Tough day for Canadian drivers

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:54 PM ET

EDMONTON - If you were short on time Saturday, it would have been better to ask Paul Tracy what went right in qualifying rather than what went wrong.

What went right was a one-word answer: Nothing.

What went wrong?

If you've got a few minutes, we'll let Tracy tell it.

"We're just terrible, the car is not handling at all," sighed the Canadian racing legend, who's so far back on the grid he'll barely be in the same time zone as pole sitter Takuma Sato when the flag drops on the Edmonton Indy Sunday.

"It won't go into the corners, it won't stop without locking the brakes, it won't roll through the corners without sliding, I can't put the power on without spinning the tires.

"Every part of the handling is not what it needs to be. It's slow. And we also had some issues with some of the wiring so we couldn't get any of the telemetry of the car. It was just one thing after another. It was frustrating."

Other than emerging from the qualifying session accident-free, virtually nothing went the way Tracy and his team had hoped, so he'll start 25th in a field of 26 cars, at the back of the pack with four rookies and Danica Patrick.

"We've never been this bad before here," he said. "I've always had a pretty decent car here. Even though we might not have qualified well, we were fast in practice. We have not been fast at all here. We're not a factor to win as of right now."

Tracy has started from way back before and battled his way through the field, but he isn't banking on a similar charge this time. The car just isn't fast enough or tight enough.

"It's always been a good track for me, I've never finished worse than sixth here. It looks like that streak will probably come to an end."

He says they were behind the pack from the word go.

"We've only had two short practice sessions and we don't have a lot of time to react. We'll try something different for Sunday because leaving it the same isn't going to do anything for us."

Which means going in cold again. The normally aggressive Tracy says it might just be in his best interests to play a conservative game and wait out what could be a Toronto-like battle of attrition.

"I think there's going to be a lot of accidents Sunday with these hairpins and tight running. It's going to be a hard race. If we can just survive and get a decent finish " it would be great if we can finish inside the top 12."

Fellow Canadian Alex Tagliani also had a bitter day of qualifying -- he'll start 17th on the grid -- but at least he's optimistic that they'll have everything ironed out by race day.

"It's one of the most disappointing qualifyings that we had all year," said Tagliani, whose had two poles this year, including one at Indianapolis. "We just have to roll up our sleeves and work hard. I don't think this is representative of what it's capable of doing, we just had a bad qualifying.

"We just need to fix it and we'll be OK Sunday."

With one car in the field, the Sam Schmidt Motorsports team doesn't have the advantage of running different setups on different cars on this new track and then comparing data. So they, and all the other single-vehicle teams, are scrambling to find the right mix.

"Having a one-car team, if you get the setup wrong you're basically done and that's what happened in this particular qualifying session," he said. "It's disappointing, but we have a good team and we're going to get it back on track. Racing will be different because our car is much quicker than that."

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