Will Power extended his IndyCar Series points lead with a commanding victory at Watkins Glen. The Australian led home his countryman and Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe in a one-two, with the latter passing Dario Franchitti for the runner-up spot on the final lap.
The race was a close-fought battle between Penske and Ganassi from the outset. Though Penske held its one-two-three sweep at the start, Briscoe was able to nudge in front until Power out-braked him after the long uphill drag to the Bus Stop chicane. Behind them, Helio Castroneves fended off the Ganassi duo who were briefly split by Justin Wilson's Dreyer & Reinbold car. However, the Brit would soon drop back.
Castroneves, Franchitti and Scott Dixon went down the backstraight three abreast on lap four without changing positions, although Franchitti was able to overtake the Brazilian at the same spot next time around.
But when Dixon tried to emulate his teammate's move, he caught his front wing on Castroneves' left rear tire, puncturing it, necessitating a pit stop for a new front wing and a new set of tires, respectively.
The delayed pair would briefly reappear at the front as their enforced three-stop strategies played out later in the race, but effectively the incident distilled the lead battle into a three-way fight between Power, Briscoe and Franchitti.The latter lost touch a little midrace, when the charging Raphael Matos passed Franchitti for third just at a restart. But the reigning champion got back ahead at the final stops – which also saw the leading Penske duo swap places as Briscoe got out first.
A heavy crash for Simona de Silvestro's HVM car caused a full-course caution, and meant that fuel mileage became slightly less of an issue for those on a two-stop strategy. Thus, when Briscoe exited the pits ahead of Power, both knew that the restart would be crucial. Briscoe as leader got the drop, but Power was again tucked in his slipstream up the hill, and again out-braked him for the Bus Stop chicane.
A couple of laps later, Franchitti too passed Briscoe who dropped away from the Ganassi car, before it became clear that Dario was in tire trouble. The No. 6 Penske homed back in on the Ganassi No. 10, and got an excellent run out of the final turn to make the pass at the start of the last lap, following home teammate Power to resoundingly end the Penske jinx at the Glen that had existed since it became an IRL-sanctioned race in 2005.
Matos came home an excellent fourth for De Ferran Dragon despite having no telemetry, and therefore being forced to take it easy without any fuel mileage information. Mario Moraes (KV Racing) was just as impressive, taking a fifth place after some great battles with the Andretti Autosport drivers and Justin Wilson.
Panther's Dan Wheldon caused an early yellow when Alex Lloyd's Dale Coyne Racing car punted him into a spin at Turn 8, and the car stalled. However, he was bump started without losing a lap, and the enforced pit strategy was perfect as was Wheldon's charging drive to sixth.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport) had to battle through the field twice – first to make up for his 16th place on the grid, and then after stalling in the pits and falling to last. Despite all this, he finished seventh ahead of the recovering Dixon and Castroneves.
After the opening laps, last year's Watkins Glen winner Justin Wilson never got near the lead battle, losing several positions before his first pit stop and ultimately taking 10th, ahead of KV's EJ Viso. The Venezuelan's alternative three-stop strategy got him up front at times after his practice crash left him last on the grid.
Several drivers lost positions by making precautionary third pit stops in the expectation that everyone ahead would eventually have to. Paul Tracy was among them in 14th place on his one-off outing with Dreyer & Reinbold. Having made up three places in the opening lap, he had been a top 10 factor in the opening stint, driving with his usual determination to fend off Andretti Autosport's debutant Adam Carroll, whose similar strategy dropped him from a likely top 10 to 16th.
Takuma Sato ran as high as fourth, after a brave pass on Wilson, but tumbled down the order when he pitted a lap before his KV crew had anticipated. That and changing to three stops left him 15th, while Andretti's Tony Kanaan dropped from a top 10 finish to 21st when he had to pit for a fuel top-up in the closing laps.
Pos Driver Team Gap
1. Will Power Penske 60 laps
2. Ryan Briscoe Penske + 1.2181s
3. Dario Franchitti Ganassi + 1.4573s
4. Raphael Matos De Ferran Dragon + 5.3454s
5. Mario Moraes KV + 9.3229s
6. Dan Wheldon Panther + 9.7523s
7. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti + 10.5003s
8. Scott Dixon Ganassi + 12.0546s
9. Helio Castroneves Penske + 12.9834s
10. Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold + 13.5635s
11. EJ Viso KV + 18.7591s
12. Hideki Mutoh Newman/Haas + 20.2279s
13. Marco Andretti Andretti + 26.6965s
14. Paul Tracy Dreyer & Reinbold + 27.7310s
15. Takuma Sato KV + 28.8774s
16. Adam Caroll AFS/Andretti + 29.3624s
17. Alex Tagliani Fazzt + 35.3753s
18. Bertrand Baguette Conquest + 36.5350s
19. Vitor Meira Foyt + 36.9869s
20. Danica Patrick Andretti + 38.2675s
21. Tony Kanaan Andretti + 38.6700s
22. Mario Romancini Conquest + 1 lap
23. Milka Duno Dale Coyne + 3 laps
Simona de Silvestro HVM 38 laps
Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne 22 laps