Busch And Ambrose Can Make Three Wins The Charm
Kyle Busch (#18 Combos Toyota) and Marcos Ambrose (#47 Kwik Fill-Red Apple-Zippo Toyota) are both looking for a trifecta of sorts at Watkins Glen International in the Zippo 200 on Saturday, Aug. 7.
Busch is on a record setting pace yet again. In 2008 he tied Sam Ard’s NASCAR Nationwide single season wins record of 10 victories. This season, Busch has made 17 starts, posting nine wins, 13 top fives, 14 top 10s and two poles. This season he has won half (52%) of his starts. He also has mounted three perfect Driver Ratings (150.0) this year at Iowa, Texas and Dover.
Busch has won the past two in a row (O’Reilly Raceway Park and Iowa Speedway), and once again he can tie the single season wins record (10 wins). A win would also make it three-consecutive victories for Busch, which would be the second time he has done that in his career (April, 2008) Ambrose broke into the winner’s column for the first time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2008 at Watkins Glen, and repeated at the 2.45-mile speedway last season.
Last year, Ambrose passed Busch late in the race with a maneuver Ambrose called a “dive bomb,” and one Busch called being “cheap-shotted,” to win.
Like Busch, Ambrose winning this weekend would be special because he would become the second driver in series history to win three-in-a-row at Watkins Glen International (Terry Labonte: 1994-’96).
Labonte is the all-time winner at The Glen with four victories – he was the inaugural race winner in 1981.
Canadian Road Course Specialists Toe The Line This Week At The Glen
Watkins Glen International takes on a foreign feel this week because not only will the normal series stars be competing, but also skilled Canadian road-course ‘ringers’ will be in the mix.
Toronto native Ron Fellows (#88 GT Vodka Chevy) has posted four career series wins, all on road courses, three at Watkins Glen (1998, ‘00, ’01), and his most recent in 2008 driving for JR Motorsports at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Fellows has made nine series starts at Watkins Glen posting three wins, five top fives and six top 10s. He also is tied for the series most poles (two) with Kurt Busch and Terry Labonte.
Montreal native, former F1 and Indy 500 champion Jacques Villeneuve (#32 Dollar General Toyota) will make his track debut driving for Braun Racing. Villeneuve has made three career series starts, two at his home track Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, where he posted a 16th-place finish in 2008 and a fourth-place finish in 2009. His third start was earlier this season at Road America, where he finished 25th.
Current NASCAR Canadian Tire Series point standings leader and Cambridge, Ontario native, J.R.Fitzpatrick (#7 Schick Hydro Chevy) will be making his second start of the season this Saturday at The Glen. His previous start was at Road America where he posted his first top-10 finish, a career-best finish of seventh.
In The Loop: The Glen Perfect Spot For A Roush Rebound
Though riding high in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with its first win of the season at Pocono, Roush Fenway Racing’s NASCAR Nationwide Series spirits deflated in Iowa.
Only one of its four entries finished in the top 10, and barely so. Carl Edwards’ #60 Ford finished 10th. The other three – Paul Menard, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Colin Braun – all finished 14th or worse.
So, surely this weekend means a lot for the team.
And again, a lot of the hopes rest on Edwards, who has quietly become a road course specialist.
He won the first of three road course events earlier this season, at Road America, posting a rare perfect Driver Rating of 150.0. Additionally he had an Average Running Position of 2.7, 21 Fastest Laps Run and 35 Laps Led.
In his 13-race NASCAR Nationwide Series road course career, Edwards has two wins (the other was in Montreal), six top fives and eight top 10s.
At Watkins Glen, Edwards has five starts, but only one top-10 finish – a third-place run last season. In that event, Edwards had a Driver Rating of 123.7 and an Average Running Position of 5.4. Overall at Watkins Glen, Edwards has a Driver Rating of 86.1, an Average Running Position of 14.7 and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 60.6%.
Menard has also showed promise on road courses, finishing in the top 10 in three of his eight career road course starts. Two of those top 10s came at Watkins Glen – an eighth in 2005 and a fourth in 2007.
Overall at Watkins Glen, Menard has better numbers than even Edwards. He has a Driver Rating of 95.2, an Average Running Position of 12.1, a Pass Differential (passes minus times passed) of plus-88 and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 62.6%.
