|Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to test The Glen on Monday
The recently paved Watkins Glen International circuit will get its biggest critique yet Monday afternoon when several IndyCar drivers and teams are expected to attend a five-hour, Firestone tire test.
The test, in preparation for the Labor Day weekend IndyCar Grand Prix at The Glen, had to apparently be shoehorned into a busy Glen club rental calendar. It takes place from 3-8 p.m.
Drivers expected to test at The Glen on Monday: Scott Dixon, a three-time race winner at WGI and the reigning IndyCar Series champion; Alexander Rossi, the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner; Helio Castroneves, a three-time Indy 500 winner; Simon Pagenaud, the current IndyCar leader; and James Hinchcliffe, who won the Indy 500 pole last month.
The Verizon IndyCar Series event, which runs Sept. 1-4, was a late addition to the WGI calendar. It replaced the Boston Grand Prix after event organizers pulled the plug on the inaugural race in late April after running into too many organizational road blocks.
For Watkins Glen, the event marks the return of America’s top open-wheel series to the track in six years. The Indy Racing League held events there from 2005-2010.
The entire Glen circuit, including the 3.4-mile Grand Prix layout and 2.4-mile NASCAR course, underwent a nearly $12 million repave that was completed in the spring.
A few tire manufacturers and sanctioning bodies have held test sessions to evaluate the new surface characteristics. Among them was Goodyear with several NASCAR Sprint Cup teams last month.
So far, the new Glen surface has received wide praise from the Sprint Cup and IMSA sports car racers who have tested there.
Open-wheel cars, which are light and stiffly sprung, are more sensitive to even the slightest irregularities from a track’s surface. Driver’s from Monday’s IndyCar test (could there be more?) will therefore be able to tell just how smooth the new surface really is.
Of course, we expect to get a stamp of approval and some wide grins from the drivers, especially the ones who raced here last when the track was considered a little bumpy for the IndyCars.
Speeds will surely increase a lot from 2010, not just from the additional grip from the new pavement but the extra aerodynamic downforce from the new Dallaras.
The bigger factor could be a driver’s stamina. How difficult will it be for the drivers to steer an IndyCar through the many fast turns on the 3.4-mile configuration, lap after lap? Matt Levanduski/Star-Gazette