All roads lead north

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:39 AM ET

There are two great races on the IndyCar calendar this week.

There's the one in Edmonton. And there's the one to get to Edmonton.

Saturday's Rexall Edmonton Indy is on a 1.973-mile circuit. It'll take two hours.

The race to get here is 1,686 miles - or 2,714 kilometres - and, depending on where you make your pit stops, it could take anywhere from 36 to 50 hours.

There's no run like it this year.

With only six days between races combined with the furthest hauling distance between events this year, this is the trip from hell for the teams that will contest their sixth race in six consecutive weekends and ninth in 10, dating back to the Indianapolis 500 in May.

The goal is to get here by 10 a.m. tomorrow morning when the gates to the track open for the teams.

At the end of the race in Mid-Ohio Sunday afternoon, the cars and equipment went into the haulers and headed down the road.

OVERNIGHT WORK

Many teams have shops in Indianapolis, so they headed there to get overnight work done.

The Newman-Haas-Lanigan team hauled to their shop in Lincolnshire, Ill., an hour north of Chicago, after the race.

They had a few hours loading and shop time and then headed for Edmonton where, when they arrive, Graham Rahal's 'Hole In The Wall Camps' car will have been magically transformed into an Edmonton Oilers and/or Rexall logo car for a photo-op to announce what Sun Media revealed last week - a deal with the new Oilers owner and race sponsor as a result of a $500,000 donation to Paul Newman's 'Hole In The Wall Camps' charity.

WIGGLE ROOM

"We figure 36 to 40 hours, but you have to give yourself some wiggle room time for customs, weather, construction and everything else," said NHLR's Kathi Lauterbach.

"We're flying our crews in Tuesday. They'll be in place when the cars arrive.

"We're just happy we don't have any major repairs and everybody is very happy we're not coming from an oval race with all the set-up changes you have to make from oval to a road course."

Actually, there was a minimum amount of carnage at Mid-Ohio.

Twenty-three of the 26 cars in the race were still running at the end, and only Marco Andretti and Enrique Bernoldi left the race as a result of contact. They're all headed here, plus Canada's Paul Tracy with a one-race Subway-sponsored entry to make it a 27-car race.

Roger Penske's team should have the most enjoyable trip to town with Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves having finished 1-2 at Mid-Ohio.

Team manager Tom Wurtz said he expects his team will win the race to Edmonton, although "I hope it's not really a race."

While many of the crews headed to shops in Indianapolis, Team Penske didn't. Theirs is in North Carolina.

"We stayed a little later after the race in Mid-Ohio to get as much done as we could there and it'll be a long set-up day when we get to Edmonton," said Wurtz, who was here in the Can-Am days with the black Shadow car driven by Jackie Oliver.

"We'll probably be the first team to arrive up there because just about everybody else went back to a shop right after the race."

DID THEIR HOMEWORK

IndyCar headquarters did their homework and recommended the teams work their way west through the U.S. until they hit North Dakota, and suggested they then take the old bootlegger route up to the border crossing south of Moose Jaw so the Canadian customs people would have the familiarity of what they are dealing with.

If you picture the Castroneves and Briscoe cars in the back of a Penske rental truck, you don't quite get the idea of what the customs people will be experiencing in Saskatchewan later today.

There are two enormous transporters plus a massive motorhome, with two drivers each.

Not like the old days when Roger Penske and Mark Donohue used to come here and race the Can-Am event. Legend has it that when Penske Racing began, on the first trip up here, Penske was paying Donohue $50 a day for his services and he had to drive the truck when he wasn't driving the race car.

"I can imagine it," said Wurtz.

"In those days, everybody was driving."


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