Nothing screams democracy and freedom louder than 25-plus 3.5-litre V8 Honda engines at Watkins Glen in upstate New York. The 4th of July celebrations across the United States will be in full force as the IndyCar Series heads to the picturesque racetrack.
In great form at the moment are the Ganassi boys. Only a gearbox failure so close to the finish robbed Dario Franchitti of victory at Iowa two weeks ago. Scott Dixon has won this race three times in a row from 2005, and came very close to a fourth consecutive win in 2008. Team Penske and the revitalised Andretti Autosports team will be out to stop another Ganassi win.
Speaking of Andretti, they will be fielding five cars at The Glen in 2010. Ryan Hunter- Reay, still performing race-by-race as sponsorship dollars permit, will be back, along with regulars Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick, Tony Kanaan and joined by former Honda Formula 1 test driver Adam Carroll for this race and for Mid-Ohio.
With such a wide variety of corners, setting up a car for The Glen is a tricky challenge. The fast, sweeping curves after Turn 1 are a pleasure to watch cars proceeding through at full-throttle, precede a great mixture of fast corners, and the occasional slow hairpin to encourage overtaking. A really quick lap makes for heart-in-the-mouth viewing, however with large run-off areas and strong barriers, driver safety isn’t compromised.
Dale Coyne will have fond memories of the 2009 race, as after 25 years of trying, Justin Wilson took a Coyne car to victory lane for the very first time. To say there was a dry eye in the house would be a lie. It was a richly deserved victory for everybody involved in that team after years of coming so close on many occasions. For 2010, Wilson has departed for rivals Dreyer & Reinbold – equally capable of producing a winning performance – while Coyne will this year try for a repeat with charging Brit Alex Lloyd.
Penske can never be ruled out though. They have dominated the road courses in 2010, winning the first three races of the year in Sao Paulo, St Petersburg and Barber Motorsports Park. Will Power, while improving quickly on the ovals, is no doubt a specialist road-racer, and will be hard to beat again. My tip for the race – bet on a Ganassi victory. Both drivers will want to boost their road-course performances this year, having already been so competitive on the four ovals so far, winning twice. As always, make sure you’re comfortable for this one. It will be edge-of-the-seat stuff.
[Original images via AUTOSPORT]