Dixon continues torrid pace at Watkins Glen practice

Updated: 

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Three-time Watkins Glen race winner Scott Dixon turned heads when he led first practice today for the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen presented by Hitachi. The Kiwi’s performance in the afternoon practice affirmed his dominance on the 3.37-mile permanent road course, when he posted a fast lap of an astounding 1 minute, 22.8740 seconds (146.391 mph).

The quick lap for Dixon in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet was more than five seconds better than the official track record of 1:28.1332 set by Ryan Briscoe in 2009. The entire field, in fact, was under than the official record, which is expected to fall in Saturday’s Verizon P1 Award qualifying.

“I think the car rolled off really strong,” said Dixon, the defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion. “All in all, I think all the Ganassi cars have been very quick. (Teammate Tony Kanaan) already is in fourth, but he'll be right by me, and same with Max (Chilton) and Charlie (Kimball). The team has done a great job coming here and hopefully we can use that to our advantage.”

CLICK HERE: Practice 2 resultsCombined practice results

Dixon was followed on the combined practice speed chart by Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet, 1:23.0327) and Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet, 1:23.0717), Kanaan (No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet, 1:23.1692) and Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet, 1:23.3646).

The session featured three red-flag interruptions, with Takuma Sato (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda) bringing out the first early in the session when he ran out of fuel on track and Josef Newgarden (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka/ECR Chevrolet) the second when he stopped on course with a cut tire.

The session ended a few seconds prematurely when Kanaan and championship leader Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprises Team Penske Chevrolet) went off course in separate incidents in Turns 6 and 7, respectively. Kanaan avoided the barrier in his spin, but Pagenaud suffered damage to the left front of his car when he hit the tires. Pagenaud walked away from the incident.

A recent repave of the 3.37-mile circuit makes Watkins Glen International faster than it has ever been. Drivers have been lauding the sensation of speeding around the track with lap averages above 145 mph.

“The (G-force) loading is through the roof,” said Dixon. “There's no real time that you get to rest … It's a lot of fun. Love being back here at The Glen. I was super excited when they announced this race and I know with the Verizon IndyCar Series and everybody involved, we can definitely make this a fantastic race for the future, and hopefully we can build on it.”

Castroneves, a three-time Watkins Glen pole sitter, agreed that the repaved circuit is a thrill to drive.

“It's like an amazing experience,” the 41-year-old Brazilian said, “and what a lot of fun this place is. It's unbelievable … The car looks good, the Hitachi car. We are very, very slowly but steady working in the car.

“Since this track is so much smoother compared to what it used to be in the past, there was so much details not only in the setup, (but) the driving and the grip. Every time, the Firestone tires, you put on new tires, the track changed.”

Preparations for Sunday’s 60-lap race continue Saturday with practice at 11 a.m. ET and qualifying at 3 p.m. Both will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com. A tape-delayed telecast of Verizon P1 Award qualifying can be seen on NBCSN at 6 p.m. ET.

Coverage of the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen presented by Hitachi begins at 2 p.m. ET Sunday and can be found on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Practice 2 results are below:

Rank

Car

Driver Name

C/A/E/T

Time

Speed

Diff

Gap

Best Lap

Total Laps

1

9

Dixon, Scott

D/C/C/F

01:22.8740

146.391

--.----

--.----

29

29

2

3

Castroneves, Helio

D/C/C/F

01:23.0327

146.111

0.1587

0.1587

36

36

3

12

Power, Will

D/C/C/F

01:23.0717

146.043

0.1977

0.0390

28

32

4

10

Kanaan, Tony

D/C/C/F

01:23.1692

145.871

0.2952

0.0975

36

36

5

2

Montoya, Juan Pablo

D/C/C/F

01:23.3646

145.529

0.4906

0.1954

21

24

6

41

Hawksworth, Jack

D/H/H/F

01:23.4463

145.387

0.5723

0.0817

26

33

7

15

Rahal, Graham

D/H/H/F

01:23.5963

145.126

0.7223

0.1500

31

36

8

21

Newgarden, Josef

D/C/C/F

01:23.6279

145.071

0.7539

0.0316

37

39

9

11

Bourdais, Sebastien

D/C/C/F

01:23.6582

145.019

0.7842

0.0303

29

33

10

8

Chilton, Max (R)

D/C/C/F

01:23.7107

144.928

0.8367

0.0525

34

38

11

22

Pagenaud, Simon

D/C/C/F

01:23.7470

144.865

0.8730

0.0363

13

29

12

14

Sato, Takuma

D/H/H/F

01:23.7894

144.792

0.9154

0.0424

36

36

13

20

Pigot, Spencer (R)

D/C/C/F

01:23.8604

144.669

0.9864

0.0710

38

38

14

7

Aleshin, Mikhail

D/H/H/F

01:23.9543

144.507

1.0803

0.0939

26

33

15

98

Rossi, Alexander (R)

D/H/H/F

01:24.0663

144.315

1.1923

0.1120

20

26

16

26

Munoz, Carlos

D/H/H/F

01:24.1767

144.125

1.3027

0.1104

24

28

17

18

Daly, Conor (R)

D/H/H/F

01:24.2625

143.979

1.3885

0.0858

21

26

18

83

Kimball, Charlie

D/C/C/F

01:24.2790

143.950

1.4050

0.0165

23

25

19

28

Hunter-Reay, Ryan

D/H/H/F

01:24.3200

143.880

1.4460

0.0410

25

25

20

19

Enerson, RC (R)

D/H/H/F

01:24.5840

143.431

1.7100

0.2640

28

35

21

5

Hinchcliffe, James

D/H/H/F

01:24.8903

142.914

2.0163

0.3063

11

27

22

27

Andretti, Marco

D/H/H/F

01:24.9208

142.863

2.0468

0.0305

21

23

(R) Rookie (C)hassis: D=Dallara | (A)erokit: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (E)ngine: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (T)ire: F=Firestone

Total Laps: 687

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