(WATKINS GLEN, NY) – Temperatures at Watkins Glen International have remained out of the ordinary – a windy 57 degrees on September 1st. The results of the afternoon practice session however, were a bit more predictable for the Verizon IndyCar Series than what we had this morning.
Scott Dixon was the fastest in Practice 2 and for the day overall, with a lap of 1:22.618 behind the wheel of the No. 9 NTT Data Ganassi Honda. As I wrote about earlier, this is a normal and expected outcome for Dixon at The Glen, who is within ten-hundredths of his qualifying lap record, set in 2016. He admitted that they still have some work to do on the red tires even though the delta is pretty minimal. His black tire laps were just as fast as Will Power’s red tire laps though, and that didn’t make Power too happy.
“Surprisingly, the tires come up really quickly… grippy right out of the box,” admitted Dixon, “I don’t know whether it’s just the natural grip that the new seal has? You’re not far off in your first or second time. You’re pretty close. So they come in real fast.”
Power came in P2 for the afternoon but you’d think he came in last, given his demeanor post-practice – quiet, serious, to-the-point, and nearly sullen. Maybe Ricky Bobby was right after all… “If you’re not first, you’re last!”
But given his desire to produce top-of-the-charts results, I can’t be too surprised. Heck, he said it himself: “I’m disappointed if I’m not quick at any track really. ” The No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevy crew will take what they learned today along with Power’s passion for being the best into tomorrow’s qualifying. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him grab another Verizon P1 with the No. 12 Penske Chevy, and bring his career total up to 51.
Both Dixon and Power like the high speed road course of Watkins Glen, but for different reasons.
“Expect the competition to be tough tomorrow,” stated Dixon, “The tires are always changing. Everything is always evolving. The basic setup that the team brings here works well with my driving style and definitely well with the track.
It’s a track that enables a lot of differences in strategy… you can save some fuel and maybe extend your window, jump someone in the pits. If you can trim out to a pretty significant level, it can aid you in the race with being able to pass people on the straights.
You want to start on the front row, if possible. We haven’t done that all the time, but last year was definitely much easier starting from the pole.”
Power had his own reasons for enjoying this Formula 1-esque road course:
“Very high commitment in this car in particular because of the downforce. Can be scary around this joint because of the speed you got to carry in some of those corners, like the last corner, the carrousel. The carrousel is basically wide open. But, it’s fun. Consistent grip.”
Drivers will have one more full practice session to get whatever additional data they can, prior to qualifying. That practice will run from 10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. tomorrow morning, Saturday, September 2nd. Qualifying starts at 3:00 p.m. Please note that everything will be livestreamed but NBCSN will air the qualifying at 7:00 p.m. as well.