Author Topic: I'm In Mourning  (Read 1811 times)


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I'm In Mourning
« on: August 12, 2007, 03:03:49 PM »
This weekend at Watkins Glen is the last road course race of the season.  In simple terms, that sucks.  We have to wait more than 10 months to enjoy another road course event, and that makes me mourn.  :(

The Glen is the "easier" of the two Cup road courses.  Its turns aren't quite as tight as the turns at Infineon Raceway, and the straightaways are much faster.  It is certainly not an easy track, but every year more of the Cup "regulars" seem to perform better at Watkins Glen than they do at Sonoma.

There are many pieces of the puzzle that must fall into place to win at The Glen, but on the track, you must get through Turn 1, the "bus stop", and Turn 11 in order to have a shot at visiting Victory Lane.

Turn 1
A few years ago track officials decided to pave outside of Turn 1.  Prior to that, it was a huge gravel trap.  Every year you would see guys go into Turn 1 way too hot and end up stuck in the midst of the "kitty litter".  While the grass and gravel aren't there anymore, Turn 1 is still a very difficult turn.  You are under heavy braking going into this right-hander.  You'll hear a lot about "wheel hop" from drivers as they enter Turn 1.  Wheel hop is what happens when they hit the brakes really hard, and a little too late.  The pavement in the Turn 1 entry is already a little bumpy.  When you hit the brakes too hard, the rear wheels start hopping, which usually ends with you sitting backwards outside of Turn 1 watching the field go by you.  It sounds stupid, but the key to getting through Turn 1 really well is to "slow down to go fast".  Brake a little bit earlier than your instincts tell you to, and get back hard in the gas off the corner.

The "Bus Stop"
The backstretch at Watkins Glen is by far the fastest portion of the track.  A lot of people think "hey, it's a road course, so it's slow speeds".  Well, going down the backstretch at The Glen you get up to around 180 MPH.  Certainly not slow.  Toward the end of the backstretch, in order to get the cars slowed down for the next turn, the track has a chicane, otherwise known as "the bus stop".  Like Turn 1, drivers are under very heavy braking headed into the bus stop.  Missing the bus stop will cost you many positions.  The penalty for going straight through it?  You must come to a complete stop before continuing on.  Get through the chicane well, and you'll likely pick up a lot of positions.

Turn 11
Turn 11 is the last turn (right-hander) before coming back down the front straightaway to the start/finish line.  Not to beat a dead horse, but Turn 11 is yet another example of "you gotta slow down to go fast".  Lots of passes will be made in Turn 11 as drivers enter the corner too hot.  Get slowed down quickly, and get back to the gas hard, digging off the corner and building big speed headed to the line.

Who to Watch
Who? #25, Casey Mears
Why? Mears has shown impressive improvement over the summer, and in particular, his road course prowess.  Look for a solid Top 15 out of the #25 team, and if all goes well for him, he just might pull off another Top 10.

Who? #21, Boris Said
Why? It sounds weird hearing "Boris Said in the Wood Brothers #21".  You know what, I'm officially beginning the campaign for the Wood Brothers to put Boris in the car full time in 2008!  But I digress.  After the driver change, he'll have to start at the rear of the field, but look for Boris to be in the Top 10 by the midway point of the race.  Once he gets there, more than likely he'll stay there.  Should be some excellent points, and just might place the #21 back into the coveted "Top 35", guaranteeing them a starting position next weekend at Michigan.

Who? #96, Ron Fellows
Why? While he hasn't won in the Cup Series, Fellows has won at The Glen in both the Busch and the Truck Series.  The #96 has run well on the road courses the last couple of years, including a 3rd place finish at Infineon last season by Terry Labonte.  He won't win, but look for a solid Top 10 run out of Mr. Fellows.

Who? #42, Juan Pablo Montoya
Why?  It's a road course.  He's JPM.  He just might win again, which would be a first in NASCAR history.  If Montoya can pull off the win this weekend at The Glen, he would become the first driver to ever win three road course events in a single season.  Will it happen?  I don't think so, but I wouldn't bet against him gathering up another Top 5.

Who? #26, Jamie McMurray
Why? McMurray's road course runs over the last couple of years have been nothing less than impressive.  If not for a couple of pit road mistakes, he might have a couple of wins on the road courses.  After running out of fuel earlier in the year at Sears Point, look for the #26 crew to make amends this weekend at Watkins Glen.  I think McMurray is a sure bet for a Top 10 finish this weekend.

Who's Going to Win
I don't know if I can pick just one winner for this weekend.  There are six guys that I think have a legitimate shot at pulling off the 'W' at The Glen: Jeff Gordon, Robby Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Jamie McMurray.  It is rare that so many drivers have a legit shot at winning a single race, so it makes it ridiculous to try and pick just one.  However, I'm going to go out on a limb and try it anyways.

Two months ago Jeff Gordon had a win stolen from him by NASCAR's ridiculous penalty at Sears Point.  This weekend, thanks to the rain, he starts in front of the field.  I think at the end of the day, he'll still be leading the field to the checkers.  Look for the #24 Dupont Chevrolet in Victory Lane at Watkins Glen this weekend.

Happy racing.


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Re: I'm In Mourning
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2007, 03:21:21 PM »
Robbie Gordon is on a mission today. He's my pick to win.
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Re: I'm In Mourning
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2007, 05:11:55 PM »
My sentiments exactly on your who will win segment. You just cant give the pole to Gordon and not like him to win. 3's seem to be the order today with Harvick, Montoya and Fellows going for records involving 3 at the Glen this weekend. Cant count them out along with Jamie Mac and big shrub. Boris is a sentimental favorite along with Patrick, my countryman, Carpentier. By the way, thanks to Jimmie Spencer for correcting that nob on Raceday!, with the pronounciation. But maybe the guy with the most to prove is Robbie The Brat Gordon. Would not be dissapointed to see any of these guys win.
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