Ryan Hunter-Reay scored a surprise maiden win at Watkins Glen in a surprising conclusion to the race at the New York circuit.
Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon led much of the race but Darren Manning and Hunter-Reay used an alternate pit strategy to hit the front. That paid off after a spate of full-course yellows hit the closing stages.
In a dramatic twist Dixon, who’d won on the last three occasions at Watkins Glen, lost control of his car during the caution period and was hit by Briscoe, leaving Manning and Hunter-Reay to battle for the win.
Hunter-Reay used the restart to pass Manning at turn one and was able to defend as Manning tried to take the place back from him.
After a final restart – following a caution period caused by Jaime Camara crashing – Manning got his car out of shape allowing Hunter-Reay a decisive advantage. He hung on to finish second ahead of Tony Kanaan, who was nursing a fractured wrist from a crash in the mornign practice session.
Justin Wilson had started from the front row but dropped back after being squeezed out by Dixon. The championship leader appeared to jump the start and was told to hand back his second position to Hunter-Reay, but that did nothing to compensate for the damage caused to Wilson’s race. He later retired with gearbox problems.
Also in trouble on the first lap was Dan Wheldon, who was clipped by Manning who in turn had been squeezed by Marco Andretti. Wheldon spent several laps in the pits, leaving him out of contention.
It’s a busy period for the Indy Car drivers with races on the next three weekends at Nashville, Mid-Ohio and Edmonton.