Leaders of the Indy pack

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:23 AM ET

It’s the usual fellas in the front.

But the Honda Indy Edmonton race, at least in the beginning, might be in the back.

And don’t be expecting 94 of 95 laps of green flag racing like there was here last year.

Not with Tony Kaanan in 24th.

Not with Dan Wheldon in 22nd.

Not with Danica Patrick in 21st.

Not with Alex Tagliani in 19th.

Not with Marco Andretti in 14th.

Not with Paul Tracy in 15th.

While Will Power, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe qualified in the top five for Sunday’s IZOD IndyCar Series race, as always it will likely be with them in the end.

“Yeah, it’s going to be a really hard battle for sure. Another epic one between Penske and Ganassi,” said Briscoe of the fast five all being from the top two teams.

But in the beginning, watch the back of the pack where Milka Duno starts on probation for the rest of the season and will have some big names in the series not far in front of her.

Past the front five, the rest of the field isn’t what you normally see in the series.

E.J. Viso made it to the third row for the first time. And rookie Simona de Silvestro had her best qualifying of the season to start in her best position, seventh, so far in her career.

The results, as expected with the draw for qualifying groups the night before, left an interesting set-up for Sunday’s race.

The potential for it to work out something like this was obvious the evening before when the draw for starting groups resulted in most of the top drivers in Group 1.

“We were put in the hardest group possible (Saturday),” said Canadian Paul Tracy. “There were three Penskes, a Ganassi car, Justin Wilson and others. That group was just stacked with a lot of fast guys.

“It’s a shame because we didn’t have enough to transfer to the second round. We missed by a little (Saturday).

“It’s tough to start 15th on Sunday. We’ll have to drive through the field in the race.”

Danica Patrick is used to starting toward the back of the pack. Her start positions here have been 14th,

20th and now 21st. She’s going backward.

“Coming off a strong weekend in Toronto, we were hoping to keep the momentum going into Edmonton,” she said of a sixth-place finish last week in the GoDaddy car.

“It was really a tough qualifying group and I didn’t have the speed (Saturday).

“The first couple laps of the race will be very important. Hopefully we’ll come out with some clean laps,” she said.

Kaanan, who was the focus of what happened here last year when he was trapped in his car when it caught on fire in the pits, made contact in Turn 7 in his first qualifying session in the weaker group.

“I’m driving the car so I’m the one to blame,” he said.

“You try to set the world on fire because you trust in yourself and have a lot of confidence that you can make a difference. Sometimes you go over the limit,” he said.

“It’s frustrating to start where we are,” said Andretti. “We’ll do the best we can to make the best out of the race.”

And so it went.

At the front, however, it was fun.

“It was really exciting as usual,” said Briscoe, the Penske driver who was part of a 1-2-3 qualifying last year.

“It was really fast and bumpy but you could really attack the bumps.

“I was hoping for a shot at the pole (Saturday). But I started on the front row the last two years here and didn’t win the race, so maybe fifth is good.”

It’s Briscoe’s sixth top-five start of the season and Franchitti’s seventh consecutive top five start of the

year.

Castroneves has started no worse than third in his three races here. Dixon will be making his 43 consecutive top-10 start to extend his series record.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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