Sunday, July 5, 2009

To "Coyne" A New Phrase, It's "Justin" Time ... At The Glen

Transition Player team owner, Dale Coyne embraces his driver, 6'3" Justin Wilson, in the winners circle at Watkins Glen after Wilson wins his first race of the 2009 season and the first ever win for Dale Coyne racing. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)

To "Coyne" A New Phrase, It's "Justin" Time ... At The Glen

From the Indy Racing League's Live Timing & Scoring webpage:

15:14:44 GMT-0400 Justin Wilson wins the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen! This is the first win for Dale Coyne Racing.

Dale Coyne (and Dale Coyne Racing co-owned with his wife, Gail) has had to wait a long time to visit victory circle in his career in American Open Wheel Racing, but today, at the Camping World Grand Prix At The Glen, Justin Wilson was the class of the field and beat Ryan Briscoe by nearly five seconds to the Checkered Flag for his first win of the 2009 IndyCar Series (ICS) season.

It has been 25 years, as a team owner that Dale Coyne suffered as a backmarker but it was never without trying or without heart ... but this year things began to gel. Here in the sophomore year of unification between ChampCar and the IRL, Dale Coyne had the driver and engineering team he brought together that was able to get the most out of the nine year old Dallara chassis design and formula Honda engine to win against the most dominate two teams in the Indy Racing League.

Podium: race winner - Justin Wilson, Dale Coyne Racing, second place - Ryan Briscoe, Team Penske Racing, third place - Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)

If it wasn't Dale's first win in 558 open wheel racing starts that made this win important, it was the fact that this was the first "non" Team Penske or Target Chip Ganassi Racing win in ten races dating back to last ICS season in September of 2008. Funny thing, it was Justin Wilson driving for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing at Detroit's Belle Isle street circuit that has the effect of "Justin" Time bookending this two team dominance of the IndyCar Series Championship.

Z-Line sponsored Dale Coyne Racing Dallara driven by Justin Wilson at Watkins Glen. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)

It makes one ask, is there anyone else but this Transition Player driver that can beat a Penske or Ganassi establishment team effort? Problem is, the other best driver to transition from the ChampCar World Series is already a Team Penske driver ... Will Power, and he is currently sidelined as a test driver after holding down Helio Castroneves's seat while Helio was defending himself against tax evasion charges (aquitted).

As far as the other Transition Players are concerned, well, they struggled against Yellow Flags, miscues and accidents throughout the 60 lap race. Great hopes were riding with Paul Tracy and the Geico sponsored KV Racing Technology Dallara after Paul returned to the IndyCar Series competition since his one-time ride with AJ Foyt's ABC Supply team at the Milwaukee Mile as a warm-up to the hometown race for this Canadian champion, Toronto. Paul managed to dash his own hopes at completing a full race at Watkins Glen (the first time he has ever competed at this venue - surprising!) when he applied the accelerator a bit too aggressively on lap 29 on the off-camber turn #7 while running 11th.

The middle stages saw a rash of yellows and problems for several major contenders. Paul Tracy's KV Racing Technology teammate, Mario Moraes, had a promising weekend to begin with, qualifying fourth on the grid, saw it go awry when he scraped against Ed Carpenter's Vision Racing car at the Bus Stop while trying to make up the ground he managed to loose in the pits. Mario Moraes brought the Dallara home in fourteenth position.

Ryan Briscoe's Penske acts as a hood ornament to Justin Wilson's Z-Line sponsored Dale Coyne Racing Dallara in turn one on lap one! Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)

Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's Graham Rahal, for a time was looking pretty good as he was able to climb up to P2 behind Wilson, after having been penalized after the Firestone Fast Six P5 qualifying position down ten spots to start the race at P15, before the final round of pitstops but yellow flags caught him out as well and he became out of cycle and finished just ahead of Moraes at P13.

Robert Doornbos, Graham Rahal's Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing teammate and CCWS 2007 Rookie-Of-The Year, posted his best IRL finish in his rookie season breaking into the top 10 at P9.

The surprise finish for a Transition Player after Justin Wilson was HVM Racing's EJ Viso who completed his second race in a row and of the season. Viso, who has had trouble finishing races this season, started the race at P10 and remained in the top ten by completing the race at P7.

But the real story of the day will remain with Dale Coyne and his wife, Gail who entered into racing and team management in 1985 with the PPG CART championship season and waited until this day for their first open wheel racing win.

Said Justin Wilson of his winning drive to the finish, "It's fantastic to get Dale's first win and also Gail's. The two of them put a lot into this, their heart and soul. It means a lot to me. I think this is the most important victory of my career.

"I got here early", Justin continued, so we're down in Watkins Glen walking around, and you see all those names on the pavement [outside the Watkins Glen Motor Racing Research Library], the guys that have won here. That's pretty cool. It's fantastic to get your name on the board of winning at Watkins Glen up there with some of the best."

We hope to see more "Coyne-d" phrases throughout the 2009 season ... winning in "Justin" time.

In the end, the contest boiled down to the fact that Wilson had managed to save two sets of fresh Firestone option tyres for the race while Briscoe only had one. On the final round of stops, Wilson donned his second set of options while Briscoe only had Firestone's harder primaries left. Caption Credit: / Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)

How the field of 21 cars fared (** denotes the six Transition Players):

Pos Driver Team Time/Gap

1. Justin Wilson Coyne 1h48m24.1947s**
2. Ryan Briscoe Penske + 4.9906s
3. Scott Dixon Ganassi + 5.1632s
4. Helio Castroneves Penske + 7.0755s
5. Marco Andretti Andretti Green + 8.5595s
6. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold + 9.3646s
7. EJ Viso HVM + 11.3804s**
8. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green + 13.0020s
9. Robert Doornbos Newman/Haas/Lanigan + 13.2633s**
10. Dan Wheldon Panther + 18.0412s
11. Danica Patrick Andretti Green + 18.5656s
12. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon + 18.9342s
13. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan + 23.0413s**
14. Mario Moraes KV + 23.3821s**
15. Dario Franchitti Ganassi + 1 lap
16. Ed Carpenter Vision + 1 lap
17. Milka Duno Dreyer & Reinbold + 2 laps
18. Richard Antinucci 3G + 13 laps


Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 51 laps
Paul Tracy KV 29 laps**
Ryan Hunter-Reay Foyt 0 laps

Live Blogging of the race from "My Name Is IRL" here>>

... notes from The EDJE

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