Indy drivers ready to roll

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:53 PM ET

EDMONTON - Ready or not, here they come. And they're not ready.

Series leader Dario Franchitti qualified fourth for today's Edmonton Indy on the new track layout.

And he's not ready.

"This track is tricky and I don't think that Scott or I are completely happy with our cars yet," the Scotsman who is Ashley Judd's husband said of the two-time and defending Edmonton race champion from New Zealand.

"So the fact that the Target cars are starting third and fourth is good for us.

"If we fix some of our imbalances, we should be in good shape. There is such a compromise between certain corners on the track and others. It makes it very interesting."

Dixon said it's a test for the whole team.

"It's a very technical course here. I think if I could have managed to get Turn 11 right, I probably would have had the pole.

"It's such a tricky track that you lose your speed in that last corner," said the winner of two of the last three races here.

Penske driver Will Power is on the front row beside pole winner Takuma Sako of Japan, with teammates Ryan Briscoe sixth and Helio Castroneves back in ninth.

"It's pretty intense," he said of driving this new place to race.

"It's not easy to piece together a solid lap. So much time can be gained by braking late. But it is so easy to mess up the braking zones.

"I love learning new tracks and I think everyone has done an amazing job on this circuit for the drivers and spectators. It's a great track. It looks great. And it's pretty smooth.

"All the paving they've done is beautiful. The place looks good."

The qualifying sessions were without incident and the 26 drivers were quite careful throughout most of their first day on the new track.

Out in the morning for their first practice, the cars were forced to take a lane between a pair of puddles in the technical section at the start of their practice session and managed to keep their cars on the track.

It was nothing like the first year on the old track in 2005 or the first year after merger in 2008, when they were like lawn mowers going through the weeds spinning off the track and making contact with walls and tire safety barriers.

The second time out they started pushing it. Several drivers had to use the run-off area between the stands at the end of the kilometre-long straightaway as they tried to find their braking spot going into the 90-degree left hander at Turn 1.

Despite the fact there were only 16 cars in the Firestone Indy Lights' first of two races here this year, there was plenty of actin, including a spectacular crash involving Peter Dempsey of Ireland flipping his car on Turn 1.

The race started with four Canadians in the field and three of them -- Tyler Dueck of Abbotsford, B.C., David Ostella of Maple, Ont. and Daniel Morad of Toronto didn't make it past Turn 5 of the first lap when they were collected in a five car mess.

The other Canadian, 18-year-old Sefan Rzadzinski of Edmonton, in his very first Indy Lights race, ended up registering a top 10. Looks good on the resume. But only 11 cars were running at the end and he'd put it in the weeds at one point.

It just wasn't much of a day for Canadians overall.

Paul Tracy will start his seventh Edmonton Indy on the back row in 25th and Alex Tagliani in 17th.

Rookie James Hinchcliffe managed to qualify through the first round and goes into the race on the outside of the fifth row in 10th, with three-time Indianpolis 500 winner Castroneves beside him and big names such as Tony Kanaan (11th), Sebastian Bourdais (12th), Graham Rahal (13th), Justin Wilson (15th), Simona de Silvestro 16th, Marco Andretti (19th) and Danica Patrick (22nd) behind him.

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones


Videos

Photos