LiveBlog: Watkins Glen 2009

Posted by Iannucci | 7/05/2009 | 31 comments »
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Welcome to Wimbledon, where Andy Roddick and Roger Federer are locked in possibly the most epic tennis match in history. Do I like tennis? No. Does it matter? Hell no! Even I know that when were in the fifth set and it's 11-11 it's something worth watching.

Maybe this is what the IndyCar series is missing: a personal battle between 2 particular combatants, going at a record-setting pace. Maybe if Helio and Dixon each get over 20 wins and keep trying to best the other on the all-time list it might be a semblance of this tennis match I and probably many of you are watching. 12-11 Federer.

Meanwhile the IndyCar series travels to Watkins Glen for a road course event after a series of dismal oval events. I don't know if there will be more passing, but there can't be any LESS overtaking than we've seen the last month or so. Aside from the first few laps at Iowa it's been a slog for fans. Roddick equalizes at 12-12.

Alright, I owe it to the tens of My Name Is IRL readers to to switch over to the IndyCar race. But it's a bitter sweet decision because as much as I look forward to any IRL race I know history when I see. Federer retakes the advantage at 13-12.

But at Watkins Glen, it's time to start.

0: Ryan Hunter-Reay, as defending champion here, is getting lots of pre-race airtime. I don't remember the last time I saw an AJ Foyt driver get so much time on camera. Might have been AJ Foyt himself. Twitter followers inform me "Roddick in trouble in his service game but held for 13-13".

0: Change up in some color schemes today. Dario is in a fetching black Polaroid livery and Dan Wheldon has returned to camouflage. It's slightly different than the camo scheme he had at Indy this year. More stripes so it looks like an older military scheme. Meanwhile, 14-14 at Wimbledon.

0: Am I the only person who gets annoyed that Scott Goodyear and Marty Reid both keep saying Dario like it rhymes with "stereo"? Maybe I'm just sensetive at how often my name keeps

0: Front row is Briscoe and Justin Wilson. Dale Coyne car may get actual airtime today. 15-14 Federer.

1: And we are Green with possibly the best start to an IndyCar race in years.

1: Carbon fiber is in the air as Hunter-Reay is shown driving with a bent front right tire. How did that happen? No video, so we'll have to wait for the press release.

2: Wilson is trying to get around Briscoe but Ryan is "defending" all over the track.

3: Finally get a replay of the RHR accident and it looks like he got into the back of Rafa Matos, sending Matos spinning. Presumably Matos recovered because he's still racing.

3: Wilson finally gets around Briscoe, making the top 5 Justin, Ryan, Moraes, Dixon, Conway. Conway? Yes, Conway.

4: Federer finally breaks Roddick's serve and wins 16-14.

5: Marco has slowed and appears to have a flat tire. Viso tried to dive bomb him in a turn but only got his front wing next to Marco, clipping Andretti's right-rear tire.

7: Marco gets his tires changed but comes back out right in front of the leaders. Marco battles to stay on the lead lap but in half a lap gets passed by Wilson and Briscoe. Thank you all for not wrecking.

9: Rahal pits off sequence. This brings my extremely distant cousin, Richard Antinucci, is up to 14th in his IndyCar series debut.

13: Judging from the scoring it appears drivers are changing position but I an't seeing any of it. I guess we'll have to wait for pits stops.

14: Marty Reid sees Paul Tracy making a pit stop and asks "Did they put fuel in?" Is he trying to direct the audience or is he just dense?

17: Wilson leads Briscoe by less than a second, but Moraes in third by over 8 seconds. Dixon in fourth 12 seconds back.

18: After that early spin Matos has worked up to 10th.

18: Wilson pits, surrendering the lead to Briscoe. Danica and Helio pit as well.

19: YELLOW! My cousin Richard is stalled on the track. Briscoe can't make a full pit stop with the pits closed buyt he has to come in for a splash and go. He'll lose a position if the other leaders don't pit under this yellow. Moraes now leads

20: Dario, Dixon, Kanaan, Briscoe, Moraes and others all pit and fall back.

22: Still eallow. More commercials. No idea who's leading. I thought Wilson would cycle to the lead on the pit stops but it appears ABC is listing Briscoe as still leading.

23: I was right. Wilson, Conway, Rahal, Mutoh, Helio are the leaders. Back to green and Rahal quickly zooms past Conway and up to second.

