Finger Lakes 355 Betting News and Notes
Finger Lakes 355 Betting News and Notes
Odds & Ends - Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen International Data
Race #: 22 of 36 (08-12-12)
Track Size: 2.45-miles
Number of Turns: 7
Race Length: 90 laps / 220.5 miles
Top 12 Driver Rating at Watkins Glen
Tony Stewart 124.8
Marcos Ambrose 118.0
Juan Pablo Montoya 112.6
Kyle Busch 106.8
Jimmie Johnson 100.7
Kurt Busch 94.7
Denny Hamlin 93.5
Carl Edwards 93.5
Jeff Gordon 90.1
Kevin Harvick 89.2
Brad Keselowski 88.1
Martin Truex Jr. 87.6
Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2011 races (seven total) at Watkins Glen International.
2011 pole winner: Kyle Busch, Toyota (126.421 mph, 69.767 sec., 08-13-11)
2011 race winner: Marcos Ambrose, Ford (99.417 mph, 2:16:02, 08-14-11)
Track qualifying record: Kyle Busch, Toyota (126.421 mph, 69.767 sec., 08-13-11)
Track race record: Mark Martin, Ford (103.030 mph, 2:11:54, 08-13-95)
Re: Finger Lakes 355 Betting News and Notes
Driver Highlights - Watkins Glen
Marcos Ambrose (No. 9 Stanley Ford)
-- One win, four top fives, four top 10s
-- Average finish of 2.3
-- Average Running Position of 9.8, third-best
-- Driver Rating of 118.0, second-best
-- 79 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
-- Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 119.907 mph
-- 110 Quality Passes, 13th-most
Kurt Busch (No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Inc. Chevrolet)
-- One top five, four top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 19.8
-- Average Running Position of 16.4, 12th-best
-- Driver Rating of 94.7, sixth-best
-- 47 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
-- 295 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 119.319 mph, fifth-fastest
Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Toyota)
-- One win, three top fives, six top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 9.3
-- Average Running Position of 12.1, fifth-best
-- Driver Rating of 106.8, fourth-best
-- 41 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
-- 284 Green Flag Passes, 13th-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 119.336 mph, fourth-fastest
-- 437 Laps in the Top 15 (68.9%), third-most
-- 145 Quality Passes, fourth-most
Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)
-- Three top fives, five top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 8.7
-- Average Running Position of 13.1, sixth-best
-- Driver Rating of 93.5, eighth-best
-- 14 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
-- 325 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 118.910 mph, 10th-fastest
-- 428 Laps in the Top 15 (67.5%), fourth-most
-- 137 Quality Passes, 10th-most
Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet)
-- Four wins, six top fives, nine top 10s; two poles
-- Average finish of 14.5
-- Average Running Position of 14.3, 10th-best
-- Driver Rating of 90.1, 10th-best
-- 19 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
-- 312 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 118.933 mph, ninth-fastest
-- 384 Laps in the Top 15 (60.6%), ninth-most
-- 143 Quality Passes, fifth-most
Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota)
-- One top five, four top 10s
-- Average finish of 17.2
-- Average Running Position of 13.2, seventh-best
-- Driver Rating of 93.5, seventh-best
-- 11 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 119.122 mph, seventh-fastest
-- 388 Laps in the Top 15 (71.6%), eighth-most
-- 141 Quality Passes, eighth-most
Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet)
-- One win, two top fives, six top 10s
-- Average finish of 12.9
-- Average Running Position of 15.7, 11th-best
-- Driver Rating of 89.2, 11th-best
-- 292 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 118.692 mph, 13th-fastest
-- 402 Laps in the Top 15 (63.4%), fifth-most
-- 116 Quality Passes, 12th-most
Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Cortez Silver Chevrolet)
-- Three top fives, five top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 14.2
-- Average Running Position of 10.0, fourth-best
-- Driver Rating of 100.7, fifth-best
-- 21 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 119.302 mph, sixth-fastest
-- 504 Laps in the Top 15 (79.5%), second-most
-- 151 Quality Passes, third-most
Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge)
-- One top five, one top 10
-- Average finish of 11.0
-- Driver Rating of 88.1, 12th-best
-- 12 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 118.806 mph, 12th-fastest
Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Target Chevrolet)
-- One win, two top fives, four top 10s
-- Average finish of 11.4
-- Average Running Position of 8.4, second-best
