HPD Blog

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Wilson Scores Upset Win at Watkins Glen

Camping World GP at The Glen
Race Report
Circuit: Watkins Glen International Raceway (3.37-mile road course) Watkins Glen, NY
2008 Winner: Ryan Hunter-Reay (Rahal Letterman Racing Honda) 92.964 mph average
Weather: Sunny, mild, 74 degrees F

Driving for one of the smallest teams in the IndyCar Series field, Justin Wilson and his Dale Coyne Racing team defeated the powerhouse Penske and Chip Ganassi organizations Sunday at Watkins Glen International Raceway, winning the Camping World GP at The Glen.

Starting on the outside of the front row in second, Wilson stalked pole qualifier Ryan Briscoe in the opening laps, then made his move in the "Bus Stop" chicane to take the lead for the first time on Lap 4. Wilson held on to his advantage through the first round of pit stops, gettting a break when the first full-course caution flag of the day waved on Lap 20, just as Briscoe was preparing to make his initial stop.

That dropped Briscoe -- and several other contenders -- back to mid-field, and moved rookie Mike Conway and Hideki Mutoh up to second and third, respectively, until the final third of the race. Wilson controlled the pace for the rest of the 60-lap event, surrendering the lead only briefly during the final round of pit stops, and setting his fastest race lap on Lap 58 as he opened up a victory margin of nearly five seconds at the checkers.

The 21 drivers in this weekend's field ran a total of 7,602.7 miles in practice, qualifying and racing without a single engine-related failure for the Honda HI9R Indy V-8.

The victory for Wilson marked the first open-wheel win for Dale Coyne Racing in 25 years and in CART, Champ Car and IndyCar competition. It also was the first win for a team other than Ganassi or Penske since the 2008 Detroit Grand Prix, also won by Wilson while driving for the Newman Haas Lanigan team.

Behind the lead trio, a variety of tough battles throughout the field resulted in several instances of contact and spins. Mutoh, Dario Franchitti, Marco Andretti, E.J. Viso, Paul Tracy and rookie Richard Antinucci were all eliminated or delayed by incidents.

The final 20 laps were highlighted by a battle between Briscoe and Dixon for second; and Andretti catching and passing Conway on the final lap to claim fifth. Still, sixth for series rookie Conway matches his best IndyCar finish and the best result of the 2009 season for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

Today's race was the third of four consecutive race weekends on the 2009 IndyCar Series schedule. Next week, the series moves to Canada for the July 12 Honda Indy Toronto.

Justin Wilson (#18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda) Started 2nd, finished 1st, 1st win of 2009, 2nd career IndyCar victory: "To get Dale's [Coyne] first win in 25 years is the most important victory of my career. I was grinning from ear-to-ear on that last lap. We've worked all year to improve on the road courses, and to dominate like this is fantastic. Bill [Pappas, team engineer] called a great race. He was on the radio to me all race long, telling me what to do. We came close at St. Petersburg [where he led the season-opening race] but I was 'too nice' on the last restart and gave away the win. That wasn't going to happen today and here we are in victory lane."

Ryan Briscoe (#6 Team Penske Honda) Started 1st, finished 2nd: "It definitely was an exciting race. We were caught out by that early yellow and that left us back in the pack. I think we definitely had the speed [to win] today, but the timing of our first [pit] stop made it difficult. But it was great to be able to fight our way back up to second and hold off [Scott] Dixon at the end. Before the last yellow, I even thought we might have something for Justin [Wilson], but he was just too quick after the last restart."

Roger Griffiths (Race Team Manager, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "Congratulations to Justin Wilson and the entire Dale Coyne Racing team. It certainly pumps some life into the series to see a small but talented team pull off the victory today. Thanks to all our associates at Honda Performance Development and our technical partner Ilmor for another perfect weekend for the Honda Indy V-8. Now, it's on to the streets of Toronto for our fourth consecutive race weekend."

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