Rain doesn’t dampen Edmonton Indy
Published Saturday, July 21, 2012 5:54PM MDT
Last Updated Sunday, July 22, 2012 9:52AM MDT
Thousands of Edmontonians filled the grandstands for the Edmonton Indy Saturday, and didn’t let stormy afternoon weather spoil the mood.
It was the first Indy for Xander Duff, whose dad brought him out to experience the race.
“Just come out here and enjoy the experience,” said Benjamin Duff.
“The atmosphere and being able to talk to everybody is unparalleled really.”
Many first-time Indy goers say nothing compares to having trackside seats.
“I love the sound, the people watching, all of it,” said first-time Indy attendee Tarra Lane.
“I like the sound of the engines and the thrill and excitement of the race,” said Christina Hillier, a new race fan.
The excitement was shared with veteran Indy race fans as well.
“Sometimes when you walk around you can actually see the drivers and it’s kind of neat to see them go by on bikes,” said Barb Sollinger.
“If you walk around, you get more than if you just sit in the stands.
There’s lots of action that took place off the track with vendors, race tracks for kids, an area that gives visitors a chance to get a close look at race cars and other activities.
Many fans said Saturday’s wet weather just made the action on the track more intense.
“It’s always fun to see qualifying with a bit of rain,” said race fan Jeff Stevens.
“There are lots of spinning out and all kinds of excitement on the track.”
Meanwhile Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified first on Saturday for the Indy, but it’s Dario Franchitti who will start on pole Sunday.
Hunter-Reay, the IndyCar series leader, completed the 2.2-mile, 13-turn circuit in the fastest time of one minute 17.23 seconds in the final qualifying session at the City Centre Airport.
He will start 11th, however, because his Andretti team is serving a 10-spot grid penalty for an unapproved engine change after the Toronto Indy two weeks ago.
That bumps up Franchitti, who finished second in qualifying, and puts third-place finisher Ryan Briscoe beside him on the front row for the start of the 75-lap race.
Hunter-Reay is leading the IndyCar series with 336 points -- the first American in front since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006 -- and is also going for his fourth win in a row.
The qualifying winner was determined in three elimination sessions among the 25 drivers, with the slowest drivers in each session dropping off until a race-off among the final six.
The weather tested the drivers. The first round was on a dry track, followed by a rain-soaked track, followed by a drying track.
Teams were forced to decide whether to run on rain tires or the faster softer red ones and whether to go on track early or late to avoid the rain.
With files from Amanda Anderson and The Canadian Press