By Amy Konrath
Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. No let-up for points leader Power
2. Inside the stats – Watkins Glen
3. Return to Firestone Indy Lights sweet for Winslow
4. Vote for Tire-ific Move of the Race
1. No let-up for points leader Power: Will Power was having momentary difficulty managing the cumbersome laurel wreath and impressive Cameron Argetsinger Cup in Victory Circle at Watkins Glen International when he heard Penske Racing president Tim Cindric offer some advice – something to the effect of learning how to position the wreath when he got to Victory Circle following the Indianapolis 500.
“I’ll remember that when I get there,” Power said a few hours afterward as he followed tradition — including one of his racing heroes, fellow Australian Jack Brabham — by hanging the wreath behind the bar of the Seneca Lodge in the village. He was startled by the ovation as he entered the restaurant/hotel where auto racing stories flow as freely as the local red.
Power’s victory in the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen – the first by a pole sitter in the six years of the event and the 54th time the pole winner has won in 194 Indy Racing League-sanctioned events – wasn’t as easy as it appeared in the box score.
“It was a satisfying day because it was a hard-fought win,” the Team Penske driver said. “I really had to push, I had to pass, I had to save fuel. I had everything in that race. I had to qualify well.
“It’s funny. You have days where you win races and it’s sort of a luck thing. Then there’s days when you should have won. (This) was just a good race. It’s very satisfying when you fight for it and you got someone on your tail right to the end.”
Power overtook teammate Ryan Briscoe on Lap 44 of 60 and went on to his third victory of the season – the only IZOD IndyCar Series driver with multiple victories through nine of 17 races. He takes as 32-point lead in the championship standings over third-place finisher Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing into the Honda Indy Toronto on July 18.
“That’s not that much (of a margin),” said Power, who also leads the Mario Andretti Road Course Championship standings. “You could have a bad race, somebody wins, you’re back behind again.”
Following the race on the streets of Exhibition Place is the July 25 Honda Indy Edmonton on the bumpy City Centre Airport circuit. The road/street portion of the schedule concludes at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Aug. 8) and Infineon Raceway (Aug. 22) before the closing round of four consecutive oval races.
“I realize you actually have to win races to win the championship,” Power said. “The points spread — that extra 10 points you get for winning – is important. With the guys I’m competing against, it’s really tough. You can’t relax. (Scott) Dixon, Franchitti, Helio (Castroneves), Ryan are all as quick as I am. So you got to win and you can’t make any mistakes.
“It’s a tough championship. I’m really enjoying the competition.”
2. Inside the stats – Watkins Glen: Statistics to note following the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen, the ninth round of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
• It was the fourth career win for Will Power and the 40th IZOD IndyCar Series win for Team Penske, a series record. It was team owner Roger Penske’s first win at Watkins Glen since 1981.
• Will Power leads the race for the Mario Andretti Trophy (Road Championship) by 70 points over Ryan Hunter-Reay.
• Ryan Briscoe finished second at Watkins Glen for the second straight year.
• Raphael Matos matched his best result of the season. He was also fourth at Sao Paulo. Mario Moraes’s fifth place was his best finish of 2010. It was his first top-five result on a road course since Infineon in 2009.
• Tony Kanaan had his worst finish since the 2009 Edmonton race (21st). The Brazilian had finished in the top 11 in every race this season.
•There were seven teams represented in the top-10 finishers for the fifth time in nine races. The seven teams were: Team Penske (Power, Briscoe and Helio Castroneves), Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon), de Ferran Dragon Racing (Matos), KV Racing Technology (Moraes), Panther Racing (Dan Wheldon), Andretti Autosport (Hunter-Reay), Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (Justin Wilson).
3. Return to Firestone Indy Lights sweet for Winslow: James Winslow didn’t win the Corning 100, but a fifth-place finish at Watkins felt like a win to the English rookie.
After more than two months out of the car, Winslow had his best finish in Firestone Indy Lights despite starting from the back of the field due to an engine change after his car’s original engine was damaged when he ran over a curb in qualifying.
“We totally transformed the car for the race,” said Winslow, who last raced at Long Beach in April. “The car was fantastic. Full credit to the team for finding the setup. I found the car more comfortable, and I was able to push. ”
Despite showing the ability to race with the frontrunners in his three previous starts in the No. 77 Focal Point/Sam Schmidt Motosports car, Winslow didn’t have the finishes to match the potential of the car. His best finish prior to The Glen was seventh in the season-opening round at St. Petersburg.
At Watkins Glen, he was able to avoid the problems that plagued him early in the season and was able to put together a complete race, racing from 14th to fifth in the 30-lap event, which was won by his SSM teammate and series points leader J.K. Vernay.
“Towards the end of the race, I was catching (Martin) Plowman for fourth, and I thought there was a potential for a top-four finish, but Charlie Kimball got around me even though he was a few lap down and slowed me up and kept me from passing his teammate,” Winslow said. “It’s really frustrating, but that’s racing, and I’m very happy with fifth place.”
Winslow was quick to credit his crew, which went to Victory Lane at the Firestone Freedom 100 with Wade Cunningham earlier this year. He appreciated their ability to fix the issues he had with the car and improve it for the race and hopes to reward the crew with more top finishes.
“To come from being really slow to being top-four, top-three pace in the race gives me massive confidence for the next races,” he said. “Now we have a confident team and a confident driver. Hopefully we can build on this and be on the podium the next race.”
4. Vote for Tire-ific Move of the Race: Fans select the Firestone Tire-ific Move of the Race winner by voting on indycar.com after every race. This $10,000 prize is awarded to the driver best utilizing his or her Firestone tires to make a bold, dramatic move during the event.
Nominees for the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen are: Will Power for his Lap 44 pass of Ryan Briscoe to secure the win; Raphael Matos for his fourth-place finish despite telemetry problems; Dan Wheldon, who recovered from being spun on track to finish sixth.
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues July 18 with the Honda Indy Toronto at the Streets of Toronto. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 12:30 p.m. (ET) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 212. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Grand Prix of Toronto on July18 at the Streets of Toronto