Who knows what this weekend holds … if anyone ever thought for a moment that nothing unexpected ever happens in Nascar these days, maybe they should think again. Except for Jimmy Johnson and Kurt Bush starting on the front row, many of the faces fans would expect to see starting near the front just aren’t there.
Names like, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart are in the middle to the back of the pack. One can only think they hope to get their cars handling much better by the end of Happy Hour considering the way they qualified. If not, it could prove to be a very long day for them and their teams.
Some fans wonder why Nascar keeps the two road course races in the schedule mix when there are so many other oval tracks looking for a possible Nascar date. Others wonder why they don’t have more of them in the schedule. I’m one of the ones that likes both the oval tracks and the road courses they visit and I do agree with those that think at least one road course should be in the schedule during the actual Chase races.
Not many disagree with the thinking that Nascar drivers are the best and most versatile drivers in the world, because they drive on more types of race tracks than those in other series. Not only do they drive on more different types but most of them are competitive on all of them, at least when they have a chance to compete. Yes, some of the owners still bring in “road course ringers” to better their chances of having a good finish for their sponsors, but, many of the main drivers perform as well as any of the “ringers” that are brought in.
So, what do I mean by saying that?
Well, I think it is good to see some of the drivers that are more experienced in road courses being brought in, if, for no other reason, it adds a little diversity to the competition. Names like Ron Fellows and Boris Said are recognized by many Nascar fans even though they are probably better known as road course racers.
Boris Said is probably the better known of the two and, personally, I would like to see him get a regular ride for at least a year. I think he is very talented and could be very successful, given the chance to be in good, competitive equipment and also not having so much pressure to perform right off the bat. If he had a chance to gain more experience in the Cup cars without the pressure of having to perform to keep his sponsorship for more than a few races, I think he could produce some surprising results for the owner that gives him the chance.
Well, I suppose I could go on all day talking about many things that don’t really matter about the race on Sunday at the Glen, but I’m going to move on to which ones of the forty three in the field this fan thinks are going to finish in the top spots. I know I have been at a loss some weeks in the past this season for having a good feel for who will actually win and this weekend is no different. In my opinion, a road course is a place where anybody can win, but it’s more likely that several have a better chance than the others.
Now I won’t bore you with a bunch of talk about the whys and who’s and how’s, but I do have some very strong thoughts on the one that will actually win. If the last road course race tells anything at all about this one, I do think we will see some pretty strong contenders from Sonoma in the hunt for tomorrow’s race. Some names that immediately stand out are, Juan Montoya, Denny Hamlin, Boris Said, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne. A few others deserving mention would be Greg Biffle, Ron Fellows, Robby Gordon and Max Papis. I’m also of the opinion you can never count Jeff Gordon out of the mix by where he starts simply because he is such a strong road racer. If crew chief, Steve Letarte, gets the 24 car feeling right for Jeff, look out — it could be a repeat of what Marcos Ambrose did at Sonoma in June.
Although any of these could pull off the victory tomorrow, I don’t think many of them have much of a chance. A road course is all about speed and consistency and the one that generally wins has both all day long. I suspect the winner will more likely be either Marcos Ambrose or Jimmy Johnson. Since I like to pick the possible top five or six, here’s what I think the finishing order will be …
I would put the top six as, Jeff Gordon, Boris Said, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and Jimmy Johnson, with Marcos Ambrose bringing home the victory.
I think it is going to be interesting to see how long this race goes without a caution flag. If one comes out near the end, I look for real fireworks because of the double-file restart. With no yellow flag in the last fifteen or twenty laps, this fan expects it could be a relatively uneventful finish, depending on tire wear and fuel mileage. As it stands through all of the practices and qualifying, this race at the Glen could be one of the most surprising and interesting races of the year. Now, that’s not because of who might win … it is more who is going to solidify their place in the top twelve for the Chase and who is going kill their chances of getting in at all …
See ya next time …
(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)
© August 8, 2009 – all rights reserved
Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman