Watkins Glen: Sunday thoughts

IndyCar commentary — By on July 4, 2010 7:35 pm

(Originally posted by Steph to Planet-IRL.com.)

Okay, it’s a long drive home, and Paul and I will get into more detail in our podcast later this week. So, here’s Sunday at Watkins Glen International, the rapid-fire version.

Firestone Indy Lights

– It was James Hinchcliffe’s race to lose, and unfortunately for him and Team Moore Racing, he did just that. “There was one mistake all weekend,” he said in the post-race press conference, “and it was me in Turn 1 that got JK (Vernay) that run” that led to JK’s third win of the season.

– The only contact was between Pippa Mann and Dan Clarke on the second lap when Pippa tagged Speedy Dan from behind in Turn 9. Pippa felt that she had the line and that Dan didn’t give her enough room; Dan felt that he gave her appropriate space but that she drifted into his line and “just hit (him).” Tough break for both in an argument that may never reach a resolution.

– Stefan Wilson saw an early end to a promising day when his engine blew on lap 14. (The resulting oil slick and the quick-dry residue was later identified as the reason that Hinch bobbled in Turn 1 and that JK was able to get by.)

– JK Vernay’s win extends his lead in the championship; Hinch’s second-place finish moved him into second in the points. Sebastian Saavedra, who finished third, moved up to third in the season standings. Charlie Kimball came into this race second in the points but had a fuel pressure problem on the warm-up lap and stalled in Turn 7. He restarted four laps down, and his 11th place finish saw him drop to fifth in the points.

– The crowd for the FIL race was pretty good. The Turn 1 grandstand was nearly full; the others I could see from the end of pit lane were less so, but there was a respectable number of spectators who stuck it out in the day’s heat.

IZOD IndyCar Series

– Will Power and the rest of the Penske team created a pile of exceptional statistics this weekend, the most significant being that the Penske jinx of never having won here in the IZOD IndyCar Series era has finally been broken. (In other stats: Will is the only driver to win this event from pole and the only multi-time winner this season; Team Penske extended their streak to six poles in a row at The Glen, won their 40th race of the IZOD IndyCar Series (a Series record), and got their first 1-2 finish of the year.)

– If you’re not a Penske fan, though, the day was somewhat uneventful — and it was a disappointing one for a number of players who would ordinarily be expected to do better at a track like this. Paul Tracy, Takuma Sato, Alex Tagliani, and Tony Kanaan all finished outside the top 10.

– The only two full-course cautions of the day: Dan Wheldon spun without contact on lap 17 (he finished the race sixth, which is a surprising result for him and Panther Racing); Simona de Silvestro bobbled and made contact in Turn 8 on lap 40, putting a dent in an otherwise promising season.

– Speaking of promising runs, Adam Carroll was running very strongly until a tire change error sent him backward. His 16th place finish belies a very strong debut weekend.

– The woes with Milka continue. Dario had very harsh words for her in the post-race press conference. He blamed her for slowing him up on a restart and letting Rafa Matos get past. (He later regained the position.) “Nothing she does surprises me at this point,” he quipped in the post-race press conference. He should join Ryan Hunter-Reay’s support group — RHR was jokingly introduced as the President and Treasurer of the Milka Duno Fan Club at the IZOD announcement earlier today after his run-ins with her earlier in the weekend.

– The crowd was a bit more sparse for the main event than I would have expected in comparison to that from earlier today. The heat and sun may have driven many fans into the shaded areas, though — it was hard to tell from my vantage point. But attendance was not strong this weekend, no matter how you try to spin it.

Notes and Quotes

– Ryan Hunter-Reay and IZOD announced today that Ryan will finish out the season with Andretti Autosport under the IZOD banner. A new initiative was also announced in the creation of RacingforCancer.org, the basis of which was to honor Ryan’s mother, who he lost to cancer in November of last year.

– Randy Bernard had some interesting things to say about the 2011 schedule. He says that one event will need to be cut but that he’s not opposed to an 18-race schedule provided all of those events are strong. He doesn’t like running events on long weekends because corporate supporters tend not to want to entertain at the races on those dates. When asked, he said flat-out that the Series will not end its 2011 season at Homestead and that he’s hoping to be in Vegas. He’s been in talks with Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Bruton Smith, CEO of SMI (which owns LVMS) as well as with the City of Las Vegas.

– One more note from RB, this time on the engine manufacturers: he says that any that want to participate in 2012 will need to make that decision by October 2nd.

All right, back to Canada for me — and for the IZOD IndyCar Series, which will race in my home town in two weeks. Much more to come on that — follow it all here at Planet-IRL.com.

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