Tagliani has learned to adapt

DAVID CAMERON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

Yesterday morning was a meet-and-greet and race-school with Alex Tagliani at Edmonton International Raceway in Wetaskiwin.

The quarter-mile oval has as much in common with the City Centre Airport course as Slave Lake has with Lake Superior.

And the vehicles that race on it have as much in common as a boogie van and a Porsche.

Still, Tagliani is a driver that knows both.

You may forget: "Tag" is a defending race champ at the Rexall Edmonton Indy.

Did he blow past Scott Dixon when we weren't looking?

No, Tagliani won the NASCAR Canadian Tire series race.

Without an Indy ride last year, he teamed up with fellow Quebecer Andrew Ranger in a Tide/Walmart car for Dave Jacombs Racing. It was a unique pairing of the only two drivers to race at City Centre in both types of cars -- open wheel and stock.

"Last year, in NASCAR Canada, it was a really good race for me with my limited experience in NASCAR," Tagliani said. "But (previous experience) allowed me to get used to the car quicker, because I knew the track from racing in ChampCar."

In the stock car, "the technical part of the track allowed me to compensate for a lack of straightaway speed. Our car was pretty good in the infield and a little slower on the straightaway.

"I was always under attack every restart by (eventual season winner Scott) Steckly, but at the end, as soon as I could get one or two laps in a row, I could pull away."

He hopes last year's experience does the same in the opposite direction.

"When you drive two different cars on the same track, you can understand how differently they need to be driven.

"One car (the stocker), you can't do a lot of things with it. You have to baby the thing, save your tires, save your brakes.

"The other car, you just have to put in all the intensity, all the effort.

"It's really demanding because you can push that car to the limit and the track is really grippy for an IndyCar here.

"There's probably 25-seconds-a-lap difference between an IndyCar and a NASCAR. With two different machines in my hand, I think I learned a lot of particularities of the track because of that."


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