Watkins Glen: Series race report

HUNTER-REAY CLAIMS FIRST INDYCAR SERIES VICTORY AT WATKINS GLEN WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Sunday, July 6, 2008 - Ryan Hunter-Reay claimed his first IndyCar Series victory, winning the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen by 2.4009 seconds...

HUNTER-REAY CLAIMS FIRST INDYCAR SERIES VICTORY AT WATKINS GLEN

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Sunday, July 6, 2008 - Ryan Hunter-Reay claimed his first IndyCar Series victory, winning the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen by 2.4009 seconds over Darren Manning.

In a race where favorites Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske looked like the drivers to beat, the underdogs from Rahal Letterman Racing and A.J. Foyt Racing prevailed.

Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol entry, passed Manning's No. 14 ABC Supply/AJ Foyt Racing car on Lap 52 and led the final nine laps.

Manning, who pitted on Lap 39, inherited the lead on Lap 42 when Briscoe and Dixon went to pit lane for their final stops. Briscoe, who led a race-high 37 laps, came out of the pits just behind Dixon, a three-time winner at Watkins Glen. Hunter-Reay was in fourth.

Hunter-Reay's opportunity came on Lap 49 when Dixon spun while warming his tires under caution. Briscoe made contact with Dixon and both cars stalled in Turn 10. Hunter-Reay narrowly missed the mayhem and moved up to second place. Three laps later he drove inside Manning in Turn 1 and passed for the lead.

The victory was the first for Rahal Letterman Racing since 2004. Manning's second-place finish was his team's best since Airton Dare won at Kansas in 2002.

Tony Kanaan finished third, recovering from a crash during the morning warm-up, and Buddy Rice was fourth. Marco Andretti was fifth, and Dale Coyne Racing teammates Bruno Junqueira and Mario Moraes were sixth and seventh, respectively.

Dixon finished 11th, retaining the IndyCar Series points lead over Helio Castroneves, who finished 16th. Briscoe finished 12th.

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This week Panther Racing was honored to receive an American flag flown over a location near Baghdad, Iraq on July 4, 2007 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The flag was on board a Blackhawk helicopter piloted by aviators of C Company 1/108th Aviation in support of the MNFI Commander, Gen. David Petraeus. The Company is made up of aviators from Kentucky, Iowa and Kansas.

In turn, Panther has placed two of the 1/108th Brigade Insignia patches inside the cockpit of the No. 4 car driven by Vitor Meira and will return the patches to the Aviation Company with a certificate stating it was driven inside the cockpit of Vitor Meira's No. 4 Delphi National Guard car during the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen.

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Panther Racing team manager Ron Catt, a longtime chief mechanic and crewmember, will step over the wall during the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen to replace inside-front tire changer Paul Sheehan, who did not make the trip to New York because of a stomach illness. Sheehan was named "Truckie of the Year" in 2007 by his Indy Racing League peers and is expected to return to the team next weekend in Nashville. Catt has many years of experience as a tire changer, and most recently changed a tire during the 91st Indianapolis 500 for John Andretti, when the veteran drove for Panther in May of 2007.

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After Scott Dixon won the 92nd Indianapolis 500 in May, the New Zealand Land Co-Operative wanted to honor him for the accomplishment. What better way than an all-you-can-eat lamb feast?

Dixon, who was born in Australia but grew up in New Zealand, accepted the offer for free "land," but quickly learned that the offer was for free lamb. Dixon wore an apron reminding him of the mix-up at the feast July 5 at Watkins Glen International.

Shane O'Hara, CEO of New Zealand Land Co-Operative, and Geoff Andrews, regional manager North America for Kea New Zealand, prepared the traditional New Zealand barbeque for Dixon, his family and the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew. The meal included New Zealand lamb, venison, sausage, beer, wine and Pavlova, a dessert consisting of meringue with whipped cream and fresh berries on top.

Andrews and O'Hara brought in 24 racks of lamb and spent about three hours preparing the feast, grilling the meat in traditional New Zealand style.

