Indy car racing returned to Watkins Glen International this weekend, and Chevy promptly planted their flag on the rolling hills of the infield. The manufacturer occupied the top 4 spots in the morning practice and the top 5 spots in the 2-hour afternoon session.
Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Juan Pablo Montoya from Team Penske, plus Tony Kanaan from Chip Ganassi Racing and Sebastien Bourdais from KVSH, made up those two groups of quickest Chevys along with another CGR driver…
Leading the packs in both sessions, was their principal pilot, Scott Dixon. He took the No. 9 Target car to Victory Lane at Watkins Glen, 3 times in back-to-back-to-back years – 2005, 2006 and 2007. The 2016 season of the Verizon IndyCar Series has yielded one win for Dixon, at Phoenix International Raceway in April. He also has one pole this year, earned on the streets of Toronto.
With the news coming earlier this season that Target would not be returning as an IndyCar sponsor in 2017, Dixon has his game face on and is looking to park it at The Glen for the fourth time in his career. His focus is not just on a win, but on slimming down the points differential between himself and the points leader, Team Penske driver Simon Pagenaud. He is currently running P6 in that race, trailing the Frenchman by 132 points.
It’s worth noting that any drivers with a deficit of 104 points or more behind the leader, after this weekend’s contest, will be disqualified from the Championship run. As we know, the next race will be the season finale at Sonoma Raceway. Hard to believe we are already a few breaths away from the end of another IndyCar year – but we are sure to stay consistent with yet another incredible battle to the very end.
Dixon achieved his fastest time today in the afternoon session, clocking a 1:22.8740 and becoming the only driver to run a lap under 1:23. After the practice, Dixon spoke about the entire field annihilating the current track record, set by Ryan Briscoe in 2009:
“…the times have dropped almost six seconds. I think we’ll see it well over six seconds by the time we get to the red tires and qualifying. I think weather conditions are playing a big part, too.”
The weather this weekend is indeed, spectacular. Upper 70s at the peak of the day and 60s hugging you at sunrise at sunset. Optimal for racing. And life. In this writer’s opinion.
The track has crazy levels of grip. That in combination with everything else is leading me to the assumption that tomorrow’s qualifying and Sunday’s race might be the peak of entertainment this season.
So, as I finish this piece while leaning against the railing at Seneca Lodge, waiting for my table and sipping libations from perhaps the greatest bar I’ve ever step foot it… I only have one question on my mind…
Why did we wait so long to come back here?
Verizon IndyCar Series track times for the IndyCar Grand Prix at the Glen at Watkins Glen International:
Friday, September 2nd:
Practice #1 – 11:00 – 11:45 a.m. ET
Practice #2 – 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. ET
Saturday, September 3rd:
Practice #3 – 11:00 – 11:45 a.m. ET
Qualifying: 3:00 – 4:15 p.m. ET
Sunday, September 4th:
Warm Up – 10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. ET
IndyCar Grand Prix at The Glen – 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
The race will be broadcast live on NBCSN.
Qualifying will be livestreamed. It will also be broadcast as a tape delay on NBCSN at 6:00 p.m. ET.
Practice sessions will be livestreamed.
All links to livestream and IndyCar radio coverage is available here.