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NASCAR at ‘The GLEN’: Racers and Ringers Going for the Win

Rusty NormanThere will be a bunch of racers and a few ringers running for the win Sunday afternoon at Watkins Glen. I know I’ve said this often lately, but, I really do think this is going to be one of the most exciting NASCAR road races at The Glen in a long time. Not only is the competition among the teams closer than it has ever been, but, recent improvements to the track will make every lap more important than ever.

I have to agree with many of the closer observers and commentators that one of the best things they have done is pave the areas that used to be loose gravel pit run-off areas for slowing the cars down when they would lose control in the higher speed corner areas.

Now that those areas are paved, the drivers have a little more room for error. Last year, there would have been a caution flag thrown to pull them out of the pit. This year, they either have time to recover and return to racing or they hit the wall hopefully at a much reduced speed rather than getting stuck in the gravel pit or filling their splitters and grills up with rocks. After a trip through one of them, there was always a high possibility of a debris caution from all those rocks falling off the cars all around the track or a flat tire ruining someone’s day as a result of the rocks.

As I mentioned earlier, there are several reasons I think this could be one of the best races at The Glen in a long time, one of which is the number of good road racers (both ringers and regulars) in good equipment. NASCAR drivers and teams now look at the road race courses with the intention of performing well rather than just surviving. Many have improved their road racing skills and that makes for more possible winners on Sunday.

Some of the standouts this weekend will be names we’ve all heard before and have been mentioned often during the week leading up to this Sunday’s race. Names like Boris Said, Tony Stewart, Marcos Ambrose, Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon. Of course other strong road racers are regulars Kurt Bush, Juan Montoya, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and a couple of more ringers named Ron Fellows and Patrick Carpentier. Newer faces that could run up front would be Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Bush… and the list goes on and on, (do you begin to see what I’m talking about when it comes to the competition factor?)

Any one of the above listed drivers could win this race and since I am writing this without the benefit of qualifying results, I have to say, where they qualify could have as much to do with where they finish at the end of the day as anything else. A road racing course, and in particular Watkins Glen, is often more affected by where the drivers start in the field than at other type tracks. That doesn’t mean the winner WILL come from those starting up front, it just means their chances are better (statistically speaking of course.)

So, once again I am faced with a dilemma… who will win the race on Sunday afternoon? This year’s race is probably more of a mystery to me than any other year in recent history. That’s because of the reasons I mentioned earlier; the competition is just so close and there are those that are coming into this race with momentum. I really hate to say it, but even the “big Mo” doesn’t always tell the whole story, but, I am going to be watching Greg Biffle in particular this weekend because he has shown some new speed for the Roush Fords. Over the last several weeks he has been the most obvious Ford to be running up front on a consistent basis. He could win the race on Sunday.

Others I think will be running up front at the end are Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Juan Montoya, Kevin Harvick, Marcos Ambrose, Boris Said, Kurt Bush and (of course) Jimmie Johnson. All of these drivers are generally running at or near the front at road courses at some time or other nearer the end of the race. That’s what makes it so hard to pick a winner… any one of these and several others have a very good chance. I really don’t think any of us will know until the last several laps of the race (and that is even if we have green-white-checkered finishes with a double file restart or two.)

Still, throwing out all of my speculative ramblings, I have several I would like to see win and a few I think will win. I would like to see Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon or Mark Martin win just because I would like to see them win. As to the ones I think will win, I think Boris Said, Marcos Ambrose or Greg Biffle would be my strongest picks and out of those three I think it could be Greg Biffle… but I’m picking Marcos Ambrose.

See ya next time… Rusty

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© August 7, 2010 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman and NascarFansView.com

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By Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.