Scott Dixon Wins at Watkins Glen

Scott Dixon was furious after crashing out of the race at Texas last weekend. He was able to channel that emotion this weekend at Watkins Glen, where he dominated the entire weekend. The Iceman led all four practice sessions, started on Pole, and cruised to victory today in IndyCar’s first trip back to The Glen since 2010. It’s the second win of the season for Dixon, his fourth win at the track, and the 40th win of his career.

Dixon led 50 of the 60 laps on Sunday, and crossed the finished line 16.5308 seconds ahead of second place. That driver was Josef Newgarden, who earned his fourth podium finish of the season after starting in 12th position. Helio Castroneves joined them on the podium, improving one spot from his qualifying position.

IndyCar Grand Prix at The Glen Box Score

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While the weekend belonged to Dixon, the real story was the championship battle between Penske teammates Simon Pagenaud and Will Power. After starting on the front row, Power ran into trouble on Lap 39 when he got tangled with Charlie Kimball. Power’s car was destroyed, and he finished in 20th position. Pagenaud feathered his No. 22 car to the finish line, coming home in 7th place. He now has a 43 point lead heading into the final race of the season at Sonoma. Power was checked and released from the medical center, but has not yet been cleared to drive.

Daly had himself quite the day, after starting in 17th position. He was headed toward another podium finish today, before running out of fuel on the final lap. Castroneves was able to take that spot, but Conor managed to coast across the line in 4th place. It’s the fifth time that Daly has finished inside the top-six this season. His teammate RC Enerson impressed yet again in just his second IndyCar start. The talented young driver finished 9th on Sunday.

There were a few drivers that had a rough day, including both SPM drivers. James Hinchcliffe was running in second on the final lap when he ran out of fuel. He ended up finishing in 18th. Teammate Mikhail Aleshin had a left-rear tire explode on him in the middle of Turn 7, which sent him spinning out of control. Graham Rahal’s day ended on Lap 20, when he (like Power) made contact with Kimball.

Tony Kanaan was running up front all day until he had rear suspension issues that put him a lap down. Ryan Hunter-Reay was a non-factor all weekend, as he finished 14th after qualifying back in 19th position. Juan Montoya had a late spin that spoiled a potential podium finish for him.

The season has come down to the final race, where a champion will be crowned. Pagenaud’s 43-point lead gives him a little breathing room, but it is still a double points paying event, so the results will be magnified. In addition to all of that, it’s the final opportunity for the drivers to score a win before the long off-season begins.

The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma is two weeks away, on September 18. NBC Sports Network will provide coverage of the event, which begins at 6:30 PM ET.

Race Photos via IndyCar

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Driver Quotes

Helio Castroneves: “It was really good. The Hitachi Chevy was actually running smooth. But, unfortunately when I saw the numbers, and the way the set-up for our car, I don’t think we’d be able to save fuel. And I told those guys on the radio. Guys, let us think of some other strategy because this is going to be tough to save fuel. I’m glad they were able to pick-up really quick. We bailed out right away and were able to push as hard as we could and open up enough of a gap so in the end, I guess the No. 5 and the No. 18 ended-up running out of fuel, so it was a great strategy with Roger (Penske) and the Hitachi car. Now let’s keep going. I know the championship might be over, but it’s not over for Team Penske. So, now we need to focus and go win Sonoma.”

James Hinchcliffe: “It was a frustrating end to a frustrating weekend. I was meeting fuel numbers during the last stint and I could easily have saved more at the end, but I lost the radio on the last lap. I was just cruising because I didn’t know if I needed to save more or not. Either way, I have to give credit to the No. 5 Arrow Electronics crew because the pit stops were on point today and they did what they needed to do. The car had the speed all weekend and hopefully we’ll be able to carry that over to Sonoma.”

Mikhail Aleshin: “This was a great weekend to start and not so great to finish. I hope that we got all of the bad luck out of the way here and we can have a strong finish to the season in Sonoma. The No. 7 SMP Racing car was fantastic in the first stint. I had the second best time in the race, which shows the potential we have for Sonoma.”

Max Chilton: “It was a day that could have been fantastic but ended up slightly disappointing after running P2. I got damage on Lap 1, Turn 1, with the steering and then for the rest of the race my pace was pretty decent considering I was held back by the issue.”

