The Backstretch Blog's Race Day: On the Road, Again
NASCAR takes on the road course at Watkins Glen this weekend. It's one of only two road courses on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule this season. Of course next year, the roval at Charlotte will be added to the NASCAR post season.
People seam to get excited when the big clumsy Cup series ares take on the right and left handers. Because the cars aren't really made to race road courses, it always makes these races more interesting. It's hard to pass, even harder than usual. Patience is as important this weekend as it is at a short track like Bristol.
"You have to get aggressive, especially in the bus stop," said Paul Menard. "If you go through there two-wide, you're going to make contact. You just have to make sure you come out of it better than the other guy, but there is a lot of give-and-take through there early in the race. We'll see how aggressive people get given the new stage formats, though."
The stage racing does throw another strategy wrench into the weekend. Before, people just worked road course from the end backwards and had no concern if they were running 30th halfway through the race. With points on the line, that type of thinking will change for some teams.
"I think that stage racing in general has really ramped this up," said Jimmie Johnson. "And then the equality in the cars and how difficult it is to pass is another component to that. So I anticipate it being very exciting here."
The Glen is one of three tracks where Johnson has never won. There will be just five former race winners in Sunday's race. Kyle Busch has two wins in New York State. Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, AJ Allmendinger and Kevin Harvick each have a single win at the Glen.
"I like going to Watkins Glen," said Busch. It's a road course, but it's kind of a high speed road course. The difference in the two road courses, you think of Sonoma as like a Martinsville-type road course and you would think of Watkins Glen like a 2-mile oval, like a California pr Michigan-type road course."
Busch will start Sunday's race from the pole. Kyle Larson, Martin Truex, Jr., Chase Elliott and Daniel Suarez round out the top five starting positions.
The green flag is set to drop on the 'I love New York 355' at 3:18pm. You can watch the race on NBCSN.