-- Driver Rating of 112.6, third-best
-- 50 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 119.717 mph, third-fastest
-- 401 Laps in the Top 15 (88.7%), sixth-most
-- 138 Quality Passes, ninth-most
Tony Stewart (No. 14 Office Depot / Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
-- Five wins, seven top fives, 10 top 10s
-- Average finish of 7.1
-- Series-best Average Running Position of 5.0
-- Series-best Driver Rating of 124.8
-- Series-high 105 Fastest Laps Run
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 119.891 mph, second-fastest
-- Series-high 613 Laps in the Top 15 (96.7%)
-- Series-high 179 Quality Passes
Martin Truex Jr. (No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota)
-- Two top fives, three top 10s
-- Average finish of 14.3
-- Average Running Position of 13.8, eighth-best
-- Driver Rating of 87.1, 13th-best
-- 353 Laps in the Top 15 (65.1%), 10th-most
-- 143 Quality Passes, fifth-most
Re: Finger Lakes 355 Betting News and Notes
Watkins Glen Preview
By Micah Roberts
Jeff Gordon halted a 31-race winless streak by winning the rain shortened Pocono race last week for his 86th career win. The win pushed Gordon into a tie for the 12th and final Chase position with five races to go by virtue of having the most points among drivers with one win. If the Chase were to begin today, Gordon would advance over Ryan Newman due to having one more top-5 finish on the year than Newman.
Despite Gordon's 2012 bad luck, which gave the impression he would have no shot at making the Chase just a few weeks ago, the crew over at the LVH Super Book have stayed steady with Gordon on his Championship odds at 15/1 (Bet $100 to win $1,500). Gordon's car has never been in doubt all season, which is why despite not winning the last 31 races, he was still respected enough to never have opening odds offered at higher than 12/1 during any race.
To give an example of how respectfully low that number was before Gordon finally won, consider that Newman was 100/1 to win the title.
"(The Pocono win) only puts more pressure on us over these next several weeks, but we're ready for the challenge," Gordon said earlier this week. "With all we've been through this year and this team staying together while not pointing fingers, we knew if we could get to Victory Lane it would make us stronger. We've put together a string of good runs and finishes, but we have to keep fighting for wins. I don't know if one win will be good enough to secure a wildcard spot."
Following the Pocono win, the LVH now has Gordon listed at 10/1 odds to win the Championship.
The two other drivers still hoping for a shot at the Chase that have a win on the season are Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. Each are falling fast of late, but could pass both Newman and Gordon with a win within these next five races.
The five tracks all these hungry drivers will have to battle and have their fate ultimately decided by begins on the road course of Watkins Glen this week. They'll then visit the 2-mile oval at Michigan, the half-mile short track at Bristol, the 1.5-mile high banked track at Atlanta and the three-quarter-mile flat track of Richmond.
That is about as diverse as a schedule can get over five-race stretch and will take a driver just as diverse to get the job done. Between having the Hendrick Motorsports advantage and also having a very diverse background on all tracks, Gordon is right back in the mix of things. We could possibly see all four Hendrick cars in the 12-car "Chase for the Championship," something we all thought -- except for the LVH -- was virtually impossible.
Gordon can quickly take care of business this week by winning at Watkins Glen, a track he's won at four times, but none since 2001. Gordon also has five wins on the road course of Sonoma, but none there since 2006. He's still been competitive on the road courses, finishing sixth at Sonoma in late June, but the competition is much better than it used to be in the past.
"We've not run very well at Watkins Glen in recent years and it's been very disappointing to me and the team," Gordon said, "but I'm optimistic because I felt we made big improvements at Sonoma. We tested at Road Atlanta before that race, and I think it's a better track for Watkins Glen than it is for Sonoma. But we won't really know until we get on the track. I always love the road courses and Watkins Glen is always one of my favorites. It's a fast road course and you've got to have grip and comfort in that car through the esses and the high speed corners. You've got to attack the race track in the braking zones, and the car has got to be there for you and stick. Recently, though, I just feel like we've been missing a little something here."
