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IndyCar makes second trip to Canada

Edmonton, AB (Sports Network) - Series: IZOD IndyCar. Date: Sunday, July 24. Race: Edmonton Indy. Site: Edmonton City Centre Airport. Track: 2.556-mile, 13-turn temporary street/airport course. Start Time: 2:45 p.m. (et). Laps: 90. Miles: 230.4. 2010 Winner: Scott Dixon. Television: VERSUS. Radio: IMS Radio Network/SIRIUS XM Satellite.

Same location, different course.

This weekend's IZOD IndyCar Series race will be contested at the Edmonton City Centre Airport for the fourth consecutive year, but the course will be significantly different than it was in 2010.

Last November, IndyCar announced its intention not to return to Edmonton for the 2011 season after city officials and event promoter Octane Motorsports Event Inc. were unable to reach an agreement on the race course changes. However, the city and the promoter reached a settlement on providing upgrades, and IndyCar put Edmonton back on the schedule two months later.

Octane sought to retain one of the airport's runways, but the city moved all air traffic to that take-off and landing strip after closing a companion runway following last year's IndyCar race here.

IndyCar teams will spend time during Friday and Saturday's practice sessions getting familiar with the new 2.256-mile, 13-turn airport course.

"It's going to be a difficult thing for a driver, because there's no markers, and it's very difficult to pick out the braking points, the apexes of the corners," Dario Franchitti said. "The track is so wide, and there's no physical boundaries. When you're approaching from a half-mile away at 180 mph, you're trying to pick out this corner from a distance. It's pretty interesting."

Canadian Alex Tagliani drove on the course during a promotional tour here last week.

"You'll see crazy speed and amazing action," Tagliani said. "IndyCar really needs places like this for passing. It's going to absolutely be one of the best courses we'll have this season."

Franchitti, the two-time defending series champion, comes to Edmonton with a comfortable 55-point lead over Will Power, who has failed to finish the last two races due to wrecks. Power and Franchitti were tied in points after last month's race at Milwaukee.

"It's very tough to have two DNFs in a row," Power said. "All I can say is we'll keep working hard and hopefully come back strong at Edmonton."

Power won his first race in this series at Edmonton in 2009. He finished second here last year.

Franchitti has finished third and fifth in his two starts at this course. His Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Scott Dixon, won the inaugural race at Edmonton in 2008 and then claimed his second victory here last season.

The 2010 Edmonton race ended with its share of controversy and temper tantrums. Helio Castroneves was leading the event when he was black-flagged for blocking his Team Penske teammate Power just after a restart with three laps remaining. After failing to serve his drive-through penalty on pit lane, IndyCar officials penalized Castroneves 20 seconds and placed him at the tail end of the lead lap, which resulted in a 10th-place finish.

Furious with the decision, Castroneves confronted two race officials on pit road and made physical contact with one of them after the event had concluded. Days later, IndyCar slapped the Brazilian with a $60,000 fine and placed him on probation for the remainder of the season.

Twenty-six teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Edmonton Indy.

07/21 13:54:22 ET


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