Wilson gives Coyne first IRL win at The Glen
For 25 years Dale Coyne entered races all over the world and came home empty handed in terms of gathering a victory. That all changed on Sunday as veteran open wheel driver and sophomore Indy Racing League (IRL) driver Justin Wilson captured the checkered flag in dominant fashion in the Camping World Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International.
"It's funny when you think back about the things you do and I remember being here in 1978 in a Super V and that was a long time ago and you have a passion for this and we have years that just make you want to try harder," Coyne stated following the event which saw Wilson lead 49 of the 60 laps.
For Wilson, it was his second career IRL victory following his victory in the season finale at Detroit in 2008.
"We've looked at the whole season with the limited testing and focused more so on the road courses testing at Sebring and here (Watkins Glen) about two or three weeks ago and its paid off," Wilson explained about how his team was able to give him a car capable of dominating the race.
The front row consisting of pole-sitter Ryan Briscoe and Wilson led the field of 21 cars to the green flag under mostly sunny skies. Briscoe would lead the opening moments of the race until Wilson made his first move, taking the lead from Briscoe down the long back stretch entering the chicane on lap 6.
The first caution of the race would come out on lap 19 as Richard Antinucci spun and stalled in turn one. While the incident was minor in nature, it was nearly disastrous for Briscoe who entered pit road while "pits closed" light was on. Briscoe would be forced to return to pit road a second time for a full pit stop per IRL rules.
Following pits stops and the restart on lap 21, Wilson led rookie Mike Conway, Graham Rahal, Hideki Mutoh and Helio Castroneves. Moments later, series points leader Dario Franchitti would find trouble in the inner-loop as he backed his car into gravel loosing several seconds en-route to a disappointing 15th place finish.
Over the next 30 laps, pit strategy would allow drivers such as Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Marco Andretti to lead laps while Wilson chased them down following his final pit stop of the race on lap 40.
With less than 10 laps remaining the final caution would fly as Mutoh spun and made contact with the barrier in the toe of the boot.
On the restart with seven laps remaining, Wilson easily pulled away from Briscoe who had recovered from the earlier mistake to finish second while Dixon, Castroneves and Andretti rounded out the top five.
The next event on the schedule for Watkins Glen is the August NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event while the IRL will travel north of the border to the streets of Toronto.