IndyCar teams washed out at The Glen
Almost half of the current Izod IndyCar Series teams came to Watkins Glen International to test for the July 2-4 Camping World Grand Prix. Instead, a bunch of people in the garage were playing Bejeweled on their iPhones.
A day-long downpour kept even a series equipped to race in the rain off the track Wednesday, which may give the advantage to no one when the race weekend rolls around. The impact of missing out on even a dozen laps varied from team to team.
“I was definitely looking forward to running the track because I have never seen it before, but for our team, we realized there’s a couple different things we’d like to learn about road course setups and street course setups,” said Alex Tagliani, a Quebec native who visited The Glen for the first time Wednesday with a first-year team starving for data. “As a team, it would have been very important for us to test here and for myself as well – to have a general idea of the little tricks around the track. It’s a pretty big setback for us.”
Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates thought it so important to get a leg up on arch-rival Team Penske, the team sent both of its championship drivers – Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti. After winning the first three (almost four) grands prix at The Glen, the Ganassi team slipped last year and came to get some of that speed back.
“We’re trying to get a jump on everybody,” said Franchitti, who has been on a whirlwind tour since winning the Indianapolis 500 two weeks ago.
Franchitti arrived in Schuyler County only after he did all the post-Indy press, promoted the race in Texas last week and spent two days in New York City for an extended Indy tour. He had plenty of down time Wednesday.
“I’ve been bloody busy, I know that. I’m looking forward to things calming down the next couple of days,” he said.
Had the rain stopped, the general consensus was to get on track – all but Dixon and Franchitti, whose team neglected to bring rain tires. However, steady showers created too many puddles on the 3.4-mile permanent road course for the teams to risk bending parts and pieces.
Those who took reconnaissance laps around the course got to see the changes made to the runoff areas in the offseason.
“I just took one lap in a rental car. It seems like they’ll be good changes. The last corner will have the biggest effect on the drivers – the fact it decreased the width of the road,” said defending grand prix champ Justin Wilson. “You’ve got that SAFER barrier there now, but the SAFER barrier is a lot better than having a tire wall that can suck you in, now it will be more of a glancing blow if you make a mistake.”
“I definitely like that they’ve taken the gravel trap away at the bus stop – I ended up there twice in races,” Franchitti added. “The second-to-last corner that looks great as well, but the last corner I’m not sure yet. I like the fact that Watkins Glen has spent a lot of money trying to make this track safe.” Corning Leader