23: Yellow! Dario in the kitty litter in the bus stop. Locked it up and did a little half spin into the sand.

23: Replay shows Mario Jonas Moraes running up into Ed Carpenter going through the same turn. Much bouncing and bumping like a couple of teenagers on the dance floor. No parts flying off but either car could be damaged.

25: Rahal pits to change tires. He's off on his own pitting sequence today.

25: Moraes will get a drive-thru penalty for aggressive driving. He has to go to McDonalds and get a Big Mac and fries for the IHJ.

26: Back to green. Wilson, Conway, Mutoh, Helio, Wheldon. In the last few weeks Mutoh has clearly become the stallion of the AGR stable.

28: Wheldon around Helio for fourth. Is it me or is Dan doing better on non-ovals this year despite moving from Ganassi to Panther?

29: Moraes is back in the pits so something might have been damaged after his incident with Ed. Not shocking. Meanwhile Viso and Paul Tracy are battling for some-teenth position.

31: YELLOW as Paul Tracy is backed into some armco. Replay shows he just lost the rear grip and spun it exiting a turn. Not Viso's fault.

32: Don't look now but Marco appears to be back on the lead lap in P14. I have no idea how, but there it is.

32: Graham Rahal is complaining that his teammate Robert Doornbos is blocking him and nearly put him in the grass. Not feeling the love.

33: With all of these extended yellows the leaders will likely only need one more stop to finish the race. Bully for Justin Wilson.

34: Back to green. 15 cars on the lead lap.

35: Interview with Paul Tracy who busts the deep line "We were hoping for some yellows but I ended up being one of them." Admits fault, which seems to be a rarity these days. We'll see him racing next week in Toronto.

37: Justin Wilson is still in first. Mike Conway is still in second. Graham Rahal is still behind his beloved teammate. No one passing anyone, so it smells a lot like the pungent odor of fuel conservation.

40: Wilson and Conway pit. Helio inherits the lead. Drama as the race appears to be down to the Coyne and D&R crews. Wilson out in front on the red (faster) tires. 20 laps to glory for Dale Coyne.

41: Helio pits, and on exit the camera switches BEFORE WE SEE IF HE CAME OUT IN FRONT OF WILSON!!!! AAAAARGH!!!!

42: Briscoe pits, and I think Wheldon did as well. Dixon is now the leader, conserving fuel all over the course. Pretty sure he can't go another 18 laps.

44: Dixon pits. Comes out behind Wilson. Marco is leading now.

45: Marco pits. Leaders are now: Wilson, Briscoe, Dixon, Helio, Conway.

47: In case you did not know, Wilson's Dale Coyne team has never won an IndyCar race. I don't think they've ever won anything. Not even an office pool.

48: The broadcast is now showing an in-car camera of Danica's feet. Got to give Danica her requisite coverage.

50: 10 laps to go. Wilson hanging on with Briscoe, Dixon, Helio right behind him.

52: YELLOW as Mutoh appears to have wrecked in the same spot and manner as Paul Tracy did earlier. Remember how Briscoe inhaled Wilson on the last restart at St Pete? I really don't need to see that again.

54: Back to green and Wilson is ON IT! No passing in the first turn this time. Go Justin Go!

55: Wilson is driving like a man possessed, leading by around a full second over those red cars.

56: This is turning into an annihilation. Wilson is taking a Dale Coyne and expanding the lead to three seconds. He's not even in the camera frame for the cars behind him.

57: It will take an act of Satan to prevent Justin from winning.

58: Lead is around 5 seconds. Years ago one of Justin's teams nicknamed him "Bad Ass". I think that accurately describes his performance today.

59: White flag for Wilson. The only question now is if Jack Arute will make Dale Coyne cry in a post-race interview.

60: Checkered flag for Justin Wilson and Dale Coyne Racing! Check the health of your first born.

Justin's pit crew erupts in celebration hanging on the pit wall. Brienne Pedigo asks Dale how it feels to get his first win. "It took too long."

Elsewhere Ryan Briscoe finishes second like he has so many times this year. Dixon third. Helio fourth. Marco Andretti appears to have gotten around Mike Conway for fifth. Nice recovery from being a lap down after suffering a cut tire early in the race.

Well, that's it from Watkins Glen. Someone has finally broken up the reign of terror of the Big Two, and it turns out to be the last guy to win a race not driving for Penske or Ganassi: Justin Wilson. I still can't believe a Dale Coyne car won, and in dominating fashion no less. There's nothing real in the world anymore.

