Helio Castroneves has been the Edmonton Indy runner-up three of the past four years.
So almost nothing would give him more satisfaction than winning the race July 22 on the 2.224-mile, 13-turn City Centre Airport circuit in the No. 3 Penske Truck Rental car. He started strongly by topping the 25-driver field with a lap of 1 minute, 16.4920 seconds in the second practice session, which also was quickest for the day in preparation for qualifications and the 75-lap race.
It also was quicker than the 2011 pole-winning time recorded by Takuma Sato (1:18.5165; 101.971 mph) in the Firestone Fast Six.
"Basically, the Penske Truck Rental team did a good job," said Castroneves, who's third in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings. "We came with a really good package, and between my teammates (Will Power and Ryan Briscoe) and I, we tried some random things in the first session to get where we were this afternoon.
“The Penske Truck Rental team did a great job today putting together a great package," said Castroneves. “We like the direction that we are going and we are very encouraged for tomorrow. We know tomorrow and Sunday are the days that matter so we’ll continue working because we want to stay up front then. We are looking forward to tomorrow for sure."
Scott Dixon, a two-time Edmonton Indy winner who's driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, slid into second — only .0027 of a second back. Mike Conway, who recorded his first podium finish of the season two weeks ago at Toronto, was third (1:16.5122) in the No. 14 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing. He was in the top three in both sessions.
Also on July 20, Carlos Munoz was quickest through two Firestone Indy Lights sessions on the City Centre Airport circuit with a lap of 1 minute, 22.6122 seconds in the No. 26 Team Daily-Star car for Andretti Autosport.
An early-morning qualifying session precedes the 40-lap race at 5:30 p.m. (ET) July 21.
DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:
The IZOD IndyCar Series will compete in Edmonton Indy, a 75-lap race at 2 p.m. (ET) on Sunday. Firestone Indy Lights will compete in the Edmonton 100, a 40-lap race at 3:30 p.m., Saturday. The Star Mazda Championship, part of the Mazda Road to Indy Ladder, will compete twice this weekend. Race #1 is slated for 2:30 p.m. Saturday, while Race #2 will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.
The Honda Indy Edmonton will be the eighth Indy car race at Edmonton City Centre Airport and the fifth IZOD IndyCar Series event. The race was held on a 1.973-mile temporary circuit from 2005-2010 and moved to a new 2.224-mile temporary circuit in 2011. Will Power is the defending race winner. Takuma Sato won the pole in 2011.
The Champ Car World Series held three Indy car races in Edmonton from 2005-2007. A.J. Allmendinger won the pole for the first Indy car race at Edmonton in 2005. Sebastien Bourdais won the race.
Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon and Will Power have each won at Edmonton twice. Bourdais won in 2005 and 2007; Dixon won in 2008 and 2010; and Power won in 2009 and 2011. Dixon, Power, Bourdais and 2006 race winner Justin Wilson are all entered in this year's race.
There have been six different pole winners in the previous seven races. Will Power has won the pole position at Edmonton in three of the last five Indy car races. He won the pole for the 2007 race and has won the poles at Edmonton in 2009 and 2010. Other pole winners entered in this year's race are: Sebastien Bourdais (2006), Ryan Briscoe (2008) and Takuma Sato. One driver has won the race from the pole – Will Power in 2009.
One driver has competed in every Indy car race at Edmonton – Justin Wilson. Two drivers entered in the event – Rubens Barrichello and Josef Newgarden – will make their first attempt to start an IZOD IndyCar Series race at Edmonton. Ed Carpenter will race on the new circuit for the first time.
Belardi Auto Racing announced July 19 that TruFuel will serve as a sponsor of its No. 9 car in Firestone Indy Lights. The Shreveport, La.,-based company will debut its product's logo on the No. 9 Belardi/TruFuel car, driven by Irishman Peter Dempsey, in Edmonton, Canada.
"We could not be more thrilled to welcome TruFuel as a partner of our No. 9 car," said team owner Brian Belardi. "TruFuel comes from a truly top-notch company that produces great products and has an outstanding reputation. We hope that we can bring them some top-notch results in these final four races of the 2012 season with Peter, and we have all the confidence that we will be able to do so. Belardi Auto Racing is very proud to have TruFuel on board, and we can't wait to see the No. 9 in victory circle."
A pre-mixed fuel for 2-cycle engines, TruFuel is available nationally from many distributors and dealers like Wal-Mart and O'Reilly Auto Parts. The product is produced by TruSouth, a leading company in the blending and packaging of industrial and automotive lubricants.
"I am very excited to have TruFuel join Belardi Auto Racing and myself as a partner on the No. 9 car," Dempsey said. "It's really exciting to have them come aboard for Edmonton, as well as the remainder of the season. I cannot thank everyone at TruFuel, Brian [Belardi] and [team manager] John [Brunner] enough for giving me the opportunity to represent this product. I am confident that we can all make this a successful partnership and I hope to do them proud this weekend as well as the final three races this year. Hopefully we can start out by getting the No. 9 on the podium this weekend with the aim of reaching victory circle before the end of the season."
IZOD IndyCar Series officials have penalized #28 Hunter-Reay with a 10 grid spot penalty for an unapproved engine change following the Toronto event. IZOD IndyCar Series officials have penalized #9 Dixon and #78 De Silvestro with a 10 grid spot penalty for utilizing a sixth engine this season. Dixon is utilizing his sixth engine this weekend after an approved engine change following Toronto (In-race failure). De Silvestro's penalty is a carry-over from the Toronto event. (Fitting a sixth engine).
Ryan Hunter-Reay has won three consecutive IZOD IndyCar Series races to launch into the championship points lead entering the Edmonton Indy. He recently re-launched his website www.ryanracing.com with the help of Go Daddy's Dream Design Team, which worked closely with Hunter-Reay to design a site that fit the driver's needs and personality. The site features news, videos and all the details about Hunter-Reay.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: "Go Daddy has been a great team sponsor of Andretti Autosport. But that's not the only reason why I chose them. My website needed a complete overhaul, and I wanted something on the cutting edge of website design. It not only had to fit my style – which it does – but it had to have a design and layout that was flexible so we can continue to add features or elements. Go Daddy was able to design a layout that can adapt and adjust in the future, especially with new innovations in social media. It's something we can build upon for years to come. I couldn't be happier with the design and the user-friendly format."
IZOD INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet): "Well basically, the Penske Truck Rental team did a good job. 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. We know tomorrow and Sunday are the days that matter, so we want to stay up front then, so we'll continue working. The track improved a lot for this afternoon, that's where we were faster along with changes from this morning. We got into a good rhythm this afternoon and the car felt fast and good. Looking forward to tomorrow for sure."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "I'm happy with my car. We went out on new tires, got a red flag straight away, and we went back out, Bourdais was in front, and he blocked me when I was trying to get past him on the out lap. And then obviously, it's just trying to get a clear lap in, and we really didn't get one. But the car seems pretty decent. (Where on the track will people make mistakes on that you can capitalize on?)"The big braking zones. It seems to be that Turns 1 and 5 are definitely more obvious. I think that Turn 13 in the last corner, because it comes back on itself, if the guy even comes back he'll still have a decent run. But if you mess up in (Turn) 1 and going into (Turn) 5, you're definitely going to get passed. There's lots of great passing points on this track, and it's going to be a hell of a race."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "Top three in both sessions. I'm pretty happy with the car. It's been good from the start. We made only minor changes in the first session, but in Session 2, we explored a bit more and improved it. Good job by everyone on the ABC Supply Team today."
DARIO FRANCHITI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "It's the first time here with the new car, with the street-course tire, as well. Last year, we had the road-course tire so the track is a lot different. The tire is a lot faster here. The altitude here gives us more power. I'm not unhappy with the Target car. At the end of the session, we were on a good lap and we got a red flag so we were stuck in the traffic. I think we're not too bad, but tomorrow is going to be incredibly close."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoRapid FlexTouch Honda): ": "It was a good start to the Edmonton weekend. We found some things that didn't work and some things that did work, so we'll be in good shape going into tomorrow. We have some ideas so we'll come up with a game-plan overnight. The car is good enough and the engine is good enough, so I think we can be close to the top-10 tomorrow. The weather might throw a wrench into tomorrow, but we'll be ready to go."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "You don't like being at the bottom of the speed charts both sessions, but we made a lot of progress with the car. I hadn't run this track before so it took a little time to learn, but it isn't that difficult. I think I am still making adjustments on the track with where to push the car. We picked up nearly a second in the second session and closed the gap to the leaders by nearly a second and a half. We ran a quicker lap than the charts show, but we lost it due to a red flag on the track. I felt the car was much improved from the first practice. I think we are moving in the right direction with the Fuzzy's car. If we can improve the car as we did today (Friday), we could move up the grid. The team did a good job making the proper changes today. I'm optimistic about Saturday's runs now."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "Today showed that the racing here in Edmonton is going to very competitive. It's tough out there and I was pleased with what we were able to get done in the Verizon car. We will see what effects the weather has on tomorrow's qualifying but I expect things to be tight."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was a good day for the No. 2 Hitachi car, we tested a lot. We are probably lacking a little speed and I think we just need to get the balance right, we lost the balance in the second practice. But that's ok because we were learning. It looks like the 3 car was pretty solid so we'll be able to look at the changes they made and try to put it together tomorrow for qualifying."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 GEICO /Mouser Electronics- KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "I am happy with how today went. We improved the car a lot from the morning session. It's just a shame I got caught in traffic at the end as I think we have a faster time than is shown. We will continue to work on the car tonight and hopefully have a good qualifying tomorrow."
RUBENS BARRICHELLO (No. 8 BMC/Embrase – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "I have had my best Friday yet. The race track is pretty straight forward, a few bumps, but not nearly as bad as the street courses. I am pretty happy with our setup so I am hoping I will have a good weekend."
