WILSON BREAKS THROUGH AT THE GLEN FOR COYNE'S FIRST VICTORY WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Sunday, July 5) -- Facing a Lap 54 restart with the Nos. 6 and 9 cars of Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon trailing, Dale Coyne said driver Justin Wilson had to hold off...
WILSON BREAKS THROUGH AT THE GLEN FOR COYNE'S FIRST VICTORY
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Sunday, July 5) -- Facing a Lap 54 restart with the Nos. 6 and 9 cars of Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon trailing, Dale Coyne said driver Justin Wilson had to hold off "two goliaths." Well, that's one for the little guys. Wilson provided Dale Coyne Racing its first IndyCar Series victory -- in its 558th open-wheel racing start over 25 years -- in the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen on July 5.
Wilson, whose only previous top 10 this season was third in the opener at St. Petersburg, also was the last driver other than one from Target Chip Ganassi Racing or Team Penske to win -- at Belle Isle last August with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
"It feels fantastic," said Wilson, who started on the outside of the front row and led a field-high 49 laps. "This is the most important win in my career; winning with Dale and showing what we can do. It's a fantastic feeling."
Wilson, riding on Firestone alternate tires on that final restart, pulled away and beat Briscoe to the checkers by 4.9906 seconds. Dixon, who took over the championship points lead, finished third. Helio Castroneves advanced nine positions to finish fourth. Marco Andretti overcame contact with E.J. Viso's car on Lap 5 that put him a lap down, wound his way through the field to overtake Mike Conway on the final lap for fifth.
"It took too long," said Coyne, who is competing in his 25th year of open-wheel racing as a driver and owner, about the long-awaited victory. "We knew Justin was a strong road racer. We almost showed it at St. Pete, and we showed it here."
Wilson inherited the lead on Lap 45 when Andretti made his final service stop for ethanol and Firestone Firehawks in the No. 26 Team Venom Energy car for Andretti Green Racing. Briscoe closed to .4743 of a second with 10 laps left before a full-course caution period on Lap 52 when Hideki Mutoh's car made contact with the barrier in Turn 7. Wilson had two sets of the Firehawk "reds" at his disposal for the race.
Briscoe, running on the regular compound tires the final stint, was runner-up for the fourth time this season and is tied for second in the standings with Dario Franchitti (19 points behind). Franchitti's No. 10 Polaroid car for Target Chip Ganassi Racing spun and came to rest in the gravel in the Inner Loop on Lap 23. He returned and finished 15th.
"Big congrats to Dale Coyne and the whole team and Justin," said Briscoe, who won the PEAK Performance Pole Award with a record-setting lap in the Firestone Fast Six session. "We went a lap further than him in the first stint. That was going to get us the lead back, but unfortunately the yellow came and we had to make two pit stops. That put us back. We had to work hard to come through the field. We had some great pit stops and it was pretty exciting at the end with everybody on the softer compound. I had my hands full defending them."
The pole winner has never won the race at The Glen in five visits by the IndyCar Series.
Viso finished a season-high seventh in the No. 13 PDVSA HVM Racing car, and Tony Kanaan posted his second consecutive top 10 in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car for Andretti Green Racing.
"We moved many positions in the pits," said Viso, who recorded his first top 10 of the season. "And I am very proud of being able to work very hard throughout the championship to achieve, little by little, better results. Now we head to Toronto." Robert Doornbos, who started 17th in the No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing car, equaled his season high with a ninth-place finish. Dan Wheldon, driving the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing entry, finished 10th and Danica Patrick was 11th in the No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola car.
Corning 100 winner J.R. Hildebrand drove the Honda Accord Pace Car for the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen today as a substitute for three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford, who is in England this weekend for the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
J.R. HILDEBRAND: "It's the first time I'll lead an IndyCar Series race. (Indy Racing League Vice President of Competition) Tony Cotman asked me to do it, and I jumped at the chance. Personally I think he asked so that they can keep calling for 'J.R.' in the pace car."
New York Governor David Paterson was the honorary starter of the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen. ***
University of Buffalo head football coach Turner Gill was the grand marshal of the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen. ***
CAMPING WORLD GRAND PRIX AT THE GLEN POST-RACE NOTES:
•This is the second IndyCar Series of Justin Wilson's career. He won the Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone on Aug. 31, 2008 at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park in Detroit when driving for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
•Justin Wilson's previous-best finish this season was third on the street course at St. Petersburg.