GEOFF ANDREWS: ""We consider it an honor to be able to do this. It is the least that we can do. We're very, very proud. It is a magnificent achievement. Not only that, but he is a wonderful ambassador for New Zealand."

SCOTT DIXON: "It's very nice of them to supply the food and come here, especially on a weekend. To get a bit of lamb, which doesn't happen too much around here, is pretty cool."

***

Dan Wheldon and wife Susie welcomed two new additions to the family this week - a Toy Poodle they named Molly and a Chihuahua they named Maverick. Both dogs are 2 months old and weigh less than two pounds. They are expected to join the couple on the road next weekend at Nashville Superspeedway.

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "Everybody knows I'm pretty fussy about making sure everything is neat and organized, and I couldn't see myself with a 100-pound Rottweiler running around the house. You should have seen Susie's face when she saw these two dogs, and there was no way we were leaving without them."

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Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk finished third in today's Historic Grand Prix, driving a 1975 Penske PC-3 that was originally driven by John Watson, a five-time winner in Formula One.

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INDYCAR SERIES POST-RACE NOTES:

* This is Ryan Hunter-Reay's first victory in the IndyCar Series. His previous best finish was sixth at Indianapolis earlier this season and Michigan last season. He won while driving in Champ Car at Surfers Paradise in 2003 and Milwaukee in 2004.

* Hunter-Reay will be featured on a 60' x 80' Izod billboard in Times Square beginning July 7.

* This is Rahal Letterman Racing's fourth victory in the IndyCar Series. Driver Buddy Rice recorded three wins for the team in 2004 (Kansas, Indianapolis, Michigan).

* Darren Manning finished a career-best second. His previous best was fourth four times (most recently Belle Isle in 2007).

* Second is the best finish for A.J. Foyt Racing since Airton Dare won at Kansas in 2002.

* Tony Kanaan finished third, his fifth podium finish of the season.

* Buddy Rice finished fourth, his best finish since finishing fourth at Iowa in 2007.

* Bruno Junqueira finished sixth, his best finish in the IndyCar Series. His previous best was 15th at Kansas and Texas.

* Mario Moraes finished seventh, his best finish in the IndyCar Series . His previous best was 16th at Homestead-Miami and St. Petersburg .

* Dale Coyne Racing placed both drivers in the top 10, its first top-10 finishes in the IndyCar Series.

* Scott Dixon finished 11th, ending his streak of seven consecutive top-10 finishes that had been the longest active streak in the IndyCar Series. He also had seven consecutive top-five finishes.

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INDYCAR SERIES POST-RACE QUOTES:

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol, first): "It's a dream come true - American kid winning with ethanol on the side of the car. It's an American team - Bobby Rahal gave me the job and now we're in victory circle. I can't tell you how happy I am. This is amazing." (On his pass for the lead) "I just got a good run on Darren (Manning), stuffed it down in there, and said I'll deal with it when it happens. Then I got to the top of the hill, Darren popped to the outside so I stuck to the inside and we held on to it from there." (On seeing Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe crash) "Dixon was warming the tires really hard. And I was like, ‘You know what, I'm going to see if I can do it that hard.' But I thought, ‘You know what, I might loop this thing doing it.' Low and behold, a lap later there he goes. It was amazing. It was like the seas were part ing. For all the bad luck that's gone our way, for it to finally go our way a little bit, that's huge. Great timing too."

