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IndyCar Open Wheel

2017 Grand Prix at The Glen Preview

Momentum?  We are down to two more races for the season.  Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden currently tops the standings, but his lead is not insurmountable. It seems likely that a Penske driver will take the championship, unless Scott Dixon does.

Look Out For?  Speaking of Dixon, he has won at Watkins Glen four times, so it seems he is the one to watch.  Other former winners who will compete this weekend are Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Sentimental Favorite?  None at present.

Challenges?  As with most natural terrain road courses, the length of the long course, which is about 3.5 miles, can make it very dicey if the car runs into trouble. It can be an extensive trip back to the pits.

Quotes:

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “Watkins Glen is a beautiful track. It has great history in Indy car (racing). It has lots of grip which makes it very interesting and very fast. We had a good car there last year and I’m excited to return. We had a good test there earlier and found a little pace in the car. The championship battle continues to be close and how we come out of Watkins Glen will certainly set the stage for Sonoma. The one thing I know, for sure, is that the Menards Chevrolet team will show up ready to go. I don’t think anything changes from what we’ve done all season. We’ll keep our heads down and continue to work.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m so pumped to head to Watkins Glen. After winning at Gateway and continuing to lead Verizon IndyCar Series points, the whole No. 2 Devilbiss Chevy team and I are really ready to get back on track. We’ve done well on road courses this season, so we definitely think we’ll have something for the competition. I also finished second there last year. But we know that as we get closer to Sonoma, the competition will be working hard to bring their best car just like us. It’s exciting to have my teammates also battling for the championship, too, so it just makes it even more of a challenge but we are ready for it. Watkins Glen is a really fun track with an equally fun crowd so it’s definitely an event I’m looking forward to.”

CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Obviously coming off St. Louis, we all are feeling good and I’m just excited to get back to work. Watkins Glen is one of the best tracks on the schedule and it provides some incredible speeds/racing. The aim for the weekend is just to continue developing our car setup and finding speed one tenth of a second (or more) at a time. Hopefully we can find ourselves in the top five again by the end of the weekend.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 UNIFIN Honda): “Watkins Glen is a track that I really enjoy and that I’ve done very well at. I was competitive last year, but I had an interesting day with a spin at the start, but I came back surging at the end. Hopefully our car will be like it was at the Indy road course and Mid-Ohio, when I tested, and places like that because I think we can definitely do pretty well. Hopefully that will be the case and we can get the No. 18 car up front. It’s a track that is very physically difficult. It’s very, very high G’s with high-speed corners, but it’s a very interesting and exhilarating challenge as well, so when you get a good lap there, it’s very satisfying. I’m looking forward to it.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): “I think no one has ever said that Watkins Glen is an un-favorite track. We all love it! This awesome track has a beautiful series of flowing, high-speed corners with great elevation changes, and overtaking is very possible. It’s just a fantastic road course. We had a productive test a couple of weeks ago, and I feel very positive for this coming weekend. We have been showing great speed but some unfortunate events have cost us results in the last two races. I am very hungry to have a strong finish this weekend.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda): “We didn’t have a strong performance at Gateway, so we’re looking for a bit of a rebound this weekend in Watkins Glen. It’s almost like another home track for me, not being very far from Pennsylvania, so we will have a lot of support and UFD will be back on the No. 27 car. With the current aero kits, the track is super-fast and very physical, we’ve been working hard and training to be ready.”

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By Lisa Davidson

Lisa Davidson is a graduate of the University of Arizona and spent her corporate career as a Controller. She is a lifelong writer who has been covering open wheel racing since 2000 and is the author of historical articles and co-author of one book She and her husband, photographer Jeff Davidson, have two daughters and make their home in Murrieta, CA.