Watkins Glen IndyCar records set to be smashed
IndyCar Series leader Simon Pagenaud expects records to be obliterated following a one-day test at Watkins Glen.
Pagenaud was one of five drivers from four teams involved in the test ahead of IndyCar’s return to Watkins Glen, a late replacement for the still-born Boston street race, from September 2-4.
Team Penske driver Pagenaud was one of two drivers testing new Firestone compounds and constructions to determine the tyre specification for the race weekend.
The resurfaced track together with the Chevrolet and Honda aero packages on the Dallara chassis is expected to see Ryan Briscoe’s record of 1:28.13s set in 2009 smashed.
“I believe we are already three seconds faster than the track record,” Pagenaud said.
Other drivers involved in the test were Pagenaud’s team-mate Helio Castroneves, James Hinchcliffe (Schmidt-Peterson), Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi) and Indy 500 winner Alex Rossi (Andretti-Herta).
“There will be track records set,” Hinchcliffe said.
“This car would have done it anyway on the old surface, but with the way it is now, I think we will be going pretty quick in qualifying.”
Hinchcliffe said the Watkins Glen race will physically challenge drivers as it hosts IndyCar for the first time since 2010.
“It beats you up, man. It’s going to be really physical, especially on reds (Firestone alternate tyres).
“I can only imagine what that’s going to be like. Definitely will be hitting the weight room before we get here.”
Fresh from finishing third in the GTE Pro class at Le Mans in the Chip Ganassi Ford GT, Scott Dixon said the new surface will provide more passing opportunities.
“I think with the repavement, it’s going to make the racing pretty good,” Dixon, who won at Watkins Glen from 2005-2007, said.
“Even off line it’s still pretty grippy, so it might give you a few different options for passing.”
Pagenaud maintains an 80-point lead over Dixon at the top of the standings after the previous race at Texas was not completed because of bad weather.
The IndyCar battle resumes this weekend at the Elkhart Lake circuit in Wisconsin.