Honda, Coyne Find Speed at Watkins Glen in Final Practice

On a weekend where Chevy has dominated every session of practice and the first 4 rows of the starting grid for the IndyCar Grand Prix of The Glen, Honda made quite a statement in Sunday morning practice. Rookie teammates RC Enerson and Conor Daly of Dale Coyne Racing ran the second and fourth fastest laps in final practice, while Graham Rahal of RLL Racing rounded out the Top 5.

Polesitter Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing took the top seed yet again and Josef Newgarden, who had a wreck in morning practice on Saturday, clocked the third quickest lap with the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka car for Ed Carpenter Racing.

41BK9735Enerson only has one other IndyCar start on his resume – the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last month, also with Dale Coyne. Enerson surprised everyone with how clean he ran, how fluid his pit stops were for his first attempt in “the big cars” and personally, I have to say that the combination of his youth and professionalism were refreshing and welcome. This kid has the potential for a big racing career, and I would love to see it happen right here in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

It’s actually kind of funny that Enerson and Dixon found themselves at the top of the boards, as they teamed up for a press conference during the Mid-Ohio weekend as well, playfully teasing one another about their age difference and experience. Hope to see more of this for Enerson in the paddock as the years progress.

Enerson’s teammate, Conor Daly already has that comfort and acknowledgement throughout the paddock, having been around the series for years and waiting for the opportunity to get in a seat full-time. That came this year with DCR in the No. 18 Honda and he’s had a respectable four Top 10 finishes with one of those a P2, at the first race on Belle Isle during the Detroit doubleheader weekend.

Rahal has had seven Top 5 finishes in 2016, one of which was a win in his most recent contest at the completion of the Firestone 600 race. He struggled with qualifying yesterday, no thanks to a penalty for interference with Hawksworth’s qualifying attempt, and he will start from P20 this afternoon.

I’m looking forward to maybe getting lucky and seeing more passing at the Glen today, than we are presently anticipating. I say this because even though I feel like Chevy might continue on their streak at the Glen and have a majority of the Top 10 finishing positions, I would much rather see this recent speed surge from Honda challenge the other half of the field and put on another nail-biter of a race. That desire is always with the condition of safety, of course.

My fear however, is this: if the passing doesn’t occur as often as we would prefer, we might end up with a follow-the-leader parade-esque situation with yellows being caused only by failed passing attempts or following suit with the incidents we have seen thus far, involving a single car and human error. A caution for any reason is going to produce thrilling restarts though, and I would be surprised if we get through this with less than 5 full-course cautions.

I don’t mean for that commentary to sound scattered, but we truly have no clue what to expect in live race mode here… particularly with the bar raised on speed and the whole realization that black is the new red at The Glen.

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.

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Photo by Bret Kelley