Cheat Sheet: Watkins Glen 2008

Posted by Iannucci | 7/05/2008 | 11 comments »
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The month of short-track racing is behind us now, and we now commence on a very different month for the IndyCar series. With events at Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio, Nashville and Edmonton there is no hesitation in calling this what it is: "Parade Month".

Seriously friends, don't expect too much passing to happen in July as these courses are not exactly known as multi-groove circuits. Just a guess but Edmonton might be the most racy of the bunch since Sebastien Bourdais won't be there...wait, somebody stop me before I go all Champ Car Fanatic here.

The one positive of the Watkins Glen race and the others in "Parade Month" is that there will be at least 26 cars on each track, so at least the possibility of position changes outside of the pits is certainly increased. Attention ESPN: please feel free cut away from Scott Dixon pulling away by 10 seconds and show the passing whenever it may infrequently occur. At these tracks it won't happen all that often, so use your massive technology to help us through this nap-infested month. Please.

Favorite: Scott Dixon. Four words: three-time defending champion. Forecast calls for a regularly schedule Ice storm.

Contender: Justin Wilson. The Cajun Sheff has been waiting patiently until the the first road course event and now he's ready to bust out his crazy mad skillz. Look for Wilson to challenge for the lead early and give McDonalds some quality ROI on Sunday. I guar-on-tee it.

Longshot: Helio Castroneves. Hey, with a 24-race winless streak and starting a career worst P26 he's not favored to do squat. But he did manage to claim the pole position the last three years at The Glen, so with some Penske Perfect pitstops he could advance quite a bit.

Driver to Watch: Ryan Hunter-Reay. The Hunter has been up near the front a lot these last few weeks, just not when the checkered flag flies. Is this the race he finally breaks into the Top 5? Who knows, but for comparison here are career stats in the same car:

Ryan Hunter-Reay:
Starts: 15
Best finish: 6th
Top 10s: 7
Avg finish: 12.33

Jeff Simmons:
Starts: 23
Best finish: 6th
Top 10s: 11
Avg finish: 12.78

Danica Threat Level: DanCon Five. We're down to the lowest level due to her poor qualification (14th) and general lack of competitive speed lately. Oh, and she's racing against a field full of "road course specialists". Lotsa luck, Mrs Hospenthal.

Stat of the race: Buddy Rice has finished in the Top 6 in the last two races at The Glen. For real. Strange things happen on road courses.

Drinking term: "Vision Racing". Ed Carpenter and AJ Foyt IV are starting 21st and 22nd, so they probably won't get a lot of air time. We shall toast them when they do, so long as they are in cars moving in the proper direction.

pressdog says: "Dixon failing to bitchslap the field the last couple races may have emboldened the masses. Let's see, I'm down to Justin Wilson or Will Power. Lots of oval frustration/rage ready to pour out. Despite driving with his knees up by his elbows, I'm calling it for Wilson. Score one for the nice guys."

To be fair everyone here at My Name Is IRL World Headquarters is still hoping for an exciting event, but we've seen Dixon run away and hide often here. Since the race starts just after noon here in Arizona we'll have some coffee left in the pot just in case the race becomes, well, not a race. Stay tuned and enjoy the show!

11 comments

  1. pressdog // July 06, 2008 4:41 AM  

    Jeff is still battling his Champ Car Fever, I see. Amen to focusing back in the pack if the lead is a bitchslapathon.

  2. Doug // July 06, 2008 8:07 AM  

    I think you're being unfair to Helio. He's been fast in practice, and he holds the track record at The Glen. Starting in P26 behind everyone (even Milka!) isn't a preferred position by any stretch, but he's VERY good here and the Penske pit crew is still tops in the league. It won't quite be the slice-and-dice show he gave us in Richmond, but by midway through the race, I expect him to be at least to P5 and still climbing.

  3. Zappatista // July 06, 2008 8:25 AM  

    I would like to bring back the memories of 2006. That year, it was a great race. Most of us only remember Marco getting "cheevered", but if you recall that race, Marco was busting through the field making up spots and seconds on every lap. Could have easily been his first victory before my favorite legend remembered how much he despised the Andretti clan. I think that this race will be highly entertaining with more passing than one may expect going into it...

  4. Demond Sanders // July 06, 2008 10:54 AM  

    That's the advantage of being a bandwagon unification fan. I've haven't seen most of these tracks more than once so it all feels fresh.

    I've been a (very) casual IRL fan since its inception, but this year is the first time I've been excited enough to watch each race as appointment viewing.

  5. Zappatista // July 06, 2008 11:27 AM  

    TK broke his wrist this morning. OUCH. Sucks for him, and if they can't fix the primary...he will be starting with HEEElio in the back. That will be fun.

  6. Jennifer of Dog.Yarn.Knit. // July 06, 2008 12:16 PM  

    With my experience, I know you don't win a race on the first lap. - Helio Castroneves

    I am expecting some excitement today.

  7. Anonymous // July 06, 2008 12:35 PM  

    Is Sam Hornish, Sr., there today?

  8. Anonymous // July 06, 2008 5:26 PM  

    Hurrah!...another new face in Victory Circle!...I would have loved to see Manning win and watch AJ waddle up into the mob of photogs and wannabes. But 2nd ain't too bad. Maybe AJ's buying the steaks tonite?! Great work Hunter AND Darrin (even if ABC thought another interview with "two from down under" was more important than talking to Darrin and AJ...Besides, it was a cut and dry screw-up on Dixon's part...and at least he admitted it...a rookie mistake by someone who definitely ain't.) You're right, Pressdog...more shots deeper into the pack definitely helped.

  9. Anonymous // July 07, 2008 6:03 PM  

    Danica,Danica,danica!! stay home and bake some cookies!!

  10. Bash // July 07, 2008 10:11 PM  

    It was the best pick to make: "Favorite: Scott Dixon. Four words: three-time defending champion. Forecast calls for a regularly schedule Ice storm."

    But all we got there was a brain freeze...

    Nice one, RHR and RLR!

  11. Inspector // July 08, 2008 3:49 PM  

    Good job, Jeff. Your pick was excellent.