IRL Notes: Power In, Duno In Trouble

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 25 2010

Milka Duno's career has been full of challenges. Now she would take on one more. (Photo courtesy of the IndyCar Series)

Points-leader Will Power led a Team Penske front-row sweep during qualifications Saturday for the Honda Indy Edmonton, as IZOD IndyCar Series officials took the virtually unprecedented step of placing Milka Duno on probation for being a moving chicane.

Power, the defending event champion, earned his sixth pole of the season via a lap of 1:00.7126/116.991 mph during the Firestone Fast Six final portion of qualifications around the 1.973-mile, 14-turn City Centre Airport Circuit.

Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Dallara/Honda, edged teammate Helio Castroneves by just 0.0765-seconds. Power secured his fifth pole on road/street courses, his second consecutive pole at Edmonton and third overall at City Centre Airport. It also was the ninth pole this season for Team Penske, and the organization’s third straight pole in the Canadian city.

“It’s great to have the Verizon car on the pole,” said Power, who is seeking a record-tying third consecutive race win Sunday. “We started out in a tough group and we had to use our red tires (soft compound Firestone Firehawks) to get through. The car was good on used red tires in the second round, too.

“I knew Helio was very close to our time, so I had to give it everything I had in the final round. It was a good battle (with Castroneves) – we’ve been pushing each other all weekend long. I think track position will be very important in the race, so it’s great to be starting up front. We’ll do our best to get another win on Sunday.”

Castroneves’ top lap of 1:00.7891/116.843 mph was just short of pole, although the Brazilian has started no worse than third in three events in Edmonton.

“It was definitely a tough qualifying,” said Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Dallara/Honda. “Will certainly put a good lap up there and we knew it would be tough to beat. We saved our red tires and we went for it in the last round. We put up a strong lap that was close, but unfortunately the car was really loose. Now, we’ve got to keep it going and have a good race. We’ve had some tough results here lately. We need to score some good points (Sunday).”

Meanwhile, Duno’s life at the end of the 25-car grid got more complicated when the sanctioning body placed the 38-year-old native of Venezuela on probation through Dec. 31, 2010 for not consistently meeting minimal performance standards. Duno, driver of the No. 18 CITGO Dallara/Honda fielded by Dale Coyne Racing, did not record a time or speed during Saturday’s session.

Duno’s probation requires immediate and substantial improvement to her driving during the remaining seven events on the 2010 schedule. “Substantial improvement” is defined as consistently meeting the performance standards set by the league on a particular circuit. On road and street courses this is measured in terms of time (107 percent of lead car), and on ovals it is measured in terms of speed (10 mph of the lead car). In addition to time and speed, other requirements include car control/placement and interaction with other cars on-track.

If the improvement conditions are not met, the IRL may impose other penalties at its discretion.

Here is the official explanation: Pursuant to Rule 9.3 (C): The Senior Official may place a Member on probation. Probation is a state of limitation upon a Member’s privileges usually following an act or omission occurring before or during membership which calls into question the Member’s willingness or ability to abide by standards required for membership.

The purpose of probation is to establish a process to allow a Member to prove, by the Member’s conduct, that the standards of membership are understood and will be honored at all times. During probation, a Member is under heightened scrutiny and a Member can be required to abide by specific standards of conduct which are more stringent than those which are otherwise applicable. If a Member violates probation, the Member is subject to a more severe penalty. The duration and condition of the probation are within the discretion of the Officials.

Duno will have the opportunity to contest the penalty, pursuant to the IZOD IndyCar Series Rule Book.

Back at the top, Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti will share Row 2. Dixon, 2008 race-winner in Edmonton, posted a lap of 1:01.2395/115.984 mph in the No. 9 Dallara/Honda. Dixon earned his 43rd consecutive top-10 start, further extending the series record.