Scott Dixon: “These are the weekends you definitely don’t forget. Just in the shear fact that we had such a smooth one, which made it hard also going into the race. We’d been fast in practice, fast in qualifying, and then obviously got the pole. You just think of the problems and maybe the strategy not going your way or having a mechanical that takes you out of it. All of it is what the team does. Huge credit to everybody at Team Target and the whole of the Ganassi organization. From the people back the workshop to the guys that are here on the weekend to make this opportunity possible. The car was just fantastic and the track I love. I love coming to upstate New York. This track is one of the old school great American tracks that we are lucky enough to come back here and race. A huge thanks to the Verizon IndyCar Series and everyone at The Glen for working this out in a very short timeframe and the fans responded. It was great to see so many people here with not even having this on the schedule really earlier. I just love being back here and I think we should have a double points race here and probably race two or three times more (a year) at The Glen.”

Tony Kanaan: “We had such a fast car with the No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet – I think we actually had the fastest lap of the race. It’s just a shame that we had the issue we did and lost a few laps getting it fixed in the pits because we definitely had a chance to get on the podium today. I’m really happy for Scott (Dixon) though – he really deserved this win, especially with how much he dominated here all weekend.”

Sebastien Bourdais: “Overall I am pretty happy. The Hydroxycut/DPS Nutrition – KVSH Racing Team was competitive all weekend. It was a tough race and we knew push-to-pass was going to be really important. I didn’t want to use it at the start. That was a mistake because everyone else did and I got swallowed up and got hit. After that it was always going to be a tough race trying to come from the very back. I got a lucky break with the first yellow and then as usual we were really good on fuel, so I wasn’t worried about that. I was getting big vibrations and blisters on the rear tires. The last two or three laps I was really worried. I am just glad it stuck and thanks to our sponsors Hydroxycut, DPS Nutrition and Chevy. I am just really happy for the whole KVSH Racing organization.  We had the pace, passed a couple of cars and to finish in the top-five is very satisfying and a heck of an achievement.”

Takuma Sato: “Quite an eventful and exciting race. The yellows made us decide on a good strategy. At one stage it was a mixed strategy but the team made a good call on the last one. We had a couple good battles, and in the end, we were able to charge when everyone else had to save fuel. We attacked our way through the field. With two laps to go, I tried to set up (Simon) Pagenaud and I approached the turn wider than usual to make a good exit but I got in the marbles and lost grip in Turn 7. I lost it and screwed up-I have no words for that. I feel really sorry for the sponsors and the mechanics. It could have been a strong result but I couldn’t put it together.”

Graham Rahal: “I had a great run on (Charlie) Kimball, I got inside, completed the pass and he decided not to give me any room on the exit. That was a hard hit, probably the hardest I’ve taken in my life, ovals included. It’s a shame. We were looking really good before that yellow (Mikhail Aleshin). My United Rentals car was phenomenal. We were able to move up and pass more cars than I thought we could, save a lot of overtakes and our tires were better than everybody else. We were just taking our time and saving a ton of fuel looking to go longer on that stint than anybody. But then the caution came out which was a little unlucky but I thought we could bounce back from it. Unfortunately, we got back there with Kimball. I have to take blame too because I put myself in that position. I should know better than to race him like that. It’s disappointing and I’m a little ticked off. I disagreed heavily with the penalty yesterday that put us back there in the first place. And when you take an impact like that the guys are going to have a heck of a lot of work to get this fixed for the Sonoma test on Thursday. I don’t know if this car is even repairable, the tub was bad. It’s a great crowd at Watkins Glen. We can’t thank everybody enough. With our Turns for Troops program with United Rentals, $50 for every lap completed goes to Soldier Strong and we were tied for the most laps completed until today. This put a dent in that total.”

Conor Daly: “I really just can’t believe that we ended up fourth. It was a back-and-forth race with all kinds of stuff going on. But our car was fast, we knew it all weekend. We just had horrible luck. At the end they said we were making the right fuel number and I was making up positions and then I was told we could go a little bit quicker, so one lap we used a bit more fuel and then they came on the radio and said ‘code red’. If we would’ve saved a little bit more on that one lap, we maybe could have held off Helio. I had no idea where we were, third or fourth or fifth, but at the end of the day, I’ll take fourth.”

RC Enerson: “It’s pretty crazy. We had one killer start. We went from 11th to seventh just with people spinning off. I was on the push-to-pass, made a pass into the bus stop a little sideways and then held sixth for a long time. We then got caught out by the yellow, which for me was a big confidence destroyer. We were sitting at the back, the last running car. The team made the right call on the pit stop and we were just trying to hit the fuel number to make it to the end. It was pretty exciting. I think saving fuel is more of a mental thing. You have to keep reminding yourself to lift before a corner and then you catch yourself and realize you should’ve saved fuel in that last corner. It was tough but we were able to fly up the field there at the end.”