•This is the first victory for Dale Coyne in 558 starts as an owner/driver or team owner in major-league open-wheel racing. •This is the first victory for a team other than Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing since Justin Wilson won Aug. 31, 2008 at Belle Isle in a Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing car, a streak of 10 points races and one non-points race.
•Justin Wilson led 49 of the 60 laps, the most laps led by a winner in the history of this event. The previous record was 25 by Scott Dixon in 2005.
•This is the fifth top-three finish of the season for Ryan Briscoe. He has a victory at St. Petersburg.
•Scott Dixon took the IndyCar Series points lead from teammate Dario Franchitti with his third-place finish.
•This is the fifth top-three finish of the season for Scott Dixon. He has three victories (Kansas, Milwaukee, Richmond). •This was the best street/road course finish of the season for Scott Dixon. His previous best was 15th at Long Beach.
•Drivers leading the series championship at the midway point of the season have won the title in six of the last 12 seasons, dating back to the 1996-97 season. This is the midway point of the 2009 season, round nine of 17. Scott Dixon is the points leader.
•Rookie Mike Conway finished a career-best sixth. His previous best finish was eighth at Iowa, an oval.
•EJ Viso finished a season-best seventh. His previous best was 12th at Richmond, an oval.
•Rookie Robert Doornbos equaled his career-best finish of ninth, also recorded at Long Beach, a street circuit, and Richmond, an oval.
•Dario Franchitti finished 15th, just his second finish outside the top 10 this season. He finished 18th at Kansas, an oval.
CAMPING WORLD GRAND AT THE GLEN POST-RACE QUOTES:
JUSTIN WILSON (#18 Z-Line Designs, winner): "It was just the fact that we've just worked at this all year, and we've put a lot of effort into the road courses. To dominate like we did is fantastic. I've got to thank Dale (Coyne) for putting me into the car. I didn't think I would be driving, and here we are in Victory Lane. It feels great. I was grinning from ear to ear on the last lap. It just felt so good to do that for Dale. We've been trying to build this team up, and we're coming. This is my most important win in my career, winning with Dale and showing what we can do. It's a fantastic feeling."
DALE COYNE (Team owner, Dale Coyne Racing):
(About his first victory as an open-wheel team owner): "It took too long."
(About being first team other than Team Penske or Target Chip Ganassi Racing to win this season): "We've been trying hard. We've put a good group of people together. We knew Justin was a good road racer. We almost showed it at St. Pete, and we showed it here today."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, second): "Big congrats to Dale Coyne and the whole team and Justin (Wilson). We got caught out by the yellow. We went a lap further than him in the first stint. That was going to get us the lead back, but unfortunately the yellow came, and we had to make two pit stops. That put us back. We had to work hard to come through the field. We had some great pit stops, and it was pretty exciting at the end with everybody on the softer compound. I had my hands full defending them."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, third): "It was definitely pretty tough. We lost a spot at the start when I didn't shift down enough gears and (Mario) Moraes got by us. It was a tough first stint. We had about eight to 10 laps on them from qualifying, and they wore out pretty quick. We got caught out on strategy, and we didn't have enough. Congratulations to Justin (Wilson). He drove a fantastic race and was unstoppable today. Ryan (Briscoe) and I had a great race at the end, and thanks to the Target boys we had a good day."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, fourth): "The goal is not to start in the middle of the pack. We definitely had a fantastic day. I knew the car was much better than 13th. On the second pit stop, those guys (Dale Coyne Racing) definitely had red tires and made a great, clean lap. But at the end of the day, we finished fourth. If you would have told me at the beginning of the race that we would finish fourth, I would have told you, 'No way, you don't know what you're talking about,' but it turned out to be a great day."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy, fifth): "I knew I had to worry about that guy (E.J. Viso), everybody does. It was a great effort for the Venom boys today. We definitely had the pace, and I think that's definitely promising for the future. It's definitely tough. You've got to get the right yellow, which we did. We were definitely lucky for that. I knew once we were on the lead lap we were going to have enough pace for the front-runners, and I knew it was going to be interesting."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 24 Dad's Root Beer/Dreyer & Reinbold, sixth): "It was a great result for everybody. We ran strong all day. It was a shame that we couldn't quite get the result in the end. It was a case of me coming out of the box, and I lost a couple of seconds and gave me the gap to Justin Wilson, and everyone came in between us. We were running top five and saving fuel. I struggled with the balance in the end, but we still brought the Dad's Root Beer car home in sixth place. I just have to thank the Dad's Root Beer crew; they did a great job all weekend, and I'm looking forward to Toronto."
