7.20.2012 - Day one of the Edmonton Indy is in the books, with two days of qualifying and race action still ahead.
IZOD IndyCar Series
Leading the way for Andretti Autosport was Canada's own James Hinchcliffe, who finished today's afternoon practice in the fourth position after leading the timing charts earlier in the session. He was 18th in the morning session in the No. 27 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet.
"Today was an educational day, I guess," said Hinchcliffe. "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 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 brake 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."
Coming into the weekend on a three-race win streak with the No. 28 DHL/ Sun Drop team, Ryan Hunter-Reay was eighth quickest in the day's second practice session. Hunter-Reay is leading the IndyCar point standings, with a 34-point cushion over Will Power.
"We had a rough start to the day, but we really improved the car," Hunter-Reay said. "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."??????
Marco Andretti was the quickest of the three Andretti cars in this morning's first practice session and was 14th quickest in the day's second session in the No. 26 Dr Pepper Chevy.
"There are long straights and tight turns here at Edmonton, so you need a car that's good getting into the corner – good on the brakes – and a car that's good getting off of each corner," said Andretti. "You have to have both. I think we're getting there. We locked up the tires on what would have easily been our fastest lap, so I know there's more speed in the car."
The IZOD IndyCar Series will practice and qualify Saturday, in preparation for Sunday's Edmonton Indy. Prior to the start of the race, don't miss the debut of Hinchcliffe's episode of "IndyCar 36." The behind-the-scenes look at Hinch in his hometown Toronto race airs at noon Eastern Time Sunday on the NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus).
Firestone Indy Lights
Racing at Edmonton for the first time, Carlos Munoz posted the fastest time in both the morning and afternoon practice sessions today in the Dialy-Ser No. 26 machine.
"For me it was quite easy to learn this track," said Munoz. "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."
His teammate, Sebstian Saavedra finished today's morning practice session in the second position. He was fourth in the afternoon session in the AFS Racing No. 27 entry.
"I'm very comfortable with the way we started the weekend – very different strategy compared to my teammate (Carlos Munoz) as to multiple things," said Saavedra. "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."
Sage Karam was second quickest in both practice sessions today for the Star Mazda series. The series will have a race Saturday afternoon and a second race Sunday.
"Like any other new track that the series goes to, the Andretti team has been very good about learning the tracks very fast, and getting us up to the pace really quick," Karam said about his No. 88 Comfort Revolution team. "I knew coming in here we were gonna be on pace, and we ended up being P1 (first) right off the bat, and ended up dropping to P2 (second) at the end of the session. We just have a tiny bit of speed to find, and I'm confident we will and it should be a great race… We found something that was broken on my car (in the second session), so we really think that was huge. Once we get that fixed we're going to be right back on pace. The team has been providing us with great race cars, and I think we're going to be good in the race."
Also quick today was Zach Veach, who was sixth quickest in today's second session in the K12 No. 77 entry. This is his first time racing at Edmonton.
"We were second-quickest for most of the second session, and it gives you the confidence that you have the speed and the ability to be up-front, so we'll go back to the hotel room and we'll go through the video and the data to figure out the little things we need to go faster," said Veach. "From sixth-place all the way to third is only a tenth-of-a-second, so it's definitely a close field here at Edmonton, and I think tomorrow's going to be a lot of great racing. I'm excited for tomorrow, and I think we'll be able to give K12 a good showing tomorrow and to continue on with our momentum the rest of the season."
The potential for rain exists for tomorrow's action, which could throw another huge variable into the equation for each of the categories, but rain or shine, we'll be back tomorrow evening with another trackside update from Edmonton.
As always, thanks so much for support Andretti Autosport.