"You do learn more from inside your car on the first lap," he said.

And as they take those practice laps, they'll be memorizing the course — where the asphalt changes to concrete and back, where the manhole covers are, where train tracks cross the streets, where the flaggers will be giving them course signals, where to start braking and what line to follow through curves.

It seems to be information overload.

But Power hopes the course will be hard. The harder it is, the better it will be for him, one of the best street racers in the sport.

A few weeks ago, four-time Indianapolis500 winner A.J.Foyt, who fields a car for driver Vitor Meira, said he wishes the IndyCar Series would go back to the old days when teams used to show up at the track, unload their cars, take a few practice laps and race.

"I think if they did that," Foyt said, "You'd see a whole different group of drivers at the top."

Power doesn't doubt it. But he thinks he would be one of the current group still sitting pretty.

"Rick Mears always said if the series was run with cars that only had three wheels on them, the best drivers and teams would work it out," Power said. "Baltimore is a street course. I really expect to be at the very front. If not, I'll be very disappointed."

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com



Qualifying procedures



Qualifying for IndyCar Series street and road races isn't as simple as driving a few laps and using the best as a qualifying time. Now, it's like a race within a mini-timed race.

The field is divided in half. A total of 13 cars go out in two separate 15-minute segments, with the six cars posting the best single lap times advancing to the second round.

The remaining 14 cars fill positions 13 and back. The second round is one 10-minute session of 12 cars. The six fastest in the segment advance to the third segment, while the other six fill positions 7 through 12.

The third and final segment, also 10 minutes, determines the pole-sitter and the 2 through 6 spots, based on which cars turn the single-fastest laps.

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