June 1, 2011
Tagliani makes pit stop in Calgary
By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Alex Tagliani went from pole-sitter to wall-hitter, but his car is headed in the right direction.
With summer stops in Toronto and Edmonton, the IndyCar driver hopes to use the momentum of his Indianapolis 500 pole position win for glory on home soil.
“I’m confident the team will be back on top again shortly,” said Tagliani, who made a stop in Calgary Tuesday to promote the Edmonton Indy race July 22-24.
“Maybe we sweep the two Canadian races? That would be amazing for us. We’re on a good path. Our goal is show up in Canada in the top five in points and show that our team is really strong.”
Unfortunately for the racer from Montreal, his Indy 500 run Sunday didn’t finish as well as he started. With 52 laps remaining in the 100th anniversary of the race, Tagliani rubbed the wall in Turn 4, knocking him out of action.
Two days after the heartbreak, the 38-year-old is already able to reflect on his historic achievement.
“My mom was even crying before the national anthem,” Tagliani said. “It was neat to have my parents there.
“Once I finished the pace lap behind A.J. Foyt, my heart-rate was probably higher than when I cycle for training.
“Just knowing I was the first Canadian on the pole leading 33 cars for the 100th anniversary for the race, it was a dream come true and something I will remember forever.”
The Edmonton Indy will have a different feel to it this year with a reconfigured race-track. The new circuit features three long straightaways and two hairpin turns, which should allow for more excitement.
Tagliani said fans are the ones who benefit most, as any spectator can see about
75% of the track from wherever they are sitting.
“This track is amazing,” Tagliani said. “It’s going to be the future configuration for race courses in our sport.
“You need long straightaways to allow people to draft. You need a braking zone to be able to pass. This track is unique.”
There are four Indy races before the green flag drops in Edmonton, including the Toronto Indy set for July 10 on the streets of Big Smoke.
Tagliani will have a busy season, as he’s set to race twice in NASCAR during the NAPA Auto Parts 200 race
Aug. 19-20 in Montreal.
Although Tagliani prefers open-wheel racing, he couldn’t pass up the chance to have another run on Canadian soil.
“Racing in Montreal on the Gilles Villeneuve race course with the No. 12 Penske car is something you can’t refuse,” Tagliani said. “I always wanted to drive for Penske. I didn’t have the chance to do it in Indy. To do it in NASCAR is unique.”
The Edmonton Indy started in 2005 and has never had a Canadian winner.
The race was almost cancelled this year before Octane Motorsports Events unveiled the new track at the Edmonton City Centre Airport.
Tagliani, who won the 2007 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race in Edmonton, would like to make history again.
“If we can come out of there with a win, it will create a huge attraction for every Canadian who has supported us throughout my career in racing,” Tagliani said.
“The vibe will be amazing during that weekend.”