tire specification that was first available two weeks ago at Toronto will be supplied again this weekend should conditions necessitate its use.
IZOD IndyCar Series rookie James Hinchcliffe said "it's sort of a surreal experience" to be on the starting grid with multiple Indy car champions Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy.
"I was a big fan of theirs when I was younger and I'm a big fan of theirs today," said Hinchcliffe, 24, who didn't intentionally seek to draw an age comparison.
He'll again join Franchitti and Tracy on pit lane as "Oh, Canada" is sung before the Edmonton Indy at City Centre Airport. With four victories in 10 races this season, Franchitti has surpassed Johnny Rutherford and Rick Mears on the all-time victory list with 30. Seventh on that Indy car list are Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais with 31 wins.
"I've held the marker of winningest active driver for a while and to be in the company I'm in -- guys like Al (Unser) Jr. and Rick Mears and Dario - is an honor," said Tracy, who will climb into the No. 8 Make A Wish Dragon Racing car for the 90-lap race on the 2.24-mile, 13-turn circuit. "I've had the pleasure of being a teammate of Dario's for many years (at Team Green), competing against him for over 10 years and he's really come into his own as one of the greatest champions there is in the sport.
"He's probably a little bit of a late-bloomer; his wins have really started in the last five years and he's really taken off. If he was to surpass me, which is probably going to happen, it's no problem with me. It's just great to compete against him."
Sixteen of Franchitti's wins have come in his past four seasons. For the record, the all-time leader is A.J. Foyt, with 67 wins. Mario Andretti (52), Michael Andretti (42), Al Unser (39), Bobby Unser (35) and Al Unser Jr. (34) remain ahead of Bourdais, Tracy and Franchitti.
After tying Mears, the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner, Franchitti mentioned he'd like to attain his 31st in a race in which Tracy was competing.
"I did say there's a possibility that I'll never win another race and this guy will win a bunch more," he added.
Responding to the suggestion that he still has plenty of game left, the 42-year-old Tracy said: "Speaking of which, do you want to trade rides? It should be possible (for more victories) if we switch rides."
That's where his longtime friend has to draw the line.
"I'll keep mine if you don't mind."
Nine-year-old Noah Johnsen, who was born with muscular spinal atrophy (SMA), will serve as Grand Marshall for the Firestone Indy Lights races at Edmonton. The boy has been a die-hard Indy fan since his uncle took him to his first race four years ago.
Johnsen also had the opportunity to meet his favorite driver - Ryan Hunter-Ray.
"He's cool and he's a great driver," Johnsen said.
There were four Canadian drivers in the Edmonton Twin 100 Race #1, but only Edmonton native Stefan Rzadzinski was around for the finish.
Rzadzinski finished 10th in the race, which was shortened to 36 laps by the 60-minute time limit. Countrymen David Ostella, Daniel Morad and Tyler Dueck were not as fortunate. The trio was eliminated in the Turn 5 accident on Lap 1. They'll start Sunday's second race in 14th, 15th and 16th spots, respectively.