EJ VISO (No. 13 PDVSA HVM Racing, seventh): "We had a pretty good race, forgetting the first few laps. I was behind Marco (Andretti) and he was blocking me a lot, and there was a point I was trying to overtake him in Corner 8, but he just blocked me so much, we hit each other. And he had a puncture, and I broke my front wing. Other than that, we had a good car. We had very, very good pit stops. We moved many positions in the pits. And I am very proud of being able to work very hard throughout the championship to achieve, little by little, better results. Now we head to Toronto."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, eighth): "I really thought the Team 7-Eleven car was going to have a better finish today. We are working really hard to improve our race results, and it's frustrating when we finish lower than we expected. I'm headed to Indy tonight to work with my engineers this week, so hopefully we can figure out what we can do to make us more competitive moving forward. I'm looking forward to getting to Toronto since it's a track I have been to many times."
ROBERT DOORNBOS (No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, ninth): "The race was the best part of the weekend for us. We ran the whole day, and I saw the checkered flag. Ninth place is not what were working for here, but we're trying to get things turned around and have the luck going our way. Obviously, yesterday was a disastrous day and since it was a two-day weekend, your weekend is gone because this weekend is about track position. There are good drivers out here, and it's hard to pass. The start was nasty. This place, it's probably known that people going up the hill on cold tires is quite tricky. Somebody down the back straight lifted, and then it was a chain reaction, so the closing rate was enormous and I hit the ABC car, I think, and he hit Matos again. I asked the boys to check for front-wing damage when I went by because I had a lot of understeer. I did have damage, so it was a good call by the team to change it. That obviously messed up the race a bit but we got P9. After the problem, we had a different strategy that everybody else. The two Newman/Haas/Lanigan cars pitted early and tried to go out of sequence. I had some fast laps, and we were closing up, and then the yellow came out, which was in our favor. But the 20 car of Ed Carpenter was just not closing up and was driving really slow. I'm not allowed to overtake or I will get a penalty, so I was shouting on the radio because that was a loss of maybe 10 seconds, and that's why we had to pit again. Everybody needs to listen up in the drivers' briefing. You have to push and close up even if you want to save fuel. I did enjoy myself in the race. Let's regroup and get a mega result in Toronto."
DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing, 10th): "Unfortunately it might have just been one of those days for the National Guard Panther Racing team. The car was very competitive; we just had a little bit of a slower pit stop on the last stop. But that happens. With our tire choice today we just got unlucky; when our red tires were on there were some sporadic yellows and when we had the blacks on it stayed green. It was just one of those days, but everybody at Panther continues to work very hard and did a good job this weekend, and we'll bounce back in Toronto."
SERIES OWNERS, OFFICIALS QUOTES ON DALE COYNE'S FIRST VICTORY
JIMMY VASSER (Co-owner, KV Racing Technology): "I know Dale (Coyne) has been working hard to build his team. I believe that Justin (Wilson) is one of the best guys out there. I'm not surprised, and I'm very pleased for all of them."
BRIAN BARNHART (President, Competition and Racing Operations, Indy Racing League): "It couldn't have happened for anybody better than Dale (Coyne). His dedication, commitment and perseverance is second to none. It all paid off for him today, and I wish him nothing but happiness and congratulations."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Co-owner, Andretti Green Racing): "It's great. They've been knocking at the door, and they did a great job. I'm really, really happy for Dale (Coyne). He's been coming here for a long time, so to finally get it (the win) is good."
ROGER PENSKE (Owner, Penske Racing): "Congratulations to Dale on his first IndyCar win. Dale has been a great friend and a great competitor for many years, and we are very happy for him and his team. They worked very hard for this. I thought Justin Wilson drove a great race, and he certainly deserved the victory today."
MIKE HULL (Managing Director, Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "We're absolutely ecstatic for Dale Coyne winning the race. For a guy like Dale to put in not only the perseverance, but more importantly what he's done with his program this year. He stepped up to the plate with his program this year, and he's gotten results. That's an owner that's taken the initiative to make it happen, and those are the kind of owners that make a difference in motor racing. He's done it on two levels, and we're very excited for him."
The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues July 12 with the Honda Indy Toronto on the streets of Toronto. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 1 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The Firestone Indy Lights Corning 100 will be telecast at 11 p.m. (EDT) on Monday, July 6 by VERSUS. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season continues July 11 with the Firestone Indy Lights Grand Prix of Toronto on the streets of Toronto. The race will be telecast at 11 p.m. (EDT) on Monday, July 13 by VERSUS.