Watkins Glen: Briscoe tops Friday practice
Penske Racing's Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves were 1-2 in Friday practice for this weekend's Indy Car race at Watkins Glen. While the times are still some 3.5 seconds off of last year's pole, the times should be faster tomorrow when more rubber is laid down.
This is the first time Briscoe topped the charts on a road course this year. "This is my favorite track, I hope it stays on the schedule," said Briscoe.
Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon and Justin Wilson rounded out the top-5.
Briscoe's final lap in the hour-long practice was exactly what he needed, moving to the top of the time charts after an exciting session that saw several changes to the leader board in the final minutes. When the checkers fell, it was Briscoe leading teammate Helio Castroneves.
Activities continue here on Saturday with Firestone "Fast Six" knockout qualifying. Sunday's 60-lap race starts at 3:30 p.m. EDT with live television coverage on ABC.
Ryan Briscoe (#6 Team Penske Honda) quickest in practice: "I think we topped the first session [here] last year. I'd like to keep things going the way we had it last year - we ended up with the pole and ran second in the race. I'd just like to see myself in contention for the win. This is my favorite track on the calendar, and it would be pretty special to win here. I really want to improve on what we did in the first four [road-course] rounds in the next five we're starting here."
||Simona de Silvestro
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, first): "I think we topped the first session last year. I'd like to keep things going the way we had it last year. We ended up with pole and ran second in the race. I'd just like to see myself in contention for the win. This is my favorite track on the calendar, and it would be pretty special to win here." (About return to road courses after four consecutive oval races): "I wasn't that happy with my first stint of the season on the road courses. I only got the one podium at St. Pete. I really want to improve on what I did in the first four rounds in the next five here. I know it's a lot different coming off the ovals, but I really want to carry that momentum I got from Texas and Iowa and bring that here to Watkins Glen." (Why is Watkins Glen your favorite track?): "Just the track itself. It's awesome. It's so fast. The corners are just fast. It grips up a lot. This is a track where we can get the most out of these Indy cars, really just get everything out of them they have."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, second): "It's great for Team Penske to start on the right track with the setup. There's still a long way to go. The track is getting better and better, but having a good base and solid setup helps you improve the car with each change. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a good day for us, too, and the car will get better and better."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, third): "We made about three runs, and the car had pretty good speed. I messed up on two of my quick laps, and I think there are two- or three-tenths in it, which puts us right in the ballpark. For a first attempt on the first run, I think both of the Team Target cars are pretty good."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, sixth): "That was a good starting session, although we did not anticipate all the yellow flags. I would have liked to have a few more laps, but we have a good read on the Verizon car and plenty to think about overnight. We are in good shape for tomorrow."
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 HP Luczo Dragon, eighth): "We had a pretty good session today. We found more speed as the session continued. I think there is even more we can do to improve the car, and hopefully we'll continue to build on our progress. The test in Mid-Ohio earlier this week really helped guide us for this track."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic, 13th): "It was good to get back on a road course, but it was weird at first. The steering is straight now, which is good, and we are turning right and left again. It's a different approach, definitely. I needed the first two outings to adapt to road course racing again. Still, I will improve as I get more track time. We had planned to test many different things but were only able to try one of the things but made some improvements. The track is slower than last year, for some reason. It was hard to get a good understanding of how we were doing because of the yellows and the track being slower than last year."
DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing, fourth): "I'm always excited to come to Watkins Glen because it's one of my favorite tracks and certainly my favorite road-course track. I was certainly excited to get here, and we built a lot on what we learned here last year. The National Guard Panther Racing car was really good here last year. We just got caught out a bit on strategy, but the pace of the car during the race was really good. And like I've said, we've just been able to expand upon that, and that's a really good sign for the continuity of the team and coming back to these racetracks for the second time. I'm looking forward to a good weekend."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co. A.J. Foyt Racing, 22nd): "This first session we did a lot of changes but couldn't take advantage fully of the changes because of traffic, but we did understand the changes. So we'll analyze the data tonight to come up with the best solutions. We couldn't put a decent time down, but we went through a lot of things and made improvements for tomorrow."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com, 17th): "I'm having some understeer issues throughout the course, but I think we know what we need to do to get the GoDaddy car up to speed. We'll fine-tune some things tonight and should be on course for tomorrow's practice."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team7-Eleven, ninth): "The session was not as clear as I wanted it to be, so we're going to have to try something different tomorrow with the 7-Eleven car. I'm definitely not as happy as I was hoping to be, but this is only Friday."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD, 12th): "We had a session where we just never really got in sequence. We had lots of traffic and interrupted runs from yellows. We only really did one good run. Then we had to stop early because of a little issue we were concerned about and missed the last 10 minutes when we needed to be on track. Today is definitely not indicative of where we are with the IZOD car, but it's also hard to go to sleep after a session like that. We'll come out tomorrow and be quick, but we would have liked to have gotten more out of this session. We just never got into a rhythm."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy, 11th): "We had some mechanical issues today with the Venom car, so we only got one true run in. But that considered, we don't have a bad baseline car. I think as a team we have some work to do; we're a bit off pace."
ADAM CARROLL (No. 27 Team Boost Mobile, 23rd): "It is my first time here at Watkins Glen. It's a beautiful circuit and reminds me of Spa-Francorchamps in Europe. It's actually a very difficult circuit but very enjoyable. Generally, I didn't push too hard this session. I just went out early to learn the circuit and try to get up to speed. I know what I need to do with the No. 27 Boost Mobile car, and hopefully we can do well in qualifying tomorrow."
E.J. VISO (No. 8 PDVSA-Jet Aviation-KVRT, 14th): "We had a couple of issues that were out of our hands. I got caught in some traffic and didn't get a quick lap. Plus we got our fastest laps at the end of the runs. We have a few things to fine-tune for Saturday. But we have a good direction with the car. I have always liked coming to Watkins Glen. This track reminds me of circuits in Europe with very fast corners. I think we'll be in better shape tomorrow."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 FAZZT Race Team, 21st): "I don't want to judge the results on today, as we will be much better tomorrow. We were trying new things on the car and getting laps for me around the track to get to know it and to get an idea of what I want. There were very few laps for me to get used to the track and to see what the car liked at this track, but that is OK. We have some very good data to look at tonight, and there were a couple of things to modify where we went for it and it didn't work. Another big part is also for me, getting into a rhythm around the track and getting used to the track. Tomorrow should be a much better day, and we will attack it with confidence. It's always good to sleep on it and start again tomorrow. It was a shame the weather kept us from testing here, as that made today our test day. But that's OK; we can manage to recover. We'll have a much better day tomorrow, for sure."
MARIO MORAES (No. 32 KV Racing Technology, 10th): "Overall, the KV Racing Technology team had a good day. The car felt good, but we are still a little behind the leaders. We will change some things tonight and see how that works tomorrow. I feel great to be back on the road courses again and hope we have a good weekend."