So far, so good. It's nice to get to an event where all four KV Racing cars roll off the truck with pretty good setups on them. So now we're able to sit and think how to fine-tune the car on Saturday, rather than scratching our heads saying, “Er…where the hell are we at here?” The field is too competitive to be playing catch-up in any of the sessions, and the times are always going to be extra-tight on a circuit that's only about a minute long.
As usual, a lot of us let a lot of time pass by before going out on track this morning; everyone was assuming the track would be pretty green, not giving us a lot of grip. Milka went out and she was spinning all over the place and everyone assumed it must be really bad, but once I went out there, I was pleasantly surprised, to be honest. The grip level wasn't too bad.
We worked hard on the No. 15 Honda Canada/Make A Wish car through the session, and I managed to put two or three good clear laps together, all within a tenth and we wound up sixth. Pretty good. I think the only non-Penske/Ganassi car quicker than us was Justin's Dreyer & Reinbold car.
So come the afternoon session we worked some more on the balance of the car. I gave myself a small flat spot on a front tire which didn't help its front-end grip, but we came in and made some changes to the car – quite a few – and one of them, toward the end of the session, took a lot more time than we expected. So that kinda screwed up our run plan a bit. We wanted to get one more run to try that change on used tires and then go to sticker tires, but there'd been quite a few yellows, so everyone decided that this was the time to go.
There was a lot of traffic out there and I never did get a solid lap in: it was OK, but the next one was quicker until I caught up with Raphael Matos who was pissing around trying to make a gap from Mario Moraes, so he was backing up toward me. You kinda have to suck those things up though, because I guess there'll always be a fair bit of that going on when you've got 20-something cars on a 1-minute track. Still, the lap before had gotten us into ninth so we're reasonably close in genuine pace to most of the quick guys, although obviously Will Power seems to be on his own freakin' planet out there.
There's still stuff for us to do though. I think I'm pretty fast through the Turn 2-3-4-5 sequence, but one spot I'm losing time is the very last corner. The rear feels quite nervous on entry while I'm braking, so I can't brake any later and I also can't release the brake any sooner to let it roll in a little faster because I don't have the grip level to do it right. So we're working on that. On the infield sector, the car's quite good.
I think I'm quite good here, too. Edmonton is where I turned things around in 2006 and outqualified AJ Allmendinger, my teammate. In '07, when the Forsythe team was still struggling with the Panoz chassis, I came through the field and finished in the top six. In '08 I got my fat ass off the couch for a one-off and drove an Indy car
for the first time on a non-oval and finished fourth for Derrick Walker. And last year I was top of the second-class behind the Penske and Ganassi boys. So I have good memories of this place…But I'll be honest with you, I've never really been able to explain to anyone why airport circuits like this one and Cleveland suited me. Typically I do better at twisty street tracks, but this is obviously a fast, high-grip track more like a road course. So if you can explain why I go well here, I'm guessing you're one of my old race engineers.
My friends from Motegi Racing are here again this weekend, flying in tonight, so they've now been to three IZOD IndyCar Series races on the bounce. I think they're really getting into it, and can see business-to-business opportunities. I'm thinking and hoping that's a good sign for them, for me and for the series.
We're also pushing the Make A Wish deal that did well in Toronto, thanks to Honda Canada and the Toronto Blue Jays. So if you're in the Edmonton area, come and sign the firesuit I'll be racing in on Sunday. As usual my personal sponsors deserve a thank you too - Kicker Car Audio, CEC, AlpineStars, Oakley and Monster.
Tomorrow morning's practice is crucial to us to make the same kind of steps that the big dogs are making, and to keep this new positive momentum rolling. We're happy at KV tonight, but we're not content or complacent. We know what needs to be done.
And, trust me, we need to do everything A1 perfect to get into the Q2 segment tomorrow. I can't freakin' believe how the draw has fallen this week for the Q1 session, but get a load of this: I've got to get into the Top Six in the same group as all three Penskes, Dario Franchitti, Justin Wilson, Ryan Hunter-Reay, my teammates Takuma Sato and Mario Moraes, and Marco Andretti who went well today. But we'll give it our best shot, and if it fails, at least we know this is the sort of track we can passes and make things happen on Sunday.
Anyway, I'll get back to you tomorrow. Should be an interesting but pretty demanding day.
Also, check out my latest TV project with Tanner Foust, SPEED's Battle of the Supercars promo here.