Race: Centurion Boats at The Glen
Date: Sunday August 10, 2008
Track: Watkins Glen International
Time: 1 pm ET
As we’re counting down the weeks to the Chase, NASCAR throws another loop at drivers. This time, it’s in the form of a road course known as Watkins Glen. Yes, people, NASCAR drivers do turn right occasionally and this is one of those times. In fact, we go to TWO road courses as year. As many remember, we already had a glorious run at Sonoma earlier this year. Now, we’re off to New York to show the fans what these guys can do with a car!
Few actually think of NASCAR drivers as anything more than left-turn speed bandits (well, that’s if you’re not a fan). But many are in for a surprise. If you aren’t truly a NASCAR fan or a fan of stock car racing, you should tune into this weekend’s race and watch just how talented these guys are. Besides making both left and right turns, these guys are racing around turns that IRL drivers race. These road courses are home to the most talented drivers in the world, thus the incorporation of NASCAR. Watkins Glen is specifically one of the more challenging courses in the country because of it’s technicalities. Let’s take a look. This track is almost 2.5 miles with a total of 11 turns. Now keep in mind, there’s more to this course than just driving in a straight line on a flat surface. While oval tracks typically have some banking, road courses have uphill and downhill slopes that challenge the drivers to maintain control of speed and grip as their cars make some of the sharpest turns any driver has seen. If you watched any of the Nationwide race last weekend, then you’re more than likely familiar with how treacherous road courses can be as they raced in Montreal.
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Now, granted that road courses are a different type of track than many drivers are used to, we need to focus on who’s got the best record here. Hands down, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon own road courses in the Cup circuit. They have won 8 of the last 25 races held here at Watkins Glen with a slew of other wins at Sonoma. These guys’ backgrounds allow them the experience that many drivers may not have gained in order to dominate a track like Watkins Glen. As kart racers and dirt racers, road courses allow both Stewart and Gordon to utilize their different talents gained from these types of racing.
Seeing Gordon and Stewart battling up front will be no surprise to anyone. I’d put money on either one, as they have both shown a lot of improvement over the last few weeks, and Stewart, in particular, is showing signs of getting his luck back. Carl Edwards is another guy that many think is gaining great lengths on road courses, but I do not know if he’s ready to compete with Gordon and Stewart yet. He’s definitely got the talent, but I think that he still has a little bit to learn. Kevin Harvick also has some great road course knowledge. Watch out for Kyle Busch, too. You’d be foolish to think that he won’t contend at some point on Sunday.
Let’s recap where the points stand before we head to Watkins Glen on Sunday.
1. Kyle Busch
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Carl Edwards
4. Jimmie Johnson
5. Jeff Burton
6. Jeff Gordon
7. Kasey Kahne
8. Greg Biffle
9. Tony Stewart
10. Denny Hamlin
11. Kevin Harvick
12. Clint Bowyer
I think before Sunday’s end, we’re going to see some big shakeups in the standings. Watch for Gordon and Stewart to be contenders and pull away from the field or at least dominate. They are the two to watch. Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are going to have something to say, but they have to get past the big boys first.