2010 Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen – Click above for high-res image gallery
The IndyCar Series
celebrated the Independence Day holiday at the Glen, with the running of the 2010 Camping World Grand Prix in Watkins Glen, New York. This race signaled a return to road courses for the IRL after four oval runs in a row. Heading into Watkins Glen, Penske's Will Power held the overall and road course points leads in the championship standings with Target Chip Ganassi's Scott Dixon in second overall, but first in the oval championship. Dixon had won the last three-in-a-row at Watkins Glen, though, so Power shouldn't have expected to pull ahead of his closest rival too easily after this round of the championship.
Saturday's qualifying showed that Power and his Penske teammates were still the team to beat, Will claiming yet another Peak Performance Pole Position and stablemates Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe qualifying second and third. It set up an interesting Fourth of July race, with Power having a bit of a buffer between him and the other title chasers – not that Helio or Briscoe were going to just hand Will the win.
Follow the jump
to see how the 2010 Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen played out.
[Images: Streeter Lecka, Nick Laham/Getty Images, Mel Evans, David Duprey, David Boe, Douglas Ford Rea, Charles Berch, Russ Hamilton, Michael Rogers/AP]
Power was on pole, giving Penske its sixth pole position in six IRL races at The Glen and its series record tying eighth in a row for the season. Reading down the starting order, fans of IndyCar racing may have been a bit surprised to see a familiar but recently absent name on the grid – former champion Paul Tracy had signed a late deal with the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team and in his first race back he had managed to qualify 12th. Two spots ahead of him on the grid was Adam Carroll, who had caught the attention of Team Andretti's namesake, Michael Andretti, while competing for Ireland in the World Cup of Motorsports and had been signed for a limited schedule in the second half of the 2010 season.
At the start of the race, the field strung out fairly cleanly, with a few close calls and some three-wide action but no contact anywhere through the running order. Power stayed in front but Briscoe and Castroneves swapped spots a couple of times as did several others behind them. It was good, clean racing for the most part until Lap 6 when Helio and Scott Dixon got a little too close for comfort, the former pitting with a flat left rear and the latter sporting an upturned right front wing. Both pitted and were out quickly. The replay seemed to show Scott making his passing move a fraction of a second too soon coming out of a turn and just touching Helio's tire.
The front three of Power, Briscoe and Franchitti were steadily pulling away from the pack, but Sato was moving up, as was Paul Tracy, who had a few fun laps dicing with Kanaan and Ryan Hunter-Reay. RHR had a renewed contract and new sponsorship from Dr. Pepper for this race. Tracy was showing a bit of rust, though, and got the worst of those encounters, nearly taking out a hard-charging Adam Carroll a couple of laps later. Just as the leaders were thinking of having to make their first round of pits under green, the yellow flew on Lap 17 as Dan Wheldon pirouetted following a tap by Alex Lloyd. No real damage but the car had come to rest right in the middle of the track.
The pits opened on Lap 19 and as the cars came back out it was Power in front, followed by Briscoe, Franchitti, Raphael Matos, Mario Moraes, Sato, Kanaan, Marco Andretti, Hideki Mutoh and Carroll in the top ten spots. Check that, that group was now tucked in behind 4 cars that had opted to stay out during the yellow. Scott Dixon was now in the lead, followed by the amazing E.J. Viso, who started the race in last place following a qualifying crash that left him with no posted time. Behind them was Alex Tagliani and Helio Castroneves, who along with Dixon had pitted earlier following their on-track incident.
Mario Romancini had his own little spin a couple of laps later but kept it going. The only news to come out of that moment was that Danica Patrick had to make an evasive maneuver to avoid him, putting two wheels into the dirt but soldiering on with no ill effects. Alex Lloyd lost his steering by the halfway point, making him the race's first casualty. Simona de Silvestro became the second when she lost it and went off into the barrier. She took the blame for it, saying she was just pushing a bit too hard following the earlier yellow.
The ensuing pitstops set the order for the final stint to the checkered flag, with Briscoe out front followed by Power, Franchitti, Matos, Wheldon, Moraes, Kanaan, Andretti, Hunter-Reay, Mutoh, Romancini, Dixon, Castroneves, Justin Wilson, Viso, Carroll, Sato, Tagliani, Patrick, Tracy, Vitor Meira, Bertrand Baguette and the terminally slow Milka Duno, who was three laps down. Wilson timed the restart a bit better and managed to parlay it into a pass for the lead soon after, his teammate settling in behind him with 16 to go.
Two laps later it was Dario Franchitti who got the best of Briscoe, the Scot starting his final charge for the lead. The laps ticked away, but Dario just couldn't reel in Power. Pushing as hard as he could, Franchitti made an uncharacteristic mistake with just a lap to go and Ryan Briscoe took advantage of it to move past into second once more. But Will Power was unchallenged out front, cruising home to his third win of the season and giving Penske its first win in six IRL races at Watkins Glen.
The win extended Power's points lead for the season, with Franchitti moving into second ahead of Dixon, followed by Briscoe and Castroneves. The drivers get a week off before the series heads to Toronto on July 18.