Edmonton Preview

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The IZOD IndyCar Series continues its Canadian trek, as the series moves west from Toronto to take on the wide-open and bumpy Edmonton City Centre Airport for the Honda Indy Edmonton this weekend.

This is where Will Power won his first race in an IndyCar. He won the IRL sanctioned event at Long Beach in 2008, during the Champ Car finale and the farewell to the Panoz DP-01; but this was his first win in a Dallara. Seeing the bright yellow Team Penske entry in victory lane was reminiscent of watching Big Al driving the Cummins/Holset Turbo sponsored March/Cosworth to an improbable victory at Indianapolis for The Captain in 1987.

Unfortunately for Power, he didn’t get much time to savor the victory. His part-time season ended in a practice crash at Sonoma just a few weeks later that resulted in a broken back. The injury doesn’t seem to have slowed him down much. He is pretty well making a mockery of this season’s championship. In fact, about the only way that Power could be out of first place after this weekend would be if he stayed home and Dario Franchitti won the race. Otherwise, he would still be in the lead. But that isn’t happening. Will Power will most certainly defend his Edmonton crown this weekend.

This is an interesting venue. It could be the bumpiest surface that the IZOD IndyCar Series races on. The future of this event has been in question as far back as last year’s race there. The race has been financially strapped for years. But on the eve of this year’s race, the Edmonton City Council voted 7-5 to negotiate a three-year deal with the same group that promotes the Formula One race in Montreal (which is another venue I’d love to see the IICS visit). This gives new life to this troubled race. Earlier this week, ticket sales were down twenty percent even though corporate sales were reportedly up over last year.

I have to admit that by the time Champ Car started racing at Edmonton in 2005, I had pretty well given up on the former CART series. I never boycotted them. I was squarely in the CART corner in the late nineties. But by the time Penske, Rahal, Ganassi and AGR had migrated over to the IRL, I just kind of stopped watching. The first race that I watched at Edmonton was in 2008, when it was one of the races absorbed into the IndyCar schedule after unification. That race was run on a Saturday in order to not conflict with the Brickyard 400 at IMS.

That was logical because it didn’t make sense to compete with another Hulman property. Oddly enough however, they have chosen to run the next two races at Edmonton on the same day as the Brickyard. In my opinion, this is a race that needs to defer to NASCAR – especially with NASCAR running at the track that essentially owns the IZOD IndyCar Series. It makes no sense ratings-wise.

Anyway, back to the track…Racing at airports is nothing new. CART did it for years while providing some of the best racing at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland. The street race at St. Petersburg is run partially on an airport runway. While Edmonton’s airport race hasn’t produced any Cleveland type racing in the last two events, both races have been entertaining.

What I remember most about this race two years ago, is the closed door meeting in the Andretti-Green trailer afterwards. Tony Kanaan was the only AGR car having a decent day. As he was about to lap two of his teammates, Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick, they inexplicably would not let him by. After Kanaan finally passed them both, Marco punted Danica into the tire barrier. Michael Andretti was not happy.

Last year was Power’s well-earned victory. He has since shown that that was no fluke.

We are at the point in the season where the leaders will begin to pull away, while some early season hopefuls will start fading away. Scott Dixon has had a mediocre season, to this point. He sits in a distant third place, seventy-eight points out of the lead. Will he make one last stand or will this be the race where he essentially gives up on the championship? So far, he has done nothing to disprove owner Chip Ganassi’s harsh statement that he never saw having a child, make a driver go faster.

The other two Penske drivers need to have a good run this weekend. Actually, by “good run”, I mean they really need to win. Rumors persist that if Roger Penske doesn’t find sponsorship for Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe, one of them may be sent packing in the offseason. That would be a shame because I like them both, but it speaks of these strange economic times.

Justin Wilson has won this race before. In fact, in his Champ Car days driving for RuSport – he finished fourth in 2005, first in 2006 and second in 2007. Then, the next year, he drove to a third place finish for Newman-Haas in 2008. His worst Edmonton finish was eighth, while driving for Dale Coyne. He returns this year with a strong Dreyer & Reinbold team, coming off of the heels of a race he possibly could have won had he not spun on his own in the closing laps. I expect him to be out to prove something this weekend.

Paul Tracy is back for another go in the KV Racing Technology effort. The only real anticipation with this team is now waiting to see which driver(s) will crash on a given weekend. They are up to twenty crashed cars thus far in 2010, with seven races to go. I’d say the odds are good that at least one of the four drivers will find the wall this weekend.

One team that I think will struggle is Andretti Autosport. The best an Andretti car has finished at Edmonton is when Tony Kanaan finished ninth in 2008 – the year he was held up by his teammates. Other than that unspectacular finish, it has been a bag of forgettable finishes for that team. I look for that trend to continue this weekend. Ryan Hunter-Reay once finished eighth at Edmonton while racing for Rahal-Letterman, but fared no better than seventeenth  driving for AJ Foyt last year. I just have this feeling that the entire Andretti team will be happy to leave Alberta on Sunday night.

So who will win? A betting man might let the chips ride and take Will Power once again. Three in a row is a tall order for any driver. These things just aren’t that easy to win. I think Power will smartly collect points and not go for the kill. Therefore, I’m going to pick Justin Wilson to atone for his embarrassing mistake last week and bring home the win for Dreyer & Reinbold. They are both due.