E.J. VISO (No. 5 CITGO-PDVSA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "We made a lot of changes during both practices today and made some important improvements. We also went past the minimum mileage for the engine, so we will change it and that should give us some more speed. There are a couple of other things that we found today that we need to address, which I am sure will be a benefit during tomorrow's qualifying."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): "It was a productive day as well as a little frustrating. The session was cut in half by red flags and making some changes but nevertheless we made some progress between the sessions. It's the first time for the team on this track since they didn't run here last year. I had a good feeling (in the car) here last year and the car is already coming to a very similar level which is nice. Looking at the overall view, everybody is very competitive so we are not showing as strong as we wish but we will put all of the data together and make good progress for tomorrow. (About new street course tire compound:) "Generally, I think the car generates more downforce, plus the tires are working good and we should have a little bit more power too so, as a package, the car is going faster than last year's lap times. The feeling I had last year in the car, with the pole time in terms of the complete view, we are already there. But it's only relative; we are not quick today. We need to improve."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): "The HP car is awesome. I mean it's really good. We just couldn't get a clear lap in the second session. We just were in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's OK. That's not what's important. What's important is that we're happy with the car. We tried a lot of different things today, so I feel very confident in tomorrow." (About the blood-soaked right sleeve of his uniform): "It (blood) is the result of a little bit of rubbing. It's a tough track here. There is a lot of kickback in the steering wheel. When that happens, my elbow rubs against the tub, which is carbon. It gets really warm, and with all the rubbing, it started to bleed. It's nothing really."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "The field was incredibly tight today. We spent time trying to find the small things that will hopefully give us a slight advantage when it comes to quals and the race. I think we're in good shape, though. Edmonton is a fun place to race and it was great to see all the fans out at the track. It will really interesting to see where everyone shakes out tomorrow."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet): "Today was an educational day, I guess. We didn't have the strongest first session as a team. We were just struggling a bit with finding some grip out there and, as is sort of typical Andretti Autosport form, in between sessions we sat down, worked pretty hard at it and came back certainly a lot stronger for the second session. We're still getting used to this track – it's only the second time that we've raced here in this configuration as a series and with the limited running we had last year because of the rain that we had and things like that, there's still quite a lot to learn… and obviously there's a new car here as well. We also have new tires – last year we came with a road course tire and this year we're here with a street course tire. There's a bunch of learning to do but we're getting there. We're chipping away at it. 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."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet): "We had a rough start to the day, but we really improved the car. We've come a long way to end up eighth, and we have a long way to go to be closer to the front for qualifying. We're just lacking overall grip, but we definitely have a lot of communication within the team, so we'll compare notes tonight. You know, if there's one little detail that's off, that could make a big difference, and having teammates allows you to maybe find something you wouldn't have on your own. It's been a trend for Andretti Autosport to improve the cars each day, so I expect to be better tomorrow."
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST PRACTICE QUOTES:
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Team Dialy-Ser): "For me it was quite easy to learn this track. From the beginning, I felt really fast and comfortable with the car and the track. The first session went great, and I was really fast; the second session we just tried some stuff for the future and for the next races. I did only one lap on the new Firestone tires and know everything was 100 percent. I'm pretty happy with the free practice today and the focus is qualifying tomorrow. I hope the weather doesn't change, but I think it's going to rain. Tonight we will work through all the changes we made today and see what worked the best."
PETER DEMPSEY (No. 9 Belardi/TruFuel): "The track is pretty much similar to last year. The biggest change for me is that I'm with a different team, Belardi Auto Racing and my sponsor this weekend is TruFuel. So that's the biggest changes for me, and also that we're second now instead of third from last year. Throughout this first practice and second practice, we ran on old tires and put new tires on and ran about four or five laps on them, so I think the tire wear here is going to be pretty good, for us anyway. The brake zones are always a little hard on the tires, but I think that we'll be able to keep our car pretty solid throughout the race, but again, the weather could be a problem for us tomorrow all this dry running may not help us."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 27 Team AFS): "I'm very comfortable with the way we started the weekend – very different strategy compared to my teammate (Carlos Munoz) as to multiple things. I feel comfortable that Carlos is (the fastest in practice today). We've always known we have a good car around this place and at the end we just need to focus on tomorrow. It seems it will be raining so it was very important to get a lot of testing out of today, so that's what we did. Overall very confident with the race car so now we just need a good qualifying session."
JORGE GONCALVEZ (No. 4 Belardi Auto Racing): "At the beginning, we struggled with the setup, but towards the end of the day, we made some significant changes. After our last change, I was only able to get one lap in, but it ended up being my fastest lap of the day. I'm feeling better about our weekend now because we know what we need to do for qualifying, and hopefully, we can get the pole position. I have to thank the whole team for their hard work and patience and hope to bring them a finish they deserve."
8-8:45 a.m. – Firestone Indy Lights Sunoco Pole Qualifying (All cars)
9 – 10 a.m. – IZOD IndyCar Series practice
11 – 11:30 a.m. – Star Mazda qualifying
11:45 a.m. – Noon – Firestone Indy Lights warm-up
1 – 2:15 p.m. – IZOD IndyCar Series pole qualifying (knockout qualifying/Firestone Fast Six)
2:30 – 3:10 p.m. – Star Mazda Race #1 (30-minutes).
3:30 p.m. – Firestone Indy Lights Edmonton 100 (40 laps), NBC Sports Network (Taped, 12:30 p.m. July 22)
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