Congrats to Justin Wilson on a remarkable performance today, slaying the monotony of '09. Thank you very much, folks, and good night!


  1. JE Clerk // July 05, 2009 10:35 AM  

    How can anyone NOT feel for RHR this year. I'm going to start calling him Charlie Brown.

  2. Simon // July 05, 2009 10:42 AM  

    Marco is some kind of menace to everyone on the lead lap! Where are the blue flags?

  3. klthrock // July 05, 2009 10:44 AM  

    I agree with JE Clerk... RHR has caught some TOUGH breaks... poor guy. Hope he gets a ride next year!!!

  4. EnsErmac // July 05, 2009 11:24 AM  

    ABC's coverage of this race is pathetic. I can't wait until it goes back to versus.

  5. JE Clerk // July 05, 2009 11:38 AM  

    Mutoh and his team are jelling lately... wow

  6. Tom G. // July 05, 2009 11:58 AM  

    Are Marty & Goodyear even watching the race?

    Is anyone in the truck even paying attention?

    They completely missed Weldon passing Castroneves, paid not attention to see where Helio cycled back from his pit stop, and seemed oblivious during that whole green flag pit sequence. It took them about 2 laps to realize that Conway dropped from 2nd to 5th.

    Bring back Vs.

  7. Tom G. // July 05, 2009 12:04 PM  

    Please God. let Wilson win!

  8. Will Overhead // July 05, 2009 12:04 PM  

    Mutoh says nandesuka

  9. Demond Sanders // July 05, 2009 12:13 PM  

    WWWWWWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOOO> Best moment of 2009. And it is not remotely close.

  10. Tom G. // July 05, 2009 12:17 PM  

    Yeah baby!

    The good guys finaly win one!

  11. Filipe // July 05, 2009 12:24 PM  

    If we had got a replay of St Pete final restart I would had officially start to root to Formula Dream to drop Mutoh and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be alone.

  12. Filipe // July 05, 2009 12:25 PM  

    Finest moment of the season by far.

  13. Anonymous // July 05, 2009 12:33 PM  

    Congrats to Dale Coyne and Wilson, it did my heart good that Penske couldn't catch up.

  14. Mike R // July 05, 2009 12:45 PM  

    Sweet. Beyond words, sweet. So many years of trying, fighting to make it in the 'big teams' world. Coupled with what a genuinely nice guy Justin Wilson is, it would just be nearly impossible for this to get any better.

  15. Simon // July 05, 2009 12:48 PM  

    Great win for Wilson and you've got to be happy for Dale Coyne.

    My wife's comment: "So they penalize Moraes for bumping Carpenter, who kept going, in a racing incident, but they let Marco block the leaders?"

  16. Anonymous // July 05, 2009 1:21 PM  

    At least it wasn't the "usuals" w/ the first place trophy...but, still, another pretty boring IRL race. I pray to God that the new changes will make some kind of a difference. I know you all hate the word NASCAR...oh, God!...I said it! I will fer sure rot in hell...but last nitght's race was a helluva lot more exciting...sorry!

  17. Mike R // July 05, 2009 1:37 PM  

    I saw nothing wrong with this race in terms of excitment. It's not a Hollywood production, it's a race. Passes for the lead, contests shown through the field for position and with drivers trying to hang onto the lead lap. I thought it was fine.

  18. Dave Cornutt // July 05, 2009 5:17 PM  

    Nice job Justin and Dale Coyne!

  19. The American Mutt // July 05, 2009 5:28 PM  

    Is it just me or does Dixon have a habit of overbraking when something goes on in front of him and crashing people behind him? Darios spin was entirely his fault, just like the big one at Richmond last year was as well.

    In other news. That was as good as it gets on the roads, and I for one am happy it turned out as it did. I'm thinking if Danica goes, AGR could use a class act of Wilsons caliber.

  20. Scott // July 05, 2009 8:30 PM  

    Nascar has the gopher cam... now Indycar has the beaver cam!

    I'm not sure why there would be a call for a penalty for Marco when he was fighting to hold onto track position when he was down a lap. He certainly didn't block any worse than Brisco did when he was trying to keep the lead at the start. You can't have a different standard for a guy simply because he is not on the lead lap... especially if he is off strategy as Marco was at the time.

