Wilson and Dale Coyne triumph at Watkins Glen
6 July 2009 – Justin Wilson sparked an emotional moment for the Dale Coyne team as it claimed its first IndyCar Series victory on Sunday. The Englishman enjoyed a strong performance at Watkins Glen as it crossed the finish line ahead of Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon.
It was Briscoe who claimed pole position at the upper New York state track on Saturday, as the Australian hoped to finally win a race after three close seconds had been followed by a crash at Richmond. Wilson's great weekend had already begun in style, however, as he joined the Penske on the front row.
A clean start would be key for everybody as IndyCars returned to a street course, as Wilson piled the pressure on Briscoe as soon as the flag dropped. Having acted as a magnet on the back of the Penske for almost four full laps, Justin zoomed through at the Bus Stop before stretching out a convincing lead as his roots in European circuit racing undoubtedly helped to do so.
It was a bad day for last year's winner, however, as Ryan Hunter-Reay suffered from contact on the first lap of the race which caused suspension damage in the middle of a log jam. Raphael Matos was also put out of contention as was Robert Doornbos, whose front wing was damaged in the incident; the Dutchman may have been down but was not out, however, and thereafter drove a very strong race to recover to ninth position.
Contact between back markers Marco Andretti and EJ Viso almost resulted in disaster for leader Wilson, meantime, as the former struggled with a puncture just before being lapped. As the trio went three-wide, the leader somehow squeezed through without contact although Briscoe had closed in. As Wilson pitted first of the front-runners, a caution period for new boy Richard Antinucci's spin saw those behind have to come in suddenly, handing the lead back to Dale Coyne.
As the yellow dropped many of the quick runners to the middle of the field, Briscoe and Dixon were the men making the running as they eventually climbed back to the podium. For British championship contender - and leading coming into Watkins Glen - Dario Franchitti there was disaster as the Scot's Ganassi car was forced out of the race; after a hit between Mario Moraes and Ed Carpenter in the KV and Vision cars respecively, Franchitti was forced to avoid the drama and spun into the gravel trap as a result, dropping a lap behind the leaders and eventually finishing a highly disappointing fifteenth.
At the front, Wilson crossed the line almost five seconds ahead of Briscoe, who held off Dixon by just two tenths of a second. The reigning Champion now assumes the lead in the standings from team-mate Franchitti, with whom Briscoe has drawn level heading to Toronto in less than a week.