Two races in one day poses unique challenge

A standard doubleheader weekend on a road course is a test for most Firestone Indy Lights drivers and teams. What limited track time there is, is usually spent trying to perfect the car for the races and there is little margin for error.

This weekend's Corning Duels at Watkins Glen International may be more like a trial by fire as the scheduled is compressed into two days. The future stars of the IndyCar Series racing will race twice on July 5 on the 11-turn, 3.4-mile road course. The goal for most drivers may be to survive the first race, but finish up front so you have a chance in the second.

"I expect the races to be quite challenging," said Team E driver Bobby Wilson, who won at Watkins Glen in 2006. "You have to make it through Race 1 so you can make it to Race 2. If something bad happens, you're going to be sitting out. It's a crucial point in the season. It's an area where you can make big gains, but you could also have some big losses."

Big losses are what most drivers will be trying to avoid during the twin 29-lap races. With 56 points separating the top-five drivers in the point standings, the races could go a long way in determining which driver will see their name inscribed on Firestone Firehawk Cup as the series champion.

"It's going to come down to how quickly you can get a feel out what everyone else is doing," said RLR/Andersen Racing's J.R. Hildebrand, who trails points leader Dillon Battistini by 40 points. "You can't afford to lose points in the first race just to make sure you're going to be there for the second race. I have every bit of confidence in the guys on the crew and myself that we can put together a good package and be battling for the win in both races.

"As competitive as this series has been so far, I don't think anyone is going to be holding back in the first race just because we have another one in a couple of hours."

And competitive is what most drivers expect the races to be, though the aggression level may be turned down a notch. Smart driving and patience may be the key to success this weekend over outright speed.

"The cars are very difficult to setup for all conditions, so you need to get a good balance to be strong for both races," said James Davison, who drives for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. "I think the big thing will be if you're running fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth. Not knowing where the grid will be reversed, you may have to play it safe and not try anything stupid."

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