DARREN MANNING (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./AJ Foyt Racing, second): "(Ryan Hunter-Reay) was pretty fast. I think I was fast in the straightaways and he had a bit more downforce. Once we got settled in we were kind of doing the same pace, but I was kind of a sitting duck. I think he learned off of my restarts not to go too late and get one done early and go through the dirt that the guys had brought up a few laps earlier. But it's good for us. It's good for ABC Supply. We've been struggling the last couple races, and we know we're always quick on these road courses, so it's good there's a few coming up."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, third): "It was a weird race. Sometimes it's good to see another face in victory lane. I'm always happy to see someone who hasn't won a race yet win, so congratulations to Ryan (Hunter-Reay). We did all we could. I have to thank my guys for putting my car back together after the suspension failure in warm-up. My wrist kind of gave up on me a little bit. I'm in a lot of pain right now, but we'll be fine. It's good to be in pain on the podium. We took what we got, and it was good for the championship, so we are getting closer now."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, fourth): "We had a good finish. It was great for Dreyer & Reinbold and the whole team. For us, we had a little mistake yesterday in qualifying and we didn't get everything we wanted out of it, but we knew we had a fast car if we just could get to the front. Dennis (Reinbold) was good calling fuel strategy, and everything kind of played out and it was really good. Our car was really good on long runs. I don't know if you've seen the last two (races), but we've had stuff fallen off the car, and I've screwed up. We're just trying to wipe that out, get back in the points here and have a solid finish on the year. We've got a lot of things we're trying to make happen here at Dreyer & Reinbold and really step up this program."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Oso*fresh, fifth): "It is very tough to pass here, but we were able to get around some guys on the restarts. Unfortunately two of them got called back. It's really frustrating because track position is very difficult to get here. It was a race of attrition today, and that worked for us. There was a vibration in the left-rear the entire race that was caused from the contact with Dan (Wheldon) on the first lap, and I'm lucky that the oso*fresh car hung on. People were all over the place, blocking like crazy on the back stretch, but we played it right today and collected some valuable points."

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 18 Z-Line Designs, sixth): "I'm very happy with a sixth-place finish today. We could have had a top-three finish today as we were running up there all race, but I short-shifted coming into Turn 1 on the second-to-last re-start and lost two positions. Because of all the cautions towards the end, I didn't have enough time to overtake Marco Andretti for fifth. The No. 18 Z-Line Designs car was great all weekend long. The team did a fantastic job. I love this track as it is a great course to drive on. I can't wait to go to Mid-Ohio in two weeks. It was nice to see my teammate Mario Moraes also have his best finish on the season."

MARIO MORAES (No. 19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q, seventh): "It was a great day for the No. 19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q car. I'm happy we finished seventh today, but I think we could have been in the top three. On the first lap of the race I was able to overtake six cars and jump to seventh. We ran up in the top five at times, but we lost a couple spots during a pit stop, which I think kept us from a higher finish. The car was fast all weekend, and the team deserves credit for that. Hopefully we can get more top-10 finishes with four of the last seven races being on road or street courses."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps, eighth): "I am pretty happy with the way the race went. We progressed, and the guys stuck with it. We had a bit of a tough pit stop at the end, but we got past (Hideki) Mutoh and some other guys. The car was pretty good the last couple of stints. If we had started the weekend with this type of car, we would have been a lot more competitive. I've got to give it to the guys; they have stuck with me this weekend after my crash on Saturday. With John (Littlefield) and Dog (Tim Homburg) staying here until 3 a.m. last night, I'm sure all they want to do is just pass out now. I can't thank them enough. We really need some testing. We need some time to work on getting up to speed. Hopefully before the Mid-Ohio race we can do some homework and come back with a better car there. Justin (Wilson) was obviously very competitive this weekend, and we tried to run his setup and our car was horrible . These guys are working hard. At the end of the day that is all we can do. We'll just keep chipping away at it."

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream, ninth): "I was able to move up to the seventh position, so I wish I was able to finish at that position. Considering the fact I started from the 20th, I guess it is pretty good to finish ninth. It is always good to get points, and I enjoyed racing at the road course. I am glad I didn't give up and kept trying to pass as many cars as possible."

***

The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the Firestone Indy 200 July 12 at Nashville Superspeedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 8 p.m. (EDT) by ESPN. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Sunbelt Rentals 100 on July 12 at Nashville Superspeedway. The race will be telecast at 2 p.m. (EDT) July 17 on ESPN2. The Corning Duels will be telecast at 2 p.m. (EDT) July 10 on ESPN2 and live on www.indycar.com.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Arie Luyendyk , Airton Daré , Helio Castroneves , Bruno Junqueira , Bobby Rahal , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Hunter-Reay , John Watson , Buddy Rice , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Mario Moraes , Dale Coyne , A.J. Foyt , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing , Dale Coyne Racing