    The real question is why was Viso not penalized? Apparently the steel hammer strikes a more fierce blow when the son of the man of vision is involved.

  21. Filipe // July 06, 2009 1:22 AM  

    Scott, a backmaker is not suppose to block at all. If he doesn't get the speed (and Marco was off pace at that point) one should just let the leaders lap him, instead he actually touch wheel with Wilson (if Milka had done that people would ask for her head).

    Both Mario and Viso did stupid moves that would still qualify as racing incidents, but Viso had to pit and drop lot of positions (Marco of course got hurt even more) so he did grt punished for his own mistake, I suspect that had Mario came in as soon as pits were open to get a look at his suspension, race control might have been more merciful. There were some lack of consistence for sure, but I do prefer race control to avoid punishments and let the guys race (unless someone was clear trying to wreck other cars).

  22. Scott // July 06, 2009 4:47 AM  

    Marco was not a backmarker. He was barely down a lap with a full tank and tires that were just coming up to temp while the leaders were rapidly approaching their first pit window. His only job was to hold on to enough position so that when they pit he could pull out a 10+ second gap on the leader and hold on until a caution.

    The fact that he got back up to a top five by later passing one of those cars in that lead pack for position pretty well proves he was not a back marker.

  23. redd // July 06, 2009 5:41 AM  

    Best race of the year so far. The IRL seems to be watchable and somewhat competitive on the road and street courses.

    And this from an oval guy.

    Now--hopefully--these new aero trim options will help the oval racing.

    I was encouraged by the Barnhart state of the union. so we'll see.

  24. Simon // July 06, 2009 8:16 AM  

    Scott, backmarker isn't an epithet that a driver is stuck with. It's just used to describe someone who's going to go (or has already gone) a lap down. Agreed, Marco was only there because of the flat tire after Viso got into him. BUT:

    1) He had to have been told on the radio that the leaders were coming up on him.
    2) He was clearly shown a blue flag at least once.
    3) He was blatantly blocking and nearly took out both Wilson and Briscoe on the back stretch.

    You absolutely CAN have a different standard for those not on the lead lap. That's what blue flags are for. Blocking the leaders can have as dire consequences on a road course as on an oval.

  25. Anonymous // July 06, 2009 2:14 PM  

    Hazaa! The evil road-course provides the best race in months. Boo hoo hoo!

  26. Leigh // July 06, 2009 6:15 PM  

    Thoroughly enjoyed that race - there was lots of passing and close racing too.

    Can't wait for Toronto!!

  27. Leigh // July 06, 2009 6:16 PM  

    ...oh and by the way, I must admit the ABC coverage was very weak and Marty Reid and Scott Goodyear should never be allowed in the commentary booth ever again

  28. Scott // July 07, 2009 5:18 AM  

    Simon, your notion that racing can only take place among drivers on the lead lap is the most ignorant premise I have ever heard.

    Race control ordering Marco out of the way at that point would be like ordering a car out of the way at Lemans when it goes one lap down with 18 hours remaining!

    What kills me is that Marco is the only driver in the series that has made more than one pass for a top five position in the last 50 laps of any race this year and you wanted to see him knocked out before the leaders even made their first pit stop. Do you know how many races have even had an on track pass for a top five position in the last fifty laps this season? You don't need a thumb to count them on one hand!

  29. The SpeedGeek // July 07, 2009 6:17 AM  

    Scott, you basically proved your own point with your middle paragraph. If a leader came up on another car at Le Mans, regardless of the time left in the race, the car that is about to get put a lap down would get shown a blue flag, and he would have to comply by pulling over and letting the leader(s) by. If he didn't he would be subject to a penalty for impeding the race being run by the leaders. That's how road racing works. Always has, always will. You can look in the rule book of any series that runs road courses, anywhere in the world. The fact that Marco has been one of the only guys who's been capable of making passes this year has nothing to do with anything in this situation. If he was shown blue flags for more than two consecutive corner stations (and I'm willing to bet that he was) and still didn't pull over, he should have been subject to a penalty. It should be the same for all drivers, but unfortunately for the IRL, it doesn't always appear to be.

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  31. IndyCarGirl // July 09, 2009 10:52 PM  

    Yes, I would like all the broadcast people to learn the correct pronunciation of drivers' names. Dario has been around for many many years and they still call him Dare-io. And they call James Davison, James Davidson.