Daly Stretches Fuel to Finish Fourth for Honda at Watkins Glen
- Enerson brings second Dale Coyne Racing Honda home ninth in just second start
- Heartbreak for Hinchcliffe as fuel starvation on last lap costs podium finish
A day that started out with several Honda podium contenders, ended in disappointment for most in the final laps of Sunday’s IndyCar Grand Prix at the Glen, as Conor Daly alone was able to stretch his fuel run to the checkers, finishing fourth for Dale Coyne Racing in a race dominated by Scott Dixon.
Running second with just two laps to go, James Hinchcliffe ran out of fuel less than two turns from the finish, dropping him to 18th in the final results. Also saving fuel during the last stint, Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi fell from sixth to eighth in the final laps.
On a different strategy, Takuma Sato pitted for a brief splash of fuel with 13 laps remaining, and was charging towards the front when a spin on Lap 58 [of 60] sent him tumbling down the order. He would finish 17th. But making just his second Verizon IndyCar Series start, rookie R.C. Enerson was able to move up after his own late-race pit stop, finishing ninth in his Dale Coyne Racing Honda.
After qualifying 10th, Mikhail Aleshin spun in a multi-car incident in the first turn of the opening lap, and dropped out of the race on Lap 14 due to a puncture most likely sustained in the first-lap incident. After running as high as sixth, Graham Rahal was eliminated in a crash on Lap 19 after contact with Charlie Kimball.
The Verizon IndyCar Series now heads cross-country to Sonoma Raceway, just north of San Francisco, California, for the September 18, double-points paying Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma. The season-ending race, to determine both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships, will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network, starting at 6:30 p.m. EDT.
Conor Daly (#18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda) started 17th, finished 4th: “I really just can’t believe that we ended up fourth! It was a back-and-forth race, with all kinds of stuff going on. But our car was fast. We knew it all weekend. We just had horrible luck. At the end, [the team] said we were making the right fuel number, and I was making up positions. Then I was told we could go a little bit quicker, so one lap we used a bit more fuel, and then they came on the radio and said ‘code red’ [meaning save as much fuel as possible]. If we would’ve saved a little bit more on that one [earlier] lap, we maybe could have held off Helio [for third]. I had no idea where we were, third or fourth or fifth, but at the end of the day, I’ll take fourth!”
James Hinchcliffe (#5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda) started 13th, finished 18th after running out of fuel while running third on the last lap: “It was a frustrating end to a frustrating weekend. I was meeting fuel numbers during the last stint and I could easily have saved more at the end, but I lost the radio on the last lap. I was just cruising because I didn’t know if I needed to save more or not. Either way, I have to give credit to the #5 Arrow Electronics crew, because the pit stops were ‘on point’ today and they did what they needed to do. The car had the speed all weekend, and hopefully we’ll be able to carry that over to Sonoma.”
Art St. Cyr (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race: “Aside from Scott Dixon, it was shaping up to be a pretty good points day for Honda in the manufacturers’ championship. It’s amazing how quickly everything changed in the last two laps, with Takuma’s spin and James running out of fuel 500 yards from the finish line, both of them giving up top-five positions as a result. I would be remiss not to congratulate Conor for an outstanding drive from the start. I also feel bad or Hinch, having a heartbreak two weeks in a row. Let’s hope the breaks even out in Sonoma.”