George Phillips

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14 Responses to “Edmonton Preview”

  1. *Flipping coin* A Ganassi car will win this week. *Flipping* Coin says Dixon.

    My energy level for the series thus far has been about as low as it’s been says the early IRL days when CART had all the name drivers, and the IRL was mostly people I never heard of and seemed to be the USFL–the place you went when you couldn’t find a spot in real football.

    I want to be cryogenically frozen and reawakened in 2012.

  2. I’m pulling for Wilson to win and Simona to get another top 10. My prop bet for this race is “will Moraes crash before they park Milka?”

    I think they should avoid scheduling against another car race (Nascar) whenever possible, but certainly when it’s the Brickyard.

  3. At least the TV coverage for the Brickyard 400 and Edmonton don’t overlap. The NASCAR race is televised from 12:00-5:00 eastern on ESPN (1:00 pm start) and the IICS is televised from 5:00-8:00 eastern in Versus (6:00 start). With proper advertising during the Brickyard there could feasibly be some fans that will transition over to Versus after NASCAR for some IICS action.

    Barring any rain delay issues or an overabundance of cautions in Speedway, IN we should all be in for a great afternoon of racing without any scheduling conflicts.

  4. I like Wilson and Power, but my guy is RHR!

  5. Trick Dickle Says:

    With a 6:00 EST start on a Sunday afternoon, this could be the worst rated Indy Car race in the history of TV ratings.

    Penske will win. Penske wins most of the races. If they don’t, Ganassi will.

    Rinse and repeat.

    • And no matter what happens, Dick Trickle will leave 16 nearly identical and incredibly negative comments in blogs all over the internets.

      I’ll ask again. What…are you still doing here if you hate everything that happens so much? If I were you, I’d have found a different hobby long, long ago. I certainly wouldn’t spend my free time cruising blogs concerned with something that I detested.

    • I like the late start because I will be done with all of my work around the house. I have a lot to do and now I can get it done, call it a day and kick back and enjoy the race. I love Sunday Night Football on NBC for the same reason. Particularly when the Bears are playing!

      • Brian McKay Says:

        I like evening broadcasts, too. Daytime/midday is for so much else. I’m thinking of that midday Watkins Glen broadcast — brilliant (NOT!).

  6. S-geek–that dude has nothing to contribute to the discussion, he just gets attention by being a dick. he’ll fade away when he finally gets a girlfriend.

  7. Trick Dickle Says:

    Good comeback Redd Foxx. Where is your rim shot?

    Instead of the personal attacks from dipweeds like SpeedDork, why not refute what I said (for once)? And if you don’t like it, then don’t respond. Keep pom-pomming it and thinking everything is great and enjoy yourself.

    Why the holy hell would you schedule a race on a Sunday afternoon in the summertime at 6:00 EST? (I know, you have to avoid the big, bad Cup race).

    You couldn’t pick a worse TV time, if you tried. This sport is DYING, because of lack of interest and lack of eyeballs watching. Its almost like they are trying to kill it.

    Its bad enough they are at some outpost like the Edmonton airport, on Versus, competing against the Brickyard 400. They are fighting with their hands tied behind their back before they even get to the ring. But then to put the race on at 6:00 EST (a time, when NOBODY is watching TV) is just goofy.

    No race outside Indy has even gotten a 1 rating this year. This sport is only going to make it, if sponsors see some value in the series. Right now, it has none (except for one day a year). Continuing with these sorts of goofball start times, isn’t going to help matters.

    And Paul Tracy is one that would agree wholehearteldy with all of these statements.

    • okay, trickle, I gotta admit I came home last night after a few too many Miller Lites and my comment has really been buggin’ me since then. I thought I was being clever and making a joke on your name, but I wasn’t clever at all. I’m sure I’m in total disagreement with your negativity towards the series, but that’s no excuse whatsoever to call you a name. That was wrong of me, and crass of me, and I apologize–not for being in total disagreement with you, but for making it personal–and against everything George wants from his blog. so–I disagree with you Trick totally, but I’m sorry I called you a name. I feel bad about that. And I especially apologize to George, because I know he expects better of us Oilpressure fans.

    • The point is this: I’ve seen you leaving nearly 100% negative comments about the IndyCar series for months now. If 100% of what is going on is bad in your mind, then why are you still a fan? And why would you go leaving comments on blogs about something that you hate? Me? I have no use for the fashion world, and I find what goes on there (what little I hear) 100% annoying. I don’t have any time in my life to go on to fashion blogs to make fun of people or carp that things there are lame. Life’s too short for that.

      The main sentiment that I get from you over and over again is “everything is broken!” We have management in place that is trying to fix everything that they can (and there is a lot broken, because there have been a lot of years when people were doing nothing but breaking stuff), and they’re doing it as quickly as possible. But, there’s no magic wand that anybody can wave to fix everything overnight. What I get from you is that when things aren’t fixed this week you say “everything sucks!” Then, when things aren’t 100% fixed the next week (again, because it takes time to fix stuff) it’s “everything sucks!” Dude. Relax. We’ve got folks running the sport now who know that this is a business and that they have to look after the customers (the fans). Give them some freaking time to deal with all of the problems that they have, will you?

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