The two wild cards of the group this weekend are Braun and Billy Johnson. Johnson, who runs with Roush’s GRAND-AM Continental Tire Series team, will make his first NASCAR national series start this weekend. He’ll fill-in for Stenhouse in the #6 Ford. Braun will make his first start at Watkins Glen. He has shown some road course prowess, winning the pole at Mexico in 2008 and finishing 11th with a Driver Rating of 96.1 at Road America earlier this season.
Bayne Could Prove To Be The Real Deal For Diamond Waltrip Racing
The fresh faced 19-year old driver from Knoxville, Tenn. named Trevor Bayne (#99 Out! Pet Care Toyota) has become one of the hottest drivers in the NASCAR Nationwide Series garage. This past weekend he became the youngest driver in series history to record three consecutive poles, joining the likes of Jeff Gordon (1992); his owner Michael Waltripm(1989); Mark Martin (1987); and Sam Ard (1983), to do the front row trifecta.
Bayne is running his first full-schedule this season and has posted four top fives in his last six starts including three in a row.
“We have run really well the past couple of months and have a lot of momentum on our side,” Bayne said.
Bayne got his start in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East where he finished the 2008 season fourth in the standings.
His first start in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2009 was at Bristol Motor Speedway for owner Jimmy Means. He went on to make 15 starts that year for multiple owners, including Means, Michael Waltrip, and Bryan Mullet, posting two top 10s at O’Reilly Raceway Park and Richmond International Raceway.
This weekend at The Glen will be Bayne’s second attempt at road course competition in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. His first road course race came earlier this season at Road America where he started 20th and finished 10th. Bayne currently is eighth in the point standings after moving up one spot with his fifth-place finish at Iowa last weekend.
Series Regulars Building Momentum In The Standings
With 14 races remaining on the schedule the series only regulars have built some serious steam coming out of the three past stand alone events (Gateway, ORP and Iowa). With two stand-alone races left to go (Montreal, Aug. 31 and Gateway, Oct. 23), Justin Allgaier (#12 Verizon Wireless Dodge), Steven Wallace (#66 5-Hour Energy Toyota), Jason Leffler (#38 Great Clips Toyota) and Michael Annett (#15 Northland Oil Toyota) are all battling for a top five spot in the final series standings.
Justin Allgaier leads the group in the series standings, currently fourth, 513-points behind his Penske Racing teammate and standings leader,
Brad Keselowski (#22 Discount Tire Dodge). Allgaier finished eighth last week at Iowa. He has posted one win (Bristol), five top fives, 12 top 10s and one pole this season. Last season he started 27th and went on to finish 17th at Watkins Glen which is his best road course finish to date.
Following Allgaier in the points is Steven Wallace currently seventh in the standings. Wallace is having one of his best seasons of his career. So far in 2010 he has posted one top five and 10 top 10s – a career high. He has rallied off three-consecutive top 10s. Wallace has made three starts at Watkins Glen posting his best finish last season (12th). He finished ninth at Road America earlier this season.
Jason Leffler has had an up and down season, currently 10th in the series standings. But Leffler has persevered and looks to have righted the ship after posting his fourth top five and seventh top 10 of the season at Iowa last weekend. Leffler has made five starts at Watkins Glen, posting one top 10.
Leffler also finished in the top 10 at Road America earlier this season.
Michael Annett gained three spots in the series standings last week after posting his best finish of the season (seventh) at his home-track, Iowa Speedway. Annett is just 101 points behind 10th-place Jason Leffler in the standings.
“We’ve put ourselves in a really good position with this run,” Annett said. “We entered the 2010 season with the goal of finishing in the top-10 in points, and we’ve almost hit that mark. With continued hard work and strong execution each week, I’m determined that we can make it where we deserve to be,” said Annett.
Annett has made one start at Watkins Glen, last season where he finished 20th.
NNS Etc.: Watkins Glen International Edition
► Two Series Debuts This Week:
Two drivers will be making their NASCAR Nationwide Series debuts this week, Grand-Am Continental Tire Series driver Billy Johnson (#6 CitiFinancial Ford) and former F1 driver Nelson Piquet Jr. (#27 Baker Curb Racing Ford).
Johnson teamed with co-driver Jack Roush Jr. to give car owner Jack Roush Sr. his 400th career victory earlier this season in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This weekend, the 23-year-old Californian will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut driving for Roush Fenway Racing.
