IRL: Watkins Glen: Race report

DIXON ENDS 40-RACE WINLESS DROUGHT AT WATKINS GLEN WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Sunday, Sept. 25, 2005 -- Scott Dixon won his first IRL IndyCar® Series race in more than two seasons, winning the inaugural Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix presented by Argent...

DIXON ENDS 40-RACE WINLESS DROUGHT AT WATKINS GLEN

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Sunday, Sept. 25, 2005 -- Scott Dixon won his first IRL IndyCar® Series race in more than two seasons, winning the inaugural Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix presented by Argent Mortgage at Watkins Glen International.

Dixon, the 2003 IndyCar Series champion, inherited the lead when Sam Hornish Jr. pitted with 13 laps remaining in the 60-lap event. He then held off Tony Kanaan on a restart with four laps to go to win his first race since he won at Richmond in June of 2003 -- a span of 40 races.

Kanaan finished second, while his Andretti Green Racing teammate Dario Franchitti was third. Road racing specialist Giorgio Pantano, Dixon's Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate for the weekend, recorded his best career finish by finishing fourth.

Dan Wheldon clinched the 2005 IndyCar Series title by finishing fifth, while Danica Patrick locked up the Bombardier Rookie of the Year title.

WATKINS GLEN INDY GRAND PRIX POST RACE QUOTES:

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone, winner Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix): "This is such a relief for the team. They did a great job all day, and this group really deserves it. I love this track. It is a lot of fun. We ran strong all day, and this is a great feeling."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished second): "I think it's pretty good consistency being in the top two at all three road-courses. We'd love to win this race. I couldn't, but I'm happy for Dan (Wheldon). He did it. He drove a great year, and now we're in a fight for second."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished third): ""It's great winning the championship with Dan (Wheldon). We didn't have the car for the conditions. We were fighting understeer in the hot conditions, so we did stuff to better the understeer and the conditions changed back to where we had oversteer in the car. I had a great time out there I must admit, pushed hard all day. We just didn't have it. Great job by the ArcaEx crew in the pits. Tony (Kanaan) and I finished second and third, Dan winning the championship - pretty cool."

GIORGIO PANTANO (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone, finished fourth): "We fell to 18th after our drive-through penalty. I think we were very quick all the race. Unfortunately, I had this drive-through, and it took away my chance to be on the podium for sure. For me, the car was fantastic. The team did a really good job. It was easy to drive. I was always trying to keep going and pushing. Unfortunately, I had this mistake on the pit stop. That's it. It was great for the team; our first win for this year. They did a great job also in Sonoma where we had a great car. We know we have a good chance to win, and now we have the win. Unfortunately I'm not on the podium with Scott (Dixon)."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz/Honda/Firestone, finished sixth): "It was a great race for us with our second sixth-place finish on a road course. This time was different because in the last (road course) race, I was just holding my position. This time I was able to overtake many cars especially the last three laps after the final caution. When I passed (Sam) Hornish, it was a great overtake because he was absolutely quicker than me and I was able to pass him. On the last lap, two cars crashed in front of me, and I was able to finish in the top six. This race was very good for us, and I am looking forward to the Fontana race."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone, finished ninth): "Overall, it was a really good day for the Delphi Fernandez team considering where we started. The crew gave me some great pit stops, and the car got better and better the longer I ran. My times came down to really good lap times. I could run with guys that qualified way ahead of me. I think we made a lot of progress today, and I wish we could start the weekend over again right now."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (No. 83 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished 10th): "We had a car that was much better than a tenth place finish. Overall the weekend has been great. We had gear shifting problems the entire race. It was a lot of work. It got a lot worse just before that last yellow. It was not going into fifth gear. I just couldn't hold on to that fourth place once all the cars were packed together. But, I am happy. You look and see where we are coming from and where we are going. There were four of five guys at the front that were clearly leading the field today and we were a part of that. So overall it's not that bad."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Argent/Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone, finished 16th): (About clinching Bombardier Rookie of the Year title): "It is a big honor to be both Indy 500 and IRL IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year. Not many drivers have been able to accomplish that feat. That is the goal for every rookie driver, so it is a great feeling to reach that goal. Now my next goal is to win a race. We have won three poles this year, and that is pretty good for a rookie. To win a race is what every driver strives for in racing. I am no different, so we are learning, and I felt that I was getting better on my racing skills at Chicagoland, last race. Now, we go to California (Speedway), and I feel good going to that type of track. Today wasn't a good day for me as we didn't make the Top 10. I think I clipped the ignition switch when I reach for my brake bias knob. That shut down the engine. Overall, the car wasn't as good as we wanted today. But we'll continue to learn. I am rookie until the last race of the season. I still want to put our Argent/Pioneer Honda car in the winner's circle. Maybe at California? We'll work hard to be strong at that final race of the year."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished 12th): "Obviously we're extremely disappointed with today's result, especially because I thought we were finally going to finish a street/permanent road course race this season. The Marlboro Team Penske car was fantastic early on, and we were able to lead a lot of laps. I'm not sure what happened to the car towards the middle of the race. We'll have to take a look at the data back at the race shop and try to figure it out. As far as the incident goes, I don't really know what to say. I was just trying to finish the race and bring the car home in one piece. To be taken out on the final lap is extremely disappointing."

TOMAS ENGE (No. 2 ROCKSTAR Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, finished 13th): "I was fighting with (Helio) Castroneves late in the race and trying to overtake and stay as close as possible and have less drag on my ROCKSTAR car. After the last restart, I pulled along side of him, and we touched. I don't know if he turned into me or if I turned into him, I have to see a replay, but it's a real shame for us and a shame for Helio because he hasn't finished a road course race. We were fighting for a good position, and I had a very, very fast Chevy today. I got past two or three people on every restart, but we lost some important positions in the pits as well. We made great improvements all weekend from Friday right up until the race, and it's just a shame for everybody at Panther and especially the ROCKSTAR team."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, finished seventh): "Overall, I'm satisfied with the way we ran today. It was a race of patience for us, and we did what we needed to do to accomplish our goal of getting to the end and finishing in the top 10. The Marlboro Team Penske car had understeer in the first stint so the crew made a front wing adjustment which improved the handling. I enjoyed racing here, and hopefully next year, we'll be going for a top-three finish."

***

The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Toyota Indy 400 at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Oct. 16 at California Speedway. The race will be broadcast by ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The race broadcast will also be carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 (XM Extreme). ESPN2's telecast of the Corning 100 will be shown at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Sept. 29 The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the California 100 on Oct. 16 at California Speedway. It will be telecast at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Oct. 20.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Giorgio Pantano , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing