Race Preview: Watkins Glen
July 5, 2007 | 4:30 P.M. EST
History: The course, which was used by the IndyCar Series for the first time in 2005, has been home to major NASCAR and road racing events, and one of the nation's premier vintage events, the Zippo U.S. Vintage Grand Prix.
Track Length: 3.37-mile road course
Race Distance: 60 laps/204 miles
Number of Turns: 11 (7 right, 4 left)
Poster Awards: More than $1 million
Number of IRL Races Hosted: 2
2006 Polesitter: Helio Castroneves (based on practice times)
2006 Podium: Scott Dixon (winner), Vitor Meira (2nd), Ryan Briscoe (3rd)
Championship Standings: Click here
What happened in 2006?
Scott Dixon remained clear of trouble to win the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix for the second consecutive year at Watkins Glen International. The 2003 IndyCar Series champion became the first repeat winner in five IndyCar Series road/street races over the past 14 months.
The Watkins Glen Grand Prix is the eighth non-oval event in IndyCar Series history. Previous road and street course winners in the IndyCar Series are: Dan Wheldon (St. Petersburg, 2005), Tony Kanaan (Infineon, 2005), Scott Dixon (Watkins Glen, 2005, 2006), Helio Castroneves (St. Petersburg, 2006, 2007) and Marco Andretti (Infineon, 2006).
Franchitti Looking to Tie Record
Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti leads the IndyCar Series point standings for the first time in his career and comes into Watkins Glen chasing the record that Dan Wheldon and Kenny Brack share for consecutive victories. Brack won three-straight races in his championship-winning season in 1999, while Wheldon repeated the feat in 2005. Franchitti is regarded as one of the top road course racers in the series, though he has yet to win an IndyCar Series event on a road or street course.
Unique Qualifying Format in Use
In 2005, the Indy Racing League introduced a unique road/street course qualifying procedure in which the race for the pole began when the cars hit the track. All cars participated in the initial practice session of race weekend, with the times determining the two groups that will be used in the remaining pre-qualifying practice session. Friday's combined practice times determine the qualifying order, with the driver posting the fastest time having the option of driving first or last in single-lap qualifying. At the conclusion of single-lap qualifying the fastest six cars will participate in a 10-minute, European-style session to determine the first three rows.
What they are Saying
"I like going to Watkins Glen. It's a very unique road course with some very distinct sections and a lot of elevation change, so it's a challenge to drive, which I like. It's our first true road course event of the year, so I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do with the Motorola car."
--Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 7 Motorola Dallara-Honda for Andretti Green Racing
"It’s great to get back to a road course. Hopefully we can improve on what we did at St. Petersburg and the Mid-Ohio test. We have a good baseline set-up so that will speed up the fine-tuning we have to do for the Glen…I’m looking forward to racing there. I did the suitability test with Helio Castroneves to see what was needed for the Indy cars to run there and then I did the two-day open test but I never raced there. It’s a fast course. It’s rare to find a modern day road course with such fast corners. It gives us a fresh challenge. We’re going back to the old days. With the increase in speed of the race cars, now most tracks make the corners slower to make the tracks safer for the drivers. But the Glen kept the fast corners and improved the safety of the track."
--Darren Manning, driver of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara-Honda for AJ Foyt Racing
"I’m looking forward to going to Watkins Glen for my second road course ever! I’m sure there will be a lot to learn but I’m looking forward to the challenges that will be presented. I’ve never even been to Watkins Glen so it should be interesting. Testing or not, this is the first go around for me. All-in-all, I’m looking forward to the challenges The Glen will present with the course and the weather we are expecting."
--Sarah Fisher, driver of the No. 5 AAMCO Transmissions Dallara-Honda for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
"I’m excited to get back on a road course and especially Watkins Glen because we were so good here last year. This was the race that really got our season going in the right direction and hopefully that can be the case this year too. We’ve had a little bad luck the last few races but we’ve still managed Top Ten results, so that is good for us. But we’re all in this to win races and that is our goal this weekend."
--Vitor Meira, driver of the No. 4 Delphi Dallara-Honda for Panther Racing
"We're over halfway through the 2007 IndyCar Series season, and we've made it to the first of two natural terrain road courses this year. As a tire supplier, Firestone Racing loves the diversity of tracks that the IndyCar Series offers, so it will be nice to stretch our legs on this three-plus mile track. Last year's race was marked by cool temperatures and intermittent rain, so drivers' choice between slick and wet-condition tires played a big role in the outcome of the race. With weather expected to be pleasant this weekend, the Firehawks' role will likely be a bit different. But regardless of the circumstances, Firestone Racing will be prepared to provide drivers with the right tires for the challenge ahead."
--Al Speyer, Executive Director for Firestone Racing
Schedule of Events
Friday, July 6
- Practice 1: 10:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
- Practice 2: 3:30 - 4:35 p.m. (ET)
Saturday, July 7
- Practice 3: 9:45 - 10:50 a.m.
- Qualifying: 1:15 p.m. (ET)
Sunday, July 8
- Race: 3:30 p.m. (ET)