“Prix-Viewing” the IndyCar Grand Prix at the Glen

Photo Credit: sports.usatoday.com

The 15th race out of 16 scheduled races of the 2016 Verizon Indycar Series calendar brings us to Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York on Sunday, September 4th. The indycars will race 60 laps around the 11-turn 3.40-mile natural terrain road course. This weekend’s race at Watkins Glen was not initially scheduled for the Verizon IndyCar Series to start the season, but was added back in May when it was announced that the race around the streets of Boston had been canceled in late April. This weekend’s race will also mark the first time that the series has raced at Watkins Glen since 2010, when Will Power won that race.

Simon Pagenaud leads the Verizon IndyCar Series points championship by 28 points over Will Power. Power had to sit out of the season opener at St. Petersburg with concussion-like symptoms, a race that started a streak of 5 consecutive top 2 finishes for Pagenaud, including 3 wins. Power was on a streak of 6 consecutive top 2 finishes, including 4 victories, until he finished in 8th place last weekend at Texas. Pagenaud, however, has won since his streak ended, winning last race at Mid-Ohio, while Power did not win at all during Pagenaud’s streak of top 2 finishes.

Race winners from this season are Simon Pagenaud, who won at Long Beach, Barber, Indianapolis, and Mid-Ohio, Will Power, who won at the 2nd Detroit race, Road America, Toronto, and Pocono, Josef Newgarden, who won at Iowa, Scott Dixon, who won at Phoenix, Graham Rahal, who won at Texas, Alexander Rossi, who won the Indianapolis 500,  Juan Pablo Montoya, who won at St. Petersburg, and Sebastien Bourdais, who won at the 1st Detroit race. Those drivers sit 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 12th, 13th, and 14th in the championship standings, respectively.

Former winners of the Watkins Glen race from past years in this year’s field include Scott Dixon (2005, 2006, and 2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), and Will Power (2010).

Also of note is the Chevrolet vs. Honda battle. Drivers of the Honda-powered cars have seemed to race slightly better than they’ve qualified so far this year, but have only won 2 of the 14 races thus far this season, with those 2 victories being claimed by Alexander Rossi at the Indianapolis 500 and Graham Rahal at the Firestone 600. James Hinchcliffe, also driving a Honda-powered car, took the pole for the Indianapolis 500 as well. That pole position was Honda’s first in 31 races, and the drivers of the Honda-powered cars have since added 2 more pole positions this season with pole positions by Carlos Munoz at Texas and Mikhail Aleshin Pocono.

So far this season, drivers of the Honda-powered cars have done well, but not fantastic, at pretty much every track, but have been seemingly equal to if not better than the drivers of the Chevrolet-powered cars on the superspeedways (took the pole and the win at Indianapolis, took the pole and were running 1st, 2nd, and 3rd at Texas before the race was suspended, eventually took the top 2 finishing spots at Texas, and took the pole and 2 of the top 3 finishing positions at Pocono). The road course Chevrolet/Honda split has been pretty even as well this season. However, drivers of the Chevrolet-powered cars have won all 4 races on road courses this season, despite drivers of the Honda-powered cars being in contention for the victory in all of them.

Drivers To Watch For (with Engine/Aero Kit Manufacturer):

The Obvious:

  • Scott Dixon (Chevrolet): Dixon won at Watkins Glen in 2005, 2006, and 2007.
  • Will Power (Chevrolet): Power won at Watkins Glen in 2010.
  • Tony Kanaan (Chevrolet): Kanaan’s best finish at Watkins Glen is 2nd place, which was in 2005.
  • Helio Castroneves (Chevrolet): Castroneves’ best finish at Watkins Glen is 4th place, which was in 2009.
  • Simon Pagenaud (Chevrolet): Pagenaud has never raced at Watkins Glen.
  • Sebastien Bourdais (Chevrolet): Bourdais has never raced at Watkins Glen.
  • Josef Newgarden (Chevrolet): Newgarden has never raced at Watkins Glen.

Less Obvious:

  • Ryan Hunter-Reay (Honda): Hunter-Reay won at Watkins Glen in 2008.
  • Graham Rahal (Honda): Rahal’s best finish at Watkins Glen is 8th place, which was in 2008.
  • James Hinchcliffe (Honda): Hinchcliffe has never raced at Watkins Glen.
  • Carlos Munoz (Honda): Munoz has never raced at Watkins Glen.
  • Juan Pablo Montoya (Chevrolet): Montoya has never raced at Watkins Glen.

Sleepers:

  • Marco Andretti (Honda): Andretti’s best finish at Watkins Glen is 5th place, which was in 2007, 2008, and 2009.
  • Takuma Sato (Honda): Sato’s best finish and only finish at Watkins Glen is 15th place, which was in 2010.
  • Mikhail Aleshin (Honda): Aleshin has never raced at Watkins Glen.
  • Charlie Kimball (Chevrolet): Kimball has never raced at Watkins Glen.
  • Alexander Rossi (Honda): Rossi has never raced at Watkins Glen.

Other notables:

  • Conor Daly (Honda): Daly has never raced at Watkins Glen.
  • Spencer Pigot (Chevrolet): Pigot has never raced at Watkins Glen.
  • RC Enerson (Honda): Enerson has never raced at Watkins Glen.
  • Max Chilton (Chevrolet): Chilton has never raced at Watkins Glen.
  • Jack Hawksworth (Honda): Hawksworth has never raced at Watkins Glen.

-Asher Fair