Scott Dixon lost his bid to take a record-breaking fourth consecutive victory in the IndyCar Series at Sunday’s Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen, but the series saw yet another first-time winner as Ryan Hunter-Reay, who started third, opened up a commanding lead in the last 10 laps of the race and took the checkered flag.
The dynasty is over at Watkins Glen. Scott Dixon lost his bid to take a record-breaking fourth consecutive victory in the IndyCar Series at Sunday’s Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen, but the series saw yet another first-time winner as Ryan Hunter-Reay, who started third, opened up a commanding lead in the last 10 laps of the race and took the checkered flag.
Hunter-Reay’s win is the first IndyCar Series victory for Rahal-Letterman Racing since 2004.
“It’s a dream come true. … American kid winning with Ethanol on the side of the car,” said Hunter-Reay, who has two career Champ Car World Series victories, in 2003 and 2004. “It’s an American dream. I can’t tell you how happy I am.”
But who would ever think there’d be more action at the racetrack when the green flag is not flying than when it is? A wreck under yellow took out Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe on lap 49.
Milka Duno and A.J. Foyt IV started it all with contact under the yellow in turn 8. Tony Kanaan suffered a hairline fracture of his left wrist in practice Sunday morning but still found himself running near the top all afternoon, finishing third.
Green or yellow, the race had all the trappings of a Saturday night at the short track at times. On toe first lap Target Chip Ganassi’s Dan Wheldon went off the course, and Dixon had to drop back a position for jumping the start.
Helio Castroneves, bringing up the rear of the field as he failed to post a qualifying time Saturday because of mechanical issues, made a nice run early, moving up six positions in the first two laps, but he also brought out the first yellow of the day, when the Team Penske Honda encountered mechanical problems and came to a stop at the entrance to pit lane. He was able to rejoin the race, but finished a lap down, in 16th position.
Briscoe remained in control of the lead through 20 laps, when he and Dixon pitted for tires and fuel. Panther Racing’s Vitor Meira took over the lead for five laps before coming in for a scheduled pit stop. When he came in on lap 25, Briscoe regained the lead and held it until lap 40. That’s when everything at The Glen got, well, “weird,” as Kanaan put it.
The yellow flew for only the second time on lap 40 as E.J. Viso made contact with Meira. Viso would move to the back of the line for an avoidable contact penalty. Meira and his National Guard car were out of the race.
A bunch of cars came in on the yellow for tires and fuel, including Danica Patrick, who spun exiting her pit, made contact with the pit wall, and nearly with Dixon’s pit crew. Patrick also received a drive-through penalty for hitting pit equipment.
The green flew again on lap 44, with A.J. Foyt Racing’s Darren Manning in the lead. On lap 45, the yellow appeared yet again when Enrique Bernoldi ended up on the runoff in turn 1. He was taken to the infield care center for x-rays complaining of back pain.
The yellow stayed out, but the crashes kept coming. Under the caution in lap 48, Foyt made contact with the rear of Milka Duno’s car in turn 8, sending them both into the tire barrier.
On the next lap, anticipating a green flag, Dixon was warming his tires and did a full spin in turn 10. Briscoe was unable to avoid Dixon and ran up on his left rear. The yellow-flag dustups left Darren Manning in the lead. Hunter-Reay, in the faster car, in second, with Kanaan third and Buddy Rice fourth.
Dixon was upset over his costly mistake.
“I feel bad. I was a complete idiot,” said Dixon. “My guys lost very valuable points today. I still can’t believe I did it. I was just trying to burn the front tires up a bit because of the new tires and the restart. I feel more down for Briscoe and his boys.”
Briscoe, who had an amazing run before the wreck, said: “It’s unfortunate. I imagine how Scott’s feeling right now. … I just wish he would have messed up and not gotten me involved in that moment. I think we had a really good shot for a win or at least it would have been a really good fight between me and Dixon to the finish line.”
Dixon, with his amazing year so far, remains atop the points. Castroneves is still in second, followed by Wheldon.
The IndyCar Series travels to the Nashville Superspeedway for a race under the lights at 8 p.m. Saturday.