IndyCar Watkins Glen Race Review: ‘A Really Timely Caution’ or: T-Bell’s Faux Pas Edition

RossiWGindycarcom

Photo from indycar.com

Alexander Rossi owes a highly dubious second career win to his teammate and fellow Indy 500 winner Takuma “timing is everything” Sato, who committed the racing equivalent of hari kari at the Glen – twice. In NBCSN’s booth, apparently Townsend Bell was under the influence of enough meds to nearly forget his name, which makes us wonder about his urine test for the next race.

For Daffy Leigh Diffey‘s triumphant return to IndyCar there was the ridiculous wet start that wasn’t. That is to say, it wasn’t wet and it wasn’t much of a start. Thank goodness Tony Kanaan made it through the parade laps this time, though he would eventually find pit lane too difficult to navigate, hitting the wall at pit lane exit – right after the championship leader did the exact same thing.

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Photo from indycar.com

The start saw Josef Newgarden surging, Scott Dixon dropping and Helio going way wide with no track restrictions in place. After the first lap pit stops for slicks a reshuffle had Helio around Rossi for the lead and Ryan Hunter-Reay up to fourth. Spencer Pigot spun completely around on lap 4 but managed to keep it going and even lead some laps before finishing 12th.

On lap 5 Dixon got around RHR prior to the first of three cautions, as Hinchcliff’s gear box issue and a puff of smoke from his Honda ended his day. The race returned to green on lap nine and as usual Helio jumped the restart ahead of Rossi, Newgarden and Dixie. Dixon soon passed Newkid again and appeared to be on the way to another win at the Glen. However, it wasn’t to be and Helio opened up a sizable lead.

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Image from youtube.com

Then the Townsend Bell blooper reel portion of the broadcast began. He mistakenly said the championship finale is at Sonoma “next week,” when in fact it’s in two weeks. The commentator then referred to “the flip flop situation,” whatever that is, before blowing Power’s position after pitting. And the comedy of errors didn’t end there, as he’d later go on to try some ill-advised weather forecasting.

Sato stopped on course with a waste gate issue for the second caution, setting up another round of stops. Helio, Rossi, and RHR who gained three spots exited pit lane first, while Dixon dropped two spots to fifth as Newgarden got around him, followed by Kimball, Rahal, Pags and Power who gained five spots to ninth. The lap 18 restart saw the off sequence Pigot, Chilton and JR Hildebrand out front, though Rossi quickly dispatched them as his team frantically changed out his malfunctioning fuel hose in his pit.

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Image from youtube.com

The fuel probe problem forced an additional 12 second stop on Rossi, allowing RHR to take the lead over Helio and Dixie. On lap 27 Sato brought out his second and the third yellow of the day by spinning on track. Failing to add any light, Bell was “not sure” of the cause at first. It soon became clear however that the phantom spin caution brought Rossi back to the front and on sequence once the rest of the field pitted. It was Jon Beekhuis who pointed out the “yellow was perfect timing for Rossi.”

Rossi led the field back to green, as Rahal passed Newkid. Then Charlie Kimball fumbled trying to pass Newgarden, dropped back through the field and hit the wall, forcing Munoz and others to evade him. Charlie later took a shortcut through a corner wildly driving over the grass on the way to a 7th place effort.

Dixon passed RHR on the inside for third around the halfway point, with little other action occurring until the next pit stops. That’s when the points leader made the biggest mistake of his life. “America’s next superstar!” as Kevin Lee termed him was racing his teammate Power off pit road, locked up his brakes to avoid hitting him and hit the pit exit wall. He was then contacted hard by Bourdais from behind. Newgarden’s car suffered major damage and after numerous stops would limp home in 18th. The miscue decimated his points lead with only the finale remaining.

Tony Kanaan also screwed up again copying Newkid’s brain fade, and Bell even fouled that up. He scrambled TK’s long litany of recent errors, referring to his parade lap crash “at Phoenix,” instead of Gateway. Jeesh.

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Photo from indycar.com

Dixon trailed Rossi by nearly a second despite turning the fastest lap of race and that’s the way it would end. Bell spoke of being impressed with Rossi “on the ovals now,” even though his only previous win at the Indy 500 was on an oval and you don’t get any roadier than Watkins Glen. At this point, including his “duck left, pass right” misstatement toward the end of the broadcast would probably be overkill.

What Diffey accurately called “a really timely caution” by his teammate produced Rossi’s second win, his first on a road course. It reminded us of a previous bit of AA chicanery, when Bryan Herta’s mysterious spin at Sonoma aided in Marco’s first win. The racing – like the commentary – has been better.

Post Race Quotes –

Alexander “don’t call me Alex” Rossi: “An amazing job by the whole team today. We had an issue in the beginning, right? With . . . a fuel thing, but whatever. It doesn’t matter. The team recovered. We had the pace to do it.”

Scott Dixon: “Yeah, definitely a good move in the points. You know, I’m kinda shocked we ended up where we did.”

Josef Newgarden: “I did my guys no favor here in the pits, by sliding wide. . . . I made a mistake, just hitting the wall there. You know I just came out of the pits too hot, obviously, off the button.”

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5 thoughts on “IndyCar Watkins Glen Race Review: ‘A Really Timely Caution’ or: T-Bell’s Faux Pas Edition

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