Spencer Pigot: “The race was going pretty well. We were battling inside the Top 10 for the majority of the race, especially through the middle stints. We were looking good to get a Top 10 finish but after we had to start saving fuel we fell back. It was a bit of a shame we had to start saving so much. We couldn’t keep the pace up and save fuel, so we fell back to 15th. It was a lot of fun, I had some great battles out there. The car was really good and the guys gave me excellent pit stops. It was great to have Samsung come on board this weekend and also thanks to Fuzzy’s Vodka, Rising Star Racing, Mockett and everyone else that makes this happen.”

Josef Newgarden: “Well, there’s a little discrepancy there with the timing stand and the driver. They give you a number to hit for fuel, and if you beat it a couple of laps in a row, you think ‘OK they’re going to raise the number and give me more fuel.’ And they weren’t giving me more fuel. So, I was screaming at them. I was like, ‘Guys, I’m hitting this number, you give me more fuel now!’ They finally gave it to me in the end. We were kind of in a different race compared to (Scott) Dixon. The right guy won it this weekend. There was really no stopping this guy. Congratulations to him and all of Chip Ganassi Racing. For us, I think we can’t be too displeased with second place. It’s been a tough weekend. It’s not been our smoothest. I think we came back really strong. We had a phenomenal race with great pit stops and we got on the podium. So, it’s a pretty good day. Hopefully we can go to Sonoma now and get even better results to finish off the year right.”

Simon Pagenaud: “It was a pretty eventful day. The last caution made it so the guys in front had to save a lot of fuel, and we didn’t save enough at the start of the stint and was very slow. We made it back in seventh and for the championship the day was very good. We collected a lot of points and we have a bit of a cushion going into Sonoma. We still have to race hard, but it’s going to be a lot more comfortable.”

Carlos Munoz: “I don’t know, it was kind of a weird race, really. We were a little bit lucky on the yellow in the beginning and then we just didn’t have enough speed. I think compared to where we were in qualifying we improved, but it wasn’t enough. I think the hhgregg team worked really hard over the weekend. We tried hundreds of different things but we never got it exactly right. But I can’t say thanks enough to the guys for working really, really hard this weekend, it’s too bad we just didn’t get it right.”

Marco Andretti: “That’s as good as we were going to get for the UFD / Snapple car today. It was fun running up with the leaders for a bit, but we knew it was short lived due to the strategy we were on. We need to pick up mechanical grip. I’m sawing at the wheel when guys are just going straight and putting the power down. It’s just frustrating. We don’t seem to have the grip anyone else does.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay: “Not the position we wanted to see the DHL Honda in to end our weekend at Watkins Glen. We really enjoyed being back at The Glen and are looking forward to being back in 2017. Our strategy was just off all day. We ended up saving fuel when in the end it would have been faster to have just taken a pit stop. On to Sonoma where we can hopefully end the season on a better note.”

Jack Hawksworth: “The car was really good and I was very happy with the car the whole race especially with the black. I wish I could have done Takuma (Sato)’s strategy and pushed. That would have been a lot of fun. The guys did a nice job with the car – it was fast all weekend. I made a mistake on the second lap and lost a couple positions and then we had some issues with the stops. A shame about the result, nothing really worked out.”

Charlie Kimball: “I didn’t think we had a lot of contact with Graham (Rahal) – I felt like I gave him plenty of room around the inside. I was focused on the exit because the big passing opportunity especially with a restart like that was up the hill into the Bus Stop. The No. 83 Chevrolet was so fast and the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing guys were so fast in the pit lane. That last stint we were focusing on the fuel mileage number. We came up the hill and everyone else that I passed I got to the left, and everyone stayed right to block, and Will – it’s like he had no idea I was there. He just kept following I think the 26 car over, and ran me onto the grass, and when I bounced off the grass I bounced into him. I was sorry to have gotten into him, but frankly if he would have known I was there, I know he wouldn’t have run me off the road. It was a crazy race for us for sure. If you would’ve told me after we had to stop at the end for a splash of fuel that I’d end up in the top six I’m not sure I would’ve believed you. I’m really happy with the result for the No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet and even happier for (Scott) Dixon for grabbing the win today.”

Alexander Rossi: “I think it was a decent race. We had to save a lot of fuel there at the end, so I think a potential top five slipped through our hands because of that. But generally I think with a disappointing qualifying, that is the best that we could come up with. We’ll have to take this result and move on to Sonoma.”

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