“It’s a huge honor and I’m extremely excited to do this race,” Johnson said. “I’m very thankful to the whole Roush organization for giving me this opportunity. We’ve got a good car underneath us with a great team and crew chief, and I’m looking forward to the race.”
Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jr., 25, will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut in the Zippo 200 at The Glen on Saturday as well.
Piquet Jr. made his NASCAR debut at Daytona International Speedway in February finishing sixth in the 2010 NextEra Energy Resources 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. He has recorded three top-10 finishes in four Camping World Truck Series starts in 2010.
► Ambrose and Said On Teleconference:
The two-time defending Zippo 200 winner Marcos Ambrose was on the NASCAR weekly teleconference this week with Boris Said (#09 Robby Benton Ford). The entire transcript can be found on NASCARMedia.com.
►Double Duty Drivers Road Racing:
Thirteen double duty drivers will be making starts in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Watkins Glen: Ryan Newman (#1 Phoenix Construction Chevy), Kyle Busch, Joey Logano (#20 GameStop Toyota), Brad Keselowski (#22 Ruby Discount Dodge), Kevin Harvick (#33 Jimmy John’s Chevy), Marcos Ambrose, Carl Edwards (#60 Fastenal Ford), Joe Nemechek (#87 NEMCO Motorsports Chevy), Boris Said, Ron Fellows, Tony Ave (#35 TriStar Motorsports Chevy), Michael McDowell (#81 MacDonald Motorsports Dodge),
Raybestos Rookie of the Year Standings
Driver Team Points
1. Brian Scott Braun 191
2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. RFR 173
3. Colin Braun RFR 161
4. James Buescher N/A 97
Up Next: Michigan International Speedway
The NASCAR Nationwide Series heads toward the Irish Hills of Michigan next week to the Michigan International Speedway for the CARFAX 250, the 23rd race of the season.
The action kicks off on Saturday, Aug. 14 with the race coverage starting at 1 p.m. on ESPN and the green flag dropping at 2 p.m.
The series standings leader Brad Keselowski is the defending race winner. Brian Vickers sat on the pole.
Next Race: ZIPPO 200 at the Glen
The Place: Watkins Glen International
(2.45 Mile Paved Road Course)
The Date: Saturday, August 7
The Time: 2:00 p.m. ET
The Distance: 82 laps/200.9 miles
TV: ESPN, 1:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio (Local-WPGI–FM 100.9, WRCE-AM 1490)
2009 Winner: Marcos Ambrose
2009 Pole Winner: Kevin Harvick
Schedule prior to race day (times ET): Friday: Final Practice, 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.; Qualifying, 9:10 a.m.
2010 Driver Standings
1 Brad Keselowski 3,349
2 Carl Edwards 3,118
3 Kyle Busch 2,876
4 Justin Allgaier 2,833
5 Paul Menard 2,620
6 Kevin Harvick 2,609
7 Steve Wallace 2,488
8 Trevor Bayne 2,365
9 Brendan Gaughan 2,347
10 Jason Leffler 2,326
Tire: Goodyear Eagle Road Course Radials
Number of Tires: Nationwide: 1,150
Tire Code: D-4402 (same on all four tire positions)
Tire Circumference: 88.5 in.
Technical Inspection Inflation:
Left Front -- 23 psi; Right Front -- 23 psi;
Left Rear -- 20 psi; Right Rear -- 20 psi
Minimum Recommended Inflation:
Left Front -- 22 psi; Right Front -- 20 psi;
Left Rear -- 17 psi; Right Rear -- 17 psi
Notes: Teams in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series will run the same tire code at Watkins Glen this weekend . . . Goodyear's road course set-up calls for teams to run the same tire code on all four tire positions . . . this is the first time NASCAR teams will run this particular code (D-4402) . . . this tire came out of a Goodyear tire test at Watkins Glen on June 1-2 . . . Sprint Cup drivers participating in that test were Marcos Ambrose, Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon . . . compared to what was run at Watkins Glen last year, this tire features a new compound and construction that will help give the cars more grip . . . while there is no provision in the NASCAR rules for Sprint Cup teams to run in rainy conditions, Goodyear has brought 600 wet weather tires for use by Nationwide teams . . . as on all NASCAR road courses, teams will not run inner liners in their tires at Watkins Glen.