IRL: Penske pair dominate Edmonton qualifying

By Andy Darley

CalendarSaturday, July 26th, 2008

 
 

On a circuit where the ex-Champ Car teams were expected to have the edge, it was the traditional IRL powerhouse of Team Penske that locked out the front row in qualifying for the Rexall Edmonton Indy.

Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves will start this race exactly where they finished the previous one at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – in first and second places.

Behind them are a cluster of Edmonton veterans, all eager to demonstrate the experience they gained of the city centre airport course during the years when Champ Car ran there.

The KV Racing Technology pair of Oriol Servia and Will Power took third and fifth, sandwiching series leader Scott Dixon between them. Justin Wilson reached the final six-place shoot-out for pole but was unable to set a lap, having damaged his car at the end of session two, and will start sixth.

All three Edmonton Champ Car races were won either by Wilson (driving for his previous team, RuSPORT) or his current team Newman/Haas/Lanigan with Sebastien Bourdais. He said: “It was a really good day, right up to the end of the second session. I’m sure the guys will do a good job putting the car back together and we will be able to challenge for the win.

“I was trying to push too hard into Turn 6 when I lost the car, caught it once, but it got away from me again. The McDonald’s team have done a great job this weekend and it’s really unfortunate that we weren’t able to go out in the Firestone Fast Six because I was looking forward to going after pole position.”

More ex-Champ Car drivers are lined up behind him, with only Target Chip Ganassi’s Dan Wheldon flying the flag for the pre-merger IRL teams in ninth. Bruno Junqueira and Graham Rahal will start seventh and eighth, Mario Moraes and Enrique Bernoldi 10th and 11th.

Marco Andretti, Jaime Camara and Dan Wheldon at the Rexall Edmonton Indy

Marco Andretti, Jaime Camara and Dan Wheldon at the Rexall Edmonton Indy

By contrast, the curious decline of Andretti Green Racing continued. Of its four drivers, only Tony Kanaan set a time fast enough to make it into the top 12 from the first qualifying sessions – only to spin off afterwards and damage his engine so badly that it had to be replaced, sending him to the back of the 27-car grid.

Of the other Brits in the field, Darren Manning qualified 18th for AJ Foyt Racing while there was once again no sign of Jay Howard, supposedly running for Roth Racing. There is no clear news on whether he will race again this season – Indianapolis Star blogger Curt Cavin wrote: “Marty [Roth] hasn’t said what he’s doing with his program, and his crew seems to be as in the dark as anyone.”

Starting line-up

  1. Ryan Briscoe, Team Penske
  2. Helio Castroneves, Team Penske
  3. Oriol Servia, KV Racing Technology
  4. Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing
  5. Will Power, KV Racing Technology
  6. Justin Wilson, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing,
  7. Bruno Junqueira, Dale Coyne Racing
  8. Graham Rahal, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
  9. Dan Wheldon, Chip Ganassi Racing
  10. Mario Moraes, Dale Coyne Racing
  11. Enrique Bernoldi, Conquest Racing
  12. Marco Andretti, Andretti Green Racing
  13. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Rahal Letterman Racing
  14. Danica Patrick, Andretti Green Racing
  15. Paul Tracy, Vision Racing
  16. Vitor Meira, Panther Racing
  17. A.J. Foyt IV, Vision Racing
  18. Darren Manning, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
  19. Mario Dominguez, Pacific Coast Motorsports
  20. E.J. Viso, HVM Racing
  21. Hideki Mutoh, Andretti Green Racing
  22. Buddy Rice, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
  23. Ed Carpenter, Vision Racing
  24. Townsend Bell, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
  25. Marty Roth, Roth Racing
  26. Jaime Camara, Conquest Racing
  27. Tony Kanaan, Andretti Green Racing

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