Positive first impressions of Indy track

Dario Franchitti returns from a track inspection in preparation for the Edmonton Indy on Thursday....

Dario Franchitti returns from a track inspection in preparation for the Edmonton Indy on Thursday. (QMI Agency/Ian Kucerak)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:14 PM ET

EDMONTON - As always, they were offered two varieties of transportation.

Golf cart.

Or ankle express.

Most chose to walk the new 3.63-kilometre, 13-turn layout at the opposite end of City Centre Airport to where the six previous Edmonton Indy races were held.

From 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. the 26 drivers of the Edmonton Indy were given a window to inspect the new course for the race.

While it could change dramatically in the practice sessions Friday, most of the first impressions were favourable.

Canada’s Paul Tracy, who had a look at the place a couple of months ago before it was anything resembling a race track, was most impressed with not just the new track, but the entire setup around it.

“I am very impressed with the job Octane has done with this track,” said Canada’s Paul Tracy who, along with Justin Wilson, will become the only drivers to compete in all seven races, although Canada’s Alex Tagliani has five plus a Canadian Tire stock-car support series win on the year he didn’t race IndyCars.

“It’s a big step forward in terms of the overall facility compared to the ‘old fun track.’

“They’re taking it to a new level.

“They’ve re-paved most of the track. What was known as a rough, tough track before is now a demanding and technical race facility.

“I’m expecting the weekend to be very exciting for both the fans and drivers alike,” he said.

“Based on our track walk today, the straights are longer and the corners are a lot tighter than I originally thought,” said rookie points leader J.R. Hildebrand.

“It’s definitely going to be tough, given that it’s a new track for all of us,” he added.

“They’ve done a good job with design,” offered 2009 winner Will Power.

“I think it will be a somewhat technical track and it will be physical as well. The track looks very good with lots of room for racing and plenty of areas to pass. I think we’ll have very competitive and close racing this weekend.”

The site is open to the public for the first time Friday beginning at 7 a.m., with practice for the 49-car field in the NASCC Eurasia Cup beginning at 8:15.

Local 18-year-old driver Stefan Rzadzinski gets his first laps in his new Firestone Indy Lights ride in the hour-long practice session of the support series, featuring a field of 16.

From 11:15 until 12:30 the 26 IndyCars get their first practice laps on the new layout.

The Indy Lights are back on the track for an hour at 1:25 and the final practice for the IZOD IndyCar

Series goes at 2:45. A drivers autograph session is scheduled for an hour beginning at 4:30.

Twitter.com/sunterryjones


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