By David PhillipsRelated story: Justin Wilson takes Dale Coyne's first win
“I don’t know if we had enough to pass Ryan,” said Wilson. “He was always doing a good job today. I’d like to think we could have got there, especially since he was on used (option) tires and we were on a new set, but that’s just how it goes.”
The second row of the grid will feature Scott Dixon, a four time Indy car winner at the Glen, along with young Mario Moraes who has been at or near the top of the speed charts throughout practice and qualifying. Graham Rahal will start fifth beside Franchitti, who spun backwards into the Turn 11 tire wall mid-way through the final “Fast Six” qualifying segment.
“I just tried too hard,” Franchitti explained. “We made some changes between the session before the Firestone Fast Six. We tried to get rid of some mid-corner understeer and, unfortunately, loosed-up a little bit on entry. I was feeling good grip from the tires going into the last corner and as soon as I turned I lost the back end and I knew I was in trouble and that was it. It was a pretty good hit.”
Franchitti wasn’t alone in experiencing a tough saturday at Watkins Glen. Helio Castroneves was prematurely reduced to a spectator role when his 1:29.8662 failed to get him past the first round of knock-out qualifying.
“Needless to say, qualifying was a bit frustrating because the Team Penske car was better than we qualified,” said Castroneves. “It took us a little longer to get up to speed than we thought it would and we just didn’t have enough time to get a fast lap in there at the end of the session.”
In his first visit to Watkins Glen during his long career, Paul Tracy also failed to progress to round two of qualifying and will start 15th, beside ‘08 Watkins Glen winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.
“The GEICO/KV Racing Technology team has done a good job,” said Tracy after turning a 1:30.6167. “I just have no track experience here at Watkins Glen. I am getting better and better with every lap, and we made some big gains in the last two laps.”
On a happier note, Mike Conway rebounded from a crash in the morning practice session to qualify seventh fastest at 1:29.1715, while Danica Patrick just missed making the Fast Six when she posted a 1:29.2076 and will start just ahead of Andretti Green teammates Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan.
“I think we could have gotten a little more out of the Boost Mobile/Motorola car,” Patrick said. “The last lap was our quickest, but we had gained some understeer by then. If the car had been able to stay more consistent, we definitely could have started higher on the grid.”
Like 19 other starters, Patrick will get to see if she can move higher up the order in the race tomorrow...and if she has anything for Briscoe.
Debutant Richard Antinucci could not repeat his impressive practice form, but was satisfied with his time as he secured 20th on the grid for his first IndyCar start with 3G.TIMES:
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1m28.5970s
2. Justin Wilson Coyne 1m29.3106s
3. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1m29.7279s
4. Mario Moraes KV 1m29.8003s
5. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m29.9526s
6. Dario Franchitti Ganassi
7. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 1m29.1715s
8. Danica Patrick Andretti Green 1m29.2076s
9. Marco Andretti Andretti Green 1m29.3539s
10. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green 1m29.4131s
11. EJ Viso HVM 1m29.5661s
12. Dan Wheldon Panther 1m29.9137s
13. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 1m29.7943s
14. Helio Castroneves Penske 1m29.8662s
15. Paul Tracy KV 1m30.6167s
16. Ryan Hunter-Reay Foyt 1m30.4001s
17. Robert Doornbos Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m30.6266s
18. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon 1m30.4981s
19. Milka Duno Dreyer & Reinbold 1m33.6824s
20. Richard Antinucci 3G 1m31.1910s
21. Ed Carpenter Vision 1m31.6852s