WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- The team had to break out the grooved rain tires today for the first day of action at Watkins Glen International Raceway. Overcast skies turned into rain and dense fog during the morning hours, but the fog lifted just enough...
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- The team had to break out the grooved rain tires today for the first day of action at Watkins Glen International Raceway. Overcast skies turned into rain and dense fog during the morning hours, but the fog lifted just enough for the teams to take the soggy track shortly after 10 a.m.
Rains continued to linger during the morning practice session, which saw several yellows for fog and slide offs. The wet track conditions kept speeds well under the marks set at the team's two previous tests. However, the skies cleared during the afternoon practice session and the Red Bull Cheever Racing team didn't waste any time putting the racing slicks on the cars and sending Alex Barron and Patrick Carpentier out on the 3.37-mile road course.
Carpentier led the team today and turned in some of the quickest lap times in the field. During the rainy morning practice, he was third fastest. During the yellow-filled, dry second session, he wasn't able to get in as much work as he would have liked. However, he still managed to post a time of 1:34.4409 (128.461 mph), which put him eighth fastest.
"This is one of the nicest tracks I have ever had the chance to race on. It's a beautiful track. It's a joy to drive. It's a track that is flowing and fits these cars perfectly. Today wasn't too bad. I'm happy. The car was good this morning. We had the wrong gears for this afternoon and lost the better of half a second there. I forgot that the timing was at pit-in so on my in laps I was slowing down a lot. That happens sometimes. Tomorrow I know about it. I think we have a good car. I will be happy if we are in the top six tomorrow, and disappointed if we are not. If it is raining on Sunday, it's going to be a little bit of fun," Carpentier said.
Barron trailed his teammate during the two practice sessions, but still managed to turn some solid laps, which had him consistently in the middle of the speed charts. His best time of 1:35.8302 (126.599 mph) was 14th fastest on the day.
"On one hand, it was nice to run in the rain because we needed that experience, but at the same time, we weren't able to really build on the things we learned last week at the test. That kind of set us back. We also struggled today with track time because between the fog and the rain causing yellows, we really weren't able to stay out for too long. Every time we seemed to get the tires up to temperature to try to get a good lap time in, someone spun and brought out a yellow. It was a little frustrating, but we think we have a good handle on what we need to do for tomorrow to be strong during qualifying," Barron said.
The team will return to the track tomorrow for another practice session in the morning before qualifying in the afternoon. The race features the league's road course qualifying format where the six fastest cars making an attempt will return to the track for a 10-minute shootout to establish the first three rows. The Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix will be broadcast live on Sunday, Sept. 25 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC.