Today I had practice and qualifying for tomorrow's 50 laps Edmonton Indy Lights race. I had walked the track yesterday and was excited to see how the circuit actually drove. The first few laps were very very dusty and even at the end of practice, there was dust being cleaned off. However, I managed times throughout the session that put me in the 5th-7th place range. We made some changes to the car to improve a handling issue and were pretty happy heading into the qualifying. I ended up 7th, within a couple tenths of my teammate who has raced here in the past.
As the sun baked the track (and the Indy Cars put a lot of rubber down), I knew that the track I would encounter in qualify would be very different from the morning's practice. Right away, I could see the racing line more clearly with a lot more rubber down. We ran a set of used tires ( the ones from practice) to start with, and then we put on the first set of sticker tires. I made a big improvement on time and when I set that time, I was 5th. Then as people changed tires, I slid down to 9th. We stopped, made a change to the car, and put on our second set of new tires. There was 10 minutes to go in the session and it would be my last shot. I did a couple of quick laps that moved me up to 7th before taking a lap to cool the tires. I had another 4 laps before the checkered and did a time that moved me up to 6th. The next lap, I was pushing hard and nearly clouted the wall in Turn 1. So I backed off to give myself some clean track for my last two laps, figuring others would improve as well and I would get bumped down the order. I did my last two laps, but the best of the tires had gone. I still managed to end up 6th quickest. I am only .1 of a second behind Saavedra in fifth. The top 4 drivers had all raced at Edmonton before. With the rough track surface and the fast flowing corners, having been here before is a big advantage- especially since we only got 1 hour to learn the track. Tomorrow should be a great race. It is really hot and a very physical track. I am sure that people will make mistakes as the tires wear out at the end of the race.
Saturday July 25th:
Race (100 Miles/ 50 laps) 2:00-3:00 PM