Franchitti, the reigning series champion, rang up a lap of 1:01.2481/115.968 mph in the No. 10 Dallara/Honda. Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe (1:01.3799/115.719 mph) and E.J. Viso _ making his first appearance in the Firestone Fast Six this season in the No. 8 PDVSA KV Racing Technology car (1:01.6122/115.282 mph) _ occupy Row 3. Viso’s previous best start in 2010 was ninth on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

Rookie Simona de Silvestro will start a season-high seventh in the No. 78 Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing entry, joined by Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay in Row 4 in the No. 37 IZOD Dallara/Honda. De Silvestro missed the Firestone Fast Six by 0.146-seconds. Her previous best start was 11th in the season-opener at Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“Starting seventh with some of the big guys in front of us is something pretty special,” de Silvestro said. “We put two sets of reds on in the first session. I think if we would have had a fresh set of reds in the second session we would have been a bit quicker. But the whole team at HVM can be really happy. They’ve worked really hard all weekend, and now we just have to try to move forward and I think it could be a good race for us. If we can duplicate what we did in Toronto _ moving forward in the race _ I think with this starting position it’s going to be good.”

Raphael Matos, driver of the No. 2 Hewlett-Packard Dallara/Honda entered by De Ferran Dragon Racing, will start a season-best eighth. His previous best was 11th at both Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and the Streets of Toronto. And Tomas Scheckter, subbing for the injured Mike Conway in the No. 24 MonaVie Dallara/Honda fielded by Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, will start 12th. It is Scheckter’s best qualifying effort of the season.

Power, a four-time winner this season, began the weekend with a 42-point lead over Franchitti. Power led 90 of 95 laps at Edmonton last summer en route to his first IndyCar win and first victory with Team Penske.

Power is poised to become the fourth driver in series history to win three races in a row _ a very short list featuring Dixon (2007), Dan Wheldon (2005) and Kenny Brack (1998). Power won at Sao Paulo and St. Pete to kick off the season and more recently has gone back-to-back at Watkins Glen and Toronto.

Live coverage of Sunday’s 95-lap race will begin at 5 p.m. (EDT) in High-Definition on VERSUS. The race also will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM Channel 145 and Sirius Channel 212.

Qualifying results Saturday for the Honda Indy Edmonton IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 1.973-mile Edmonton City Centre Airport Circuit, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis/engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (12) Will Power, Dallara/Honda, 1:00.7126 (116.991)

2. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara/Honda, 1:00.7891 (116.843)

3. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara/Honda, 1:01.2395 (115.984)

4. (10) Dario Franchitti, Dallara/Honda, 1:01.2481 (115.968)

5. (6) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara/Honda, 1:01.3799 (115.719)

6. (8) E.J. Viso, Dallara/Honda, 1:01.6122 (115.282)

7. (78) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara/Honda, 1:01.5438 (115.410)

8. (37) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara/Honda, 1:01.5596 (115.381)

9. (22) Justin Wilson, Dallara/Honda, 1:01.5887 (115.326)

10. (2) Raphael Matos, Dallara/Honda, 1:01.7015 (115.116)

11. (06) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara/Honda, 1:02.1935 (114.205)

12. (24) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara/Honda, 1:02.8751 (112.967)

13. (5) Takuma Sato, Dallara/Honda, 1:01.9181 (114.713)

14. (32) Mario Moraes, Dallara/Honda, 1:02.1324 (114.317)

15. (15) Paul Tracy, Dallara/Honda, 1:02.3264 (113.961)

16. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara/Honda, 1:02.1465 (114.291)

17. (34) Mario Romancini, Dallara/Honda, 1:02.4191 (113.792)

18. (19) Alex Lloyd, Dallara/Honda, 1:02.2203 (114.156)

19. (77) Alex Tagliani, Dallara/Honda, 1:02.5240 (113.601)

20. (36) Bertrand Baguette, Dallara/Honda, 1:02.5193 (113.610)

21. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara/Honda, 1:02.5795 (113.500)

22. (4) Dan Wheldon, Dallara/Honda, 1:02.7397 (113.211)

23. (14) Vitor Meira, Dallara/Honda, 1:02.7511 (113.190)

24. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara/Honda, No Time (No Speed)

25. (18) Milka Duno, Dallara/Honda, No Time (No Speed)

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 25 2010
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