Three burning questions to be answered at The Glen in 2017
By Chris Banker
Sr. Manager of Public Relations
Watkins Glen International
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (January 26, 2017) – As the dawn of a new season in American racing approaches, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Verizon IndyCar Series, and WeatherTech SportsCar Championship have one thing in common:
A trip to the Finger Lakes region of New York.
For the second consecutive season, Watkins Glen International is the only facility to host each of North America’s major racing series – with the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, Watkins Glen 355, and INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen all on the coming year’s slate.
“This is the way it should be,” said Watkins Glen International President Michael Printup. “The Glen is the birthplace of American road racing. With that in mind, the best drivers in the world should be right here, competing for the chance to be a champion. With the addition of the Verizon IndyCar Series to our schedule last year, we were able to accomplish that. It’s great for the sport and it’s great for New York State.”
With a multitude of storylines and anticipation at fever pitch with the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway officially kicking off the country’s motorsports calendar this weekend, we narrowed down the questions surrounding these series to three, with a WGI twist, of course.
1. Will the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series produce a fourth straight first-time Cup winner at Watkins Glen International?
It’s no secret that drivers in each of NASCAR’s top series are savvier in general when it comes to road course racing than their previous generation, and Watkins Glen International is perfect representation of that. A.J. Allmendinger, Joey Logano, and Denny Hamlin have become first-time Cup winners here in each of the last three seasons. The last driver to take the checkered flag and drive to Gatorade Victory Lane by memory was Marcos Ambrose, who won in 2011 and 2012.
Looking to the future, it’s hard to count reigning seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson out of anything, and with The Glen being one of only three tracks he is yet to win at on the circuit, there should be no shortage of motivation. Surprisingly, Johnson has only led 17 laps at WGI in his illustrious career. The next generation of NASCAR stars, including Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, and Ryan Blaney have also shown early prowess at Watkins Glen and other road courses. Regardless of the victor, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series field coming in August will be loaded with contenders once again, and should be counted on to provide truly exciting, if not frantic, racing. BUY TICKETS
2. Can Scott Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing continue their dominance in September’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen?
When it was announced that the Verizon IndyCar Series was returning to Watkins Glen International last May, there was no one happier than Scott Dixon. The four-time series champion, speaking at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said he would have already had a fourth win if he “wasn’t so silly and spun out under caution one year”. In the season’s 15th race, Dixon threw it back to 2007 by dominating the practice charts, winning the pole, and earning the elusive fourth trip to Gatorade Victory Lane.
This September, Dixon will enter as the clear favorite for another victory in New York. However, Josef Newgarden showed impressive speed throughout the 2016 race weekend, all while nursing a hand injury sustained earlier in the season – could his move to Penske Racing be enough to put him over the top? His new teammate, Helio Castroneves, who finished on the podium’s third step last year, is also seeking his first Watkins Glen win, and should be given another hard look as a contender. BUY TICKETS
3. Which team will top the charts in the newly revamped IMSA prototype class in July’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen?
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Prototype class has taken on a new look this year, with the introduction of the much-anticipated Daytona Prototype International (DPi), and the many strong teams fielding new cars. Among those entered for the Rolex 24, Tequila Patron ESM (Nissan DPi), Mustang Sampling Racing (Cadillac DPi), Konica Minolta Racing (Cadillac DPi), Whelen Engineering Racing (Cadillac DPi), Mazda Motorsports (Mazda DPi), and VisitFlorida Racing (Multimatic/Riley).
Recent Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen races have been dominated by the now obsolete Daytona Prototypes, with the sleeker ORECA chassis coming up just short on race day. Perhaps, with teams attempting to adapt their new cars to the challenging and blistering fast Watkins Glen International full course layout, a shift of dominance in the endurance classic is coming. As we’ve seen in recent years, a lot can happen over the course of six unpredictable hours here – and that will remain a constant in 2017. BUY TICKETS
Don’t miss a second of the action in 2017 with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen (June 29-July 2), Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Watkins Glen 355 (August 3-6), and Verizon IndyCar Series INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen (August 31-September 3). Tickets, camping, and more information for each event is available at www.theglen.com.
Located within five (5) hours (~300 miles) of 25% of the US population, Watkins Glen International is the premier road racing facility in North America, voted “Best NASCAR Track” by readers of USA Today.
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