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Tires Under Scrutiny At The Glen

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 4 2016
Team Penske's Will Power, who qualified second for the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen, addresses fans during a pre-race visit to The Glen Club Sunday morning. (RacinToday.com photo by Martha Fairris)

Team Penske’s Will Power, who qualified second for the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen on Saturday, addresses fans during a pre-race
visit to The Glen Club. (RacinToday photo by Martha Fairris)

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Pole-sitter Scott Dixon paced the final 30-minute Verizon IndyCar Series warmup session Sunday morning at Watkins Glen International, and then opted to start the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen on Firestone’s alternate (red) compound tires.

Dixon logged 14 laps around WGI’s repaved, 3.37-mile/11-turn natural-terrain layout under sunny skies with a best time of 1 minute, 23.7172-seconds and 144.916 mph. Dixon, the four-time/reigning series champion, claimed his first WGI pole Saturday afternoon at an open-wheel track-record 1:22.5259-seconds and 147.008 mph during the Firestone Fast Six.

Dixon secured his second pole of 2016 and the 25th of his stellar career. In doing so, Dixon and his twin-turbocharged Chevrolet V-6 relegated Ryan Briscoe’s seven-year-old numbers _ 1:28.1322-seconds and 137.657 mph in a Dallara/Honda V-8_ into ancient history by a massive 5.6063-seconds.    

Dixon said post-qualifying that tire selection would be critical heading into the 60-lap/202.2-miler that is the penultimate round of the 16-race schedule. Dixon also indicated he was not particularly pleased with the performance of Firestone’s alternate (red) compound on WGI’s new smooth and fast surface.

“In some areas I think the red had pretty good grip, but for me it wasn’t…it didn’t suit me,” said Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. “Degradation is going to be one (issue); I think we’ve seen quite a bit of graining and the occasional blisters and things like that on the blacks (primary), and the reds we really don’t know yet. Yeah, I guess the easiest thing is just to say it’s a lot of unknowns, and I think you’ll see a pretty good mix-up.”

INDYCAR rules stipulate each team must use both the primary and alternate Firestone rubber for at least two laps each during the event. Teams are free to switch compounds after fulfilling that requirement. The 22 teams competing this weekend have been allocated eight sets of primary and three sets of alternate tires for the three-day program.

Only four of the 22 entrants have opted to start the race on primary (black) tires _ rookie/reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport; Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport; Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Takuma Sato of A.J. Foyt Racing. Rossi will start 15th; the first 14 drivers on the grid have selected the alternate compound.

Championship leader Simon Pagenaud has a 28-point lead over Team Penske teammate Will Power in the title chase. Power will start opposite Dixon on the front row; Pagenaud will roll off seventh.

Race coverage will begin at 2 p.m. (EDT) on NBC Sports Network and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. The command to start engines is set for 2:30 p.m. with the green flag scheduled for 2:37 p.m.

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Official tire designation for the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen, with starting position, car number in parenthesis, driver, engine/aero kit and Firestone tire compound:

  1. (9) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, Alternate
  2. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, Alternate
  3. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, Alternate
  4. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, Alternate
  5. (10) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, Alternate
  6. (8) Max Chilton (R), Chevrolet, Alternate
  7. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, Alternate
  8. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, Alternate
  9. (41) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, Alternate
  10. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, Alternate
  11. (19) RC Enerson (R), Honda, Alternate
  12. (21) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, Alternate
  13. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, Alternate
  14. (83) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, Alternate
  15. (98) Alexander Rossi (R), Honda, Primary
  16. (26) Carlos Munoz, Honda, Alternate
  17. (18) Conor Daly (R), Honda, Alternate
  18. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, Primary
  19. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, Alternate
  20. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, Primary
  21. (20) Spencer Pigot (R), Chevrolet, Alternate
  22. (14) Takuma Sato, Honda, Primary

_ (R) Rookie

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 4 2016
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