Pivotal #EdmontonIndy May Prove P2P Strategy Key To Winning
Going into the 11th race in a shortened 15 race season, the driver’s championship is as competitive as ever. Ryan Hunter-Reay has vaulted into first place after winning three straight races, while the Franchitti, who won his fourth drivers’ championship in 2011, has struggled. He’s in eighth spot, 13 points ahead of Briscoe.
The last two years ended in disappointment for the Penske driver, Will Power, who ended up in P2 on the last race of the season, and up until he lost his left front tire to a Josef Newgarden weakened broken wing section that came off and caused a puncture, he looked as though he would be able to retain the points lead built upon with three season wins of his own.
Last year, Will Power was behind Dario Franchitti and needing a win to get back into contention after loosing points in Toronto. This year, Power is pretty much in the same position but this time his chief rival is Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay who is ahead by 34 points by winning on two ovals and one road course. The Achilles heel for Penske and Will Power in securing a championship has always been ovals. Edmonton represents a must win situation as it did last year for Will Power but all things are not the same.
First off, we find ourselves in the infancy of the DW12 era with new engines. It appears that this new chassis outfitted with the Chevrolet engine, performs a little better than the Honda engine under racing conditions. Of the top five drivers in the points chase, four of the five are powered by Chevrolet engines (P1 – Ryan Hunter-Reay, P2 – Will Power, P3 – Helio Castroneves, P5 – James Hinchcliffe). The only Honda to spoil the “bowtie” party for the championship is Scott Dixon in P5.
Secondly, the IZOD IndyCar Series has decided to add another wrinkle into the mix for Street/Road courses – of which four of the last five races are to be contested. This driver controlled element to performance is called Push-to-Pass or P2P. These new engines are outfitted with a turbo-charger which boosts additional power through compression to the engine and the P2P gives each driver additional boost controlled by a button on the steering wheel for a total of 100 seconds.The reason P2P is very important to a driver’s strategy at Edmonton is because of the unique character of the new layout introduced just last year (so the contending drivers have seen the track before). The track is a 2.25 mile temporary road course set up on an airport runway/tarmac in Edmonton.
The course is unusual in that it tracks counter-clockwise and features 13 turns, a nasty hairpin turn that separates two long straights made from a landing/takeoff runway, and another slightly curved straight that dives into another situation similar to ” Turn 3″ at the end of the only high speed straight in Toronto.
Turn 1 out of the pits and at the end of the long straight past the Start/Finish line (the longest of the new layout). The corner is an unusual left hand power turn (120%) that leads to a speed section with a slight right-hand kink at Turn 2 and a high-speed left/right jig at turns 3 and 4.
The second kinked straight ends at Turn 5 in another hard left-hand turn (curved 180%) that tracks through a curvy section that was used in the previous layout.
Lastly, starting at turns 10 and 11, a long 150 mph straight made from a landing/takeoff runway that ends in a nasty hairpin at turn 13 that starts the process over again with the longest straight (3/4th of a mile – nearly 200 mph) in this course.
Whoever has the best strategy to manage and where to engage the 100 seconds of P2P just may end up having the advantage on this course.
Again, turns #1, #5, and #13 are pivotal to the fortunes (or lack thereof) of these teams and drivers and the Edmonton Indy is uniquely situated in the season, with just 5 races left, to set the tone to the end – Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, Grand Prix of Baltimore, and the season finale at Auto Club Speedway.
… notes from The EDJE
Edmonton Indy, Edmonton, AB, City Centre Raceway, Knockout Qualifications, ending with the Firestone Fast Six – 2:00 to 3:15PM ET Sat. July 21, Race Coverage – 11:00AM to 4:00PM ET Sun. July 22 on NBC Sports Network
UPDATE – Reset Grid Assignments:
With this morning’s warmup in the books, the starting grid for today’s Edmonton Indy (2:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network) is set with three of the top four drivers in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship kicked into the pack after 10-spot grid penalties for unapproved engine changes.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (qualified on pole), Will Power (qualified 7th), and Scott Dixon (qualified 8th) — first, second and fourth in the standings respectively — will have to wind their way through the field and perhaps play a bit of strategy in order to get back up front.
Their penalties may prove fortuitous for Helio Castroneves, who sits third in the standings and will start fifth in the race after qualifying sixth on Saturday. Castroneves has earned three second-place finishes in four starts at Edmonton and wants to finally get the top spot on the podium there.
Dixon was the fastest in this morning’s warmup session, posting a lap of 76.9006 seconds in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Rubens Barrichello was second-quickest and Mike Conway bounced back from mechanical woes in qualifying to go P3, indicating the strong pace he’s had at times over the weekend.
Also getting tagged with 10-spot grid penalties today are Oriol Servia (qualified 20th) and Simona de Silvestro (qualified 23rd).
Here’s how the grid looks for this afternoon’s 75-lapper around Edmonton’s City Center Airport:
10-Dario Franchitti, Ganassi/Honda
6-Ryan Briscoe, Penske/Chevrolet
15-Takuma Sato, RLL/Honda
98-Alex Tagliani, Herta/Honda
3-Helio Castroneves, Penske/Chevrolet
77-Simon Pagenaud, SHM/Honda (rookie)
8-Rubens Barrichello, KVRT/Chevrolet
38-Graham Rahal, Ganassi/Honda
27-James Hinchcliffe, Andretti/Chevrolet
18-Justin Wilson, Coyne/Honda
28-Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti/Chevrolet
7-Sebastien Bourdais, Dragon/Chevrolet
67-Josef Newgarden, SFHR/Honda
19-James Jakes, Coyne/Honda
26-Marco Andretti, Andretti/Chevrolet
5-E.J. Viso, KVRT/Chevrolet
12-Will Power, Penske/Chevrolet
9-Scott Dixon, Ganassi/Honda
83-Charlie Kimball, Ganassi/Honda
4-J.R. Hildebrand, Panther/Chevrolet
11-Tony Kanaan, KVRT/Chevrolet
20-Ed Carpenter, ECR/Chevrolet
14-Mike Conway, Foyt/Honda
22-Oriol Servia, Panther+DRR/Chevrolet
78-Simona de Silvestro, HVM/Lotus