The drivers are headed to Watkins Glen this weekend. The Glen is a 2.45 mile, 11 turn road course, the second on the NASCAR schedule.
There are only 43 drivers on the entry list, which means there would be no “go or go home” drivers; all 43 cars will get to race. You can see the entry list for the Finger Lakes 355 here.
In last years Watkin’s Glen, Marcos Ambrose beat Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski to the checkered flag in a two lap dash to win his first ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race. It was his first victory in 105 starts in the Cup series. Ambrose said as he pulled into victory lane, “”This is almost surreal.”
Ambrose has won all three Nationwide races he’s entered at Watkins Glen, and in three Cup starts here, he’s finished with one second and two thirds, including an impressive drive from last to third in 2008.
Watkins Glen is always an exciting race if you like to watch the road courses. They aren’t everyone’s favorites but they sure do keep the NASCAR season interesting. Just last year, do you remember how the race ended with the caution? David Reutimann and David Ragan crashed violently entering the second turn, with Ragan slamming head-on into the guard rail and Reutimann’s car bouncing hard off the barrier and sliding upside down across the track. Here is the video:
I’d be watching for Ambrose to pull off another win. Other drivers to watch for would be Tony Stewart who has an average finish of 7th at the Glen, with 7 top fives and 5 wins in his 13 starts at the track. Stewart is currently 5th in the Chase, -53 points behind leader, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Speaking of Jr, its worthy to note that he is not that successful at the road courses. Over the past 5 years, his best finish has been 15th (which was last year). His other finishing positions were 26th, 39th, 22nd, and 42nd. Fear not Jr. Nation, Jr. is pretty safe in regards to staying in the Chase regardless of how he does at The Glen.
We need to take a look at how some of the ‘bubble’ drivers fair at Watkins Glen. Carl Edwards goes into this race currently in 12th position, but without a win, or gaining enough points to break into the top ten – Edward’s chances are dwindling. Edwards has finished in the top 10 five times out of the seven times he has raced at the track. Could he get a win at the Glen this weekend?
Jeff Gordon is another driver that each week is really going to matter for. After winning the rain shortened race at Pocono last weekend, Gordon edged Kyle Busch out of the 2nd Wild Card spot and regained his entry into the Chase… but how easy would it be for Gordon to fall back out? Real easy. Gordon needs to win again, and just finish better then all the other drivers currently in the top ten. Edwards is currently ahead of Gordon in the points, so a win by Edwards will automatically knock Gordon back out of the Chase.
Edward’s is going to be racing in Saturday’s Nationwide Race at the Glen… This will be his FIRST NATIONWIDE START of this season. One could think Edward’s is using the opportunity to get another chance of practice at the road course to prepare for the Cup race. It makes sense, and with Edward’s needing a win so badly, it is a smart idea.
Jimmie Johnson is favored by many to take home the NSCS Championship once again this year… but did you know Watkins Glen is one of only four tracks Johnson has never won at? Johnson’s average finish at the Glen is 14.2, he has 5 top tens out of ten starts but has only finished in the top 5 three times…
Crazy stuff isn’t it?
Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman are all drivers that could steal away the No.2 Wild Card spot still. These drivers all already have one win; two would make things very interesting.
Friday the NSCS cars start practice off at noon, with final practice ending at 5:30pm. Qualifying is on Saturday at 11:40am. The race is scheduled to start, Sunday at 1pm.