Denes Conquers Drying Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen, NY - Changing conditions threw a curve ball to F1600 Formula F Championship Series competitors, with Phillippe Denes taking the win for Team Pelfrey on a quickly drying Watkins Glen International in round four of the 2016 season. K-Hill teammates Peter Portante and Neil Verhagen completed the podium, with the top three taking a chance on slick Hoosiers on a wet track, and benefiting as the sun came out, able to charge to the front.
Denes started from pole for Team Pelfrey, but opted for dry tires on a wet track. With the green flag out, he went off course in turn one and dropped back through the field, as Ben Auriemma and Max Mallinen stormed to first and second and opened a huge lead on rain tires on a wet track.
As their pair of Spectrums were seemingly running away with the event, the sun came out and the track started to dry. The lap times quickly came down and those who were able to survive the first five laps on dry tires came back to the front, with Denes taking his first career victory.
"We had a big moment on the start, and then the sun came out and I was like 'yes,'" said Denes, in the No. 81 Team Pelfrey Mygale/Honda.
Portante and Verhagen, both Road Atlanta winners, had a spirited race for second with Portante beating Verhagen to the checkered flag by a car-length.
Team Pelfrey's Calvin Ming finished fourth, also charging back to the front on Hoosier dry tires.
Completing the top five, Auriemma soldiered on for Exclusive Autosport but was helpless on a dry track, as was Mallinen's Swan Spectrum, which came home in sixth. Auriemma has showed the rain pace all weekend, also fastest in wet practice by 1.8 seconds.
Among the storylines, Will Harvey went from last to third in just two laps but on rain tires, and came home seventh in the end.
Points leader Steve Bamford spun on the opening lap and finished tenth, winning the Masters Class ahead of Dan Pyanowski and Mike Scanlan.