Race: Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen
Date: Sunday August 8th, 2010
Track: Watkins Glen International
Time: 1 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com
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This weekend, we are headed to another deviation from the typical circle track. We are going to Watkins Glen, where the boys will race through 11 turns on this road course. Road courses are not very prominent in NASCAR because their cars are not particularly set up for this type of driving. Also, these guys tend to leave the right turns to the IRL guys.
Watkins Glen, along with few other road courses we see in the NASCAR series, is a pretty cool race to watch because of the contact that these guys make on the track. It’s similar to short track racing because you can watch the drivers simply move guys out of their way by pushing on their fenders without causing serious damage or injury. That’s a huge difference between road course racing in NASCAR and road course racing in IRL. In IRL, there is a zero tolerance policy for contact because of the sheer speed of the cars and because the cars are open-wheel for potentially disastrous results should contact between 2 drivers occur.
This particular track is nearly 2.5 miles with 11 turns as I previously mentioned. It’s been around for quite a while, being completed in 1948.
The number one challenge at this track is position. Plain and simple, if a driver does not qualify well, it’s going to be a very long day of battling and trying to get to that top spot. Another important aspect of a road course is handling. Rarely do these guys have the challenge of getting their cars to turn in so many different directions around so many different types of turns. Making sure that the handling is working for the driver is one of the essential tasks of the crew and crew chief. If the handling isn’t there, a driver has no chance of qualifying well or moving through the field to get into that top spot.
We are getting to a point in the year where we see some teams begin to become more aggressive and more passionate about getting into that top 12 and maintaining their position. There is really only a month left of racing before the top 12 is secured and those guys go racing for the Championship.
This race will prove who’s got it and who doesn’t as we see the aggressiveness and fire come out. My picks for the top 3 are Juan Montoya, Tony Stewart, and Kyle Busch. I think that Montoya will take the win with Stewart and Busch rounding out the top 3. Kevin Harvick should also continue his strong runs with a solid top 10, if not a top 5 run. The Hendrick drivers of Gordon and Johnson are never ones to count out, but based on recent performance, I say that they will both have top 10 days but no win.
Here’s a recap of the current top 12 in the points as of Pocono:
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Jeff Gordon
3. Denny Hamlin
4. Jimmie Johnson
5. Jeff Burton
6. Kyle Busch
7. Kurt Busch
8. Tony Stewart
9. Matt Kenseth
10. Carl Edwards
11. Greg Biffle
12. Clint Bowyer
Realistically, Mark Martin may be the only driver outside that top 12 that can push his way in. He is only 34 points behind Bowyer. Jr. sits in 14th place, but he is a cool 129 points behind Bowyer. Jr.’s performance really hasn’t been stellar enough to say that he can get into that Chase. We will have to wait and see, but those guys behind Martin sure do have their work cut out for them. Perhaps this weekend’s race at Watkins Glen can be a turning point for them!