IRL: Watkins Glen: Firestone race report

Dixon Claims Two in a Row at a Wild, Wet Watkins Glen Tires, fuel, and just plain keeping his nose clean were key factors for Scott Dixon as he claimed his second consecutive victory at Watkins Glen in a race that featured a wet beginning and...

Dixon Claims Two in a Row at a Wild, Wet Watkins Glen

Tires, fuel, and just plain keeping his nose clean were key factors for Scott Dixon as he claimed his second consecutive victory at Watkins Glen in a race that featured a wet beginning and end, with slick conditions throughout.

The race marked the first-ever IndyCar start in the rain, and the IRL mandated that all cars start out on the Firestone Firehawk rain tires. The track began to dry a few laps into the event, and it became a game of strategy as to the optimum time to pit for slicks. Vision Racing's Tomas Scheckter was the first to opt for slick Firehawks (lap 4), and he picked up 14 seconds on the leaders before they came in.

Once the drivers were on slicks, they had to keep the tire temperatures up as much as possible. Ambient temperatures hovered around a chilly 56 degrees Fahrenheit, and the track temperature averaged around 57 degrees F. Several drivers found their way off-course during the race due to the cold and slippery conditions. Rain started falling again as the laps wound down, and several teams opted to pit for Firestone rain tires. However, Dixon chose to stay out on the slicks and try to find the dry spots on the track. He held off Panther Racing's Vitor Meira and former Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Ryan Briscoe (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing) in the final laps, and he crossed the finish line 2.3311 seconds ahead.

* From Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone: "The tires were good. We didn't use many sets today; they were lasting long. I think we only used two sets of slicks. No problems - they were really consistent, and I just had to try to keep temperature in them."

* Firestone Tire Performance Summary: Firestone brought the highest-grip ("softest") street-course rain tire specification for this weekend. As expected, under the drying track conditions at the beginning of the race, teams started to pit as early as lap 4 to change to the dry tires. Firestone brought an updated version of its most durable road-course compound/construction slick tires to the Glen. The secret to getting the most out this dry tire today was to keep as much heat in it as possible under the chilly conditions.

* From Al Speyer, Executive Director, Firestone Racing: "Today's race presented every imaginable challenge for both the Firestone Firehawk tires and the IndyCar teams. We knew we brought our softest rain tire to this race, so when the track started to dry at the beginning of the race, we told teams they could only run 5-10 laps maximum before changing to slicks. With the variable conditions, the Firestone team had to work a little harder than usual, but it was well worth the effort as we gained valuable data about how both our wet and dry tires perform. It's a key reason we're in racing - to keep learning."

Race temperatures ranged from 58 to 56 degrees track and from 57 to 55 degrees ambient (F).

Race temperatures ranged from 14 to 13 degrees track and from 14 to 13 degrees ambient (C).

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Dixon , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing