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Dixon heads Sunday morning warm-up

22 July 2012

Beautiful sunny and dry conditions greeted the drivers for a straightforward half hour Sunday morning warm-up practice, ahead of this afternoon's Edmonton Indy.

The session ran without any stoppages, although there was one moment when Helio Castroneves appeared to give Ed Carpenter a wake-up bump for getting underfoot in the closing minutes that raised eyebrows and won him a drive-thru rap on the knuckles from race control; and Ryan Briscoe had a big lock-up while trying to get past Simona de Silvestro through turn 1 late in the session..

Few cars appeared to be really pushing to the limit during the 30 minute track opportunity and were generally treating the session as a shakedown lap to check for race worthiness rather than logging fast times.

Birthday boy Scott Dixon was one exception to the rule as he went fastest, ending up the only man to duck under the 1:17s mark with a lap of 1:16.9006s over half a second clear of Rubens Barrichello and Mike Conway.

Will Power pushed early and had a few run-offs during the session as a result, but without setting a strong lap time: he finished down in 20th on the timesheets with a lap of 1:18.5801s - as he bedded in the #12's new engine that had been fitted overnight following Saturday's qualifying session. That was after Penske opted to make the change in order to take advantage of the newest specification Chevrolet unit for the race.

As a result, Power will start from 17th place on the grid, alongside Scott Dixon who takes a similar grid hit after an engine change post-Toronto. Power's main rival for the 2012, Ryan Hunter-Reay, also has a grid penalty and will start from 11th after winning pole position on Saturday.

Oriol Servia was another driver added to the list of those on the penalty step for the start of the Edmonton race for a new engine, which will likely drop him to the back row of the grid alongside Simona de Silvestro who was the final one of the five drivers to be demoted on the grid. Servia was another driver looking to bed in his engine, even if it meant being a regular visitor through the run-off sections of the track in the process.

With so many cars out of their natural starting positions thanks to penalties and getting caught out in the rain-hit qualifying session, it should be an entertaining time watching drivers fighting their way back through the field during the 75 laps of the 2.24-mile, 13-turn temporary circuit constructed on the runways at Edmonton City Center Airport.

The corners that presented the most problems for the drivers during the practice sessions should also give them the most opportunities to pounce on the mistakes of others for overtaking chances in the race itself.

"The big braking zones," said Scott Dixon when asked where he was looking to make up the most ground in the race from his 18th position grid spot. "It seems to be that turns 1 and 5 are definitely more obvious ... Turn 1 is the biggest because it's at the end of the longest straight and it's the widest."

Next up is turn 5: “It's the next longest straight and a hairpin turn,” Dixon explained. “I got in trouble there. People get brave because it's a big braking zone," he said, adding that turn 13 was also another place to watch out for: "I think that turn 13 in the last corner, because it comes back on itself, if the guy even comes back he'll still have a decent run."

Wilson agreed about the importance of the "very difficult" turn 1 in the race. "You need to be late on the brakes and good on the exit because there is another long straight right after it so that one is tough.

“Turn 5 is so, so tight,” he added. "One of the tightest corners we race on. You have a big brake zone in a really tight corner. Everyone thinks they can out-brake everyone there but when a guy pulls out and starts out-braking and the car ahead is 90 degrees and they T-bone. That is how tight the corner is."

As for Dixon's Ganassi team mate, Dario Franchitti was hoping for a change of luck when it came to his race performance after inheriting pole position following Hunter-Reay's grid penalty.

"It's good that we start in the front row, the Target car is good again this weekend," he said. "It'd be nice to have a decent race because we've had some good qualifying performances but our races .. We've had incidents and all kinds of crazy stuff happening, so it'd be nice to have a day free of incidents and try to have a good result."

Sunday's Edmonton Indy race gets underway at 12:45pm local time (7.45pm BST) and is scheduled to be shown live in the UK on Sky Sports.

Full Sunday morning warm-up times and official starting grid available.


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