IRL: Watkins Glen: Honda race report

Dixon Defends at Wet & Wild Watkins Glen On a day of changing weather and often treacherous track conditions, Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon once again proved his mastery of the 3.37-mile Watkins Glen International road...

Dixon Defends at Wet & Wild Watkins Glen

On a day of changing weather and often treacherous track conditions, Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon once again proved his mastery of the 3.37-mile Watkins Glen International road course in upstate New York, successfully defending his 2005 race victory to record his first win of the 2006 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series.

Sunday's race was the stiffest test yet for Honda Performance Development and the HI6R Series Indy V-8 engine, in HPD's new role as sole engine supplier for the IRL. Engines run at the Watkins Glen road course this weekend were also utilized at last week's Indianapolis 500, and once again performed without a single failure.

In total, 33 drivers ran a total of 12,587.5 miles on race day at Indianapolis, while 19 drivers put another 6,369.3 miles [1,890 laps] on the same engines here at Watkins Glen, for a total of 18,956.8 miles at racing speeds with 100% reliability.

The first IRL-sanctioned race to be run in the rain in the 10-year history of the series, the scheduled 60-lap event began on a wet-but-drying track surface with the entire 19-car field starting on treaded "rain" tires. Although the track dried enough for teams to switch over to "slicks" on their first pit stops, scattered showers and a heavier rain near the end of the event resulted in ever-changing track conditions.

The variable weather was a contributing factor to several spins and crashes, all without injury. There were a total of seven caution periods, and the race was shortened five laps from its scheduled 60-lap distance as a result. Dixon ran in the lead group all day, but only moved into the lead on Lap 47, leading the final nine laps as the rain reached his heaviest point in the race.

Vitor Meira also had his best race since moving to Panther Racing at the start of the season, finishing second for the fifth time in his five-year IndyCar career. Ryan Briscoe, making his return to IndyCar racing since being injured in a massive crash at Chicagoland last year, rounded out the top three in his first appearance for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

Scott Dixon (#9 Energizer/Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Started 4th, finished 1st, second consecutive IndyCar win at Watkins Glen: "It definitely took a bit of luck to win today, but the team made all the right calls for me concerning the weather and when to change from the rain tires to slicks. It was just extremely tough out there today. The track conditions were changing all the time, especially at the end when the rains returned. When we went green for the final time, it was difficult to know how hard you could push when the rain was getting even heavier. But I think we were due for some good fortune and it came our way today."

Robert Clarke (President, Honda Performance Development) on Honda performance in today's race: "It was another successful event for us, with no engine problems among any of the cars. This was a good test of the versatility of the Honda Indy V-8, with the same engines running both this event and the Indianapolis 500 last week. Our congratulations to Scott [Dixon] on his excellent victory; to Vitor [Meira] for a hard-fought second place; and to Ryan Briscoe for an excellent performance in his return to the IndyCar Series with the Dreyer and Reinbold team."

-honda-

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