Taking over the road course crown from Gordon was Tony Stewart, who has five Watkins Glen wins since Gordon won his last.
"When you've won five races, it gives you that confidence that you know how to win, and know what you have to do to get to victory lane," Stewart said. "I know what feel I need when we get here. It's just a matter of going out and practicing and putting yourself in that position."
Juan Pablo Montoya has captured a couple road wins and Marcos Ambrose won at the Glen last year. For Ambrose, he has an impossible, but true, average finish of 2.3 in four starts.
Even though the drivers make both right and left turns at Sonoma and Watkins Glen, the two tracks are about as different as New Hampshire and Homestead are compared to each other. Sonoma is the technical course with elevation changes where the driver is the key component. A Sonoma lap is about 30 mph slower than Watkins Glen, a track that allows for the car to be more relative.
Look for the regulars to be hunting for another win with the Michael Waltrip drivers having a shot as well. Clint Bowyer won at Sonoma in June and Martin Truex Jr. has always fared well at Watkins Glen. Brian Vickers will be driving the No. 55 MWR entry. Vickers finished fourth at Sonoma and will be using the same car again this week.
Top-5 Finish Prediction:
1) #14 Tony Stewart (6/1)
2) #9 Marcos Ambrose (9/2)
3) #24 Jeff Gordon (6/1)
4) #42 Juan Pablo Montoya (10/1)
5) #33 Clint Bowyer (20/1)
Re: Finger Lakes 355 Betting News and Notes
Driver Notes & Quotes for Finger Lakes 355 at Watkins Glen
MARCOS AMBROSE ON WATKINS GLEN: “Watkins Glen is one of my favorite race tracks and it’s definitely been good to me in the past. It will always have a special place in my heart because it’s where I got my first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win. It’s a track that suits my driving style, and I have a lot of success there in both the Nationwide and Cup Series. I have a lot of good memories from our win there last year, and I’mhopeful we can go out and win No. 2 this weekend. I’d like nothing more than to be climbing out of my Stanley Ford in Victory Lane at the end of the day on Sunday. My team has worked extremely hard the last few weeks and it would be a good shot of momentum for the second half of the season if we could pull off a win this weekend.”
AMBROSE CHASSIS SELECTION: The No. 9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 772 for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Watkins Glen. This Stanley Ford was run previously this season at Sonoma.
ARIC ALMIROLA CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 43 team has prepared chassis No. 760 for the Watkins Glen race. This car was last run one year ago at the 2011 Watkins Glen race.
GREG BIFFLE ON WATKINS GLEN: “I like road course racing. It breaks up the season a little. We’ve had a couple of top-10 finishes at Watkins Glen and I think it’s reasonable to shoot for a top-10 finish this weekend. There are a few drivers in this series who have a lot of road course experience and if I can just hold my own with them and get out of there with a top-10 or top-five finish, I think that would be a reasonable expectation.”
BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-764 Last ran Sonoma – finished 7th
MATT KENSETH ON WATKINS GLEN: “I think probably for me the most important part to your lap time at Watkins Glen is getting through the ‘esses’ the fastest. The more throttle you can use going up the hill and through the esses, the less you have to lift. It seems like that really adds a lot, or takes a lot away from your lap time, because that back stretch is long. All the turns are important and unique at Watkins Glen. When it comes to racing, I think the last turn is very important to get off that and into Turn one so that you don’t get passed there. The esses are always important leading up to the ‘bus stop’ because that is another passing zone. The more cushion you can get through the esses and the top of the hill, the less likely you are to get passed.”
KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-771 (Last run at Sonoma)
CARL EDWARDS ON WATKINS GLEN: “I feel pretty good about Watkins Glen. We sat on the pole there a few years ago and had some good runs and almost won the race one year. We were running second and I ran off the second to last corner trying real hard. We have run really well there and I like that race track. To me it is the road course that suits my style more than any other I have been on. It is a really fun race.”
EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The Fastenal Blue Team will bring chassis RK-816 to Watkins Glen this weekend. Edwards raced this chassis at Sonoma in June where he finished 21st.
BRAD KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: “Watkins Glen is an extremely fast road course. It’s not nearly as technical as Sonoma and it doesn’t require as much finesse, but you still have to hit your marks. At the Glen you need to concentrate on where you can brake heavily and where you can put the power down when you need to so that you carry big runs down the straightaway. To me, Watkins Glen is more of a stock car driver’s road course. You can throw your car around a little more than Sonoma, especially with the new runoff areas, because you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in the sand traps anymore. I’m still learning how to be a better road course racer, but it’s starting to click with me. I was really proud of our second-place run at the Glen last year. Hopefully we can be one spot better on Sunday.”
KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller LiteDodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-806 during Sunday’s Finger Lakes 335 at the Glen at Watkins Glen International (WGI). Keselowski last raced this chassis to a 12th-place finish at Sonoma in June.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR. ON WATKINS GLEN: “With me and a road course, it’s a lottery. I’ve had some good runs at Watkins Glen and had some fast carsthere. When we went there in 2008 with Tony (Eury) Jr., we rained out qualifying so we started up front and we led quite a good portion. We were really fast. I know I can go around there. It’s just straightaway, turn, straightaway, turn, and that’s really what I’ve been doing all my life. It’s a lot easier than Sonoma, a lot less technical. We showed up at the Road Atlanta test last week with the same problems as Sonoma and the same disappointment with the car. Then we made a lot of changes and a few of the changes in particular revolutionized the way the car drove and the way it felt. The stop watch was way faster so I’m excited. I’ve been real happy to go to all the racetracks this year. I particularly don’t look forward to going to Sonoma and Watkins Glen as much as I do the ovals, but I’m excited about Watkins Glen this trip. Hopefully we can go there and be competitive.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON ON WATKINS GLEN: “The thing that gets me at The Glen so much is really fuel mileage. My driving style requires us to stop usually an additional time and I don’t know how to run a fast enough pace and save fuel at the same time there. It really gets me. I think back to a Nationwide race where I was driving Junior’s car and ran out (of fuel) with a few laps to go. It just happens to me there more than really anywhere. So, I’m hopeful that the EFI and the functionality of the EFI will help me there. And we’re working hard. We tested two days ago I guess it was, getting ready for The Glen. So, we’re putting in the whole effort. Hopefully I can be nice on the fuel mileage.”
TONY STEWART ON WATKINS GLEN: “It’s a race that we always look forward to. We’ve had a lot of success there and it’s just fun. It’s like taking Sonoma and just multiplying the speed times three. It’s just a lot faster track. It still has the same elevation changes, but you’re just running a lot quicker. Both Sonoma and Watkins Glen are two places on the schedulethat we really enjoy coming to.
“When you’ve won five races, it gives you that confidence that you know how to win, and know what you have to do to get to victory lane. I know what feel I need when we get here. It’s just a matter of going out and practicing and putting yourself in that position.”
KEVIN HARVICK ON WATKINS GLEN: ”Watkins Glen (International) is really fast, so the biggest thing there is to get your car good under braking so you can make passes during the race. Usually you can gain the most time is in the braking zones.”
HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 395 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Seriesstable. This No. 29 Chevrolet was built new for competition in 2012 and was put through its first competitive laps at Sonoma when Harvick brought home a 16th-place finish after starting from the 26th position.
KASEY KAHNE ON WATKINS GLEN: “The toughest part of Watkins Glen for me is braking. You get on the brakes a lot harder than at Sonoma. But we’ve done a lot of road course testing this year, and that’s something I’ve worked on. Hopefully that extra practice will help this week.”
JEFF GORDON ON WATKINS GLEN: “(The Pocono win) only puts more pressure on us over these next several weeks, but we’re ready for the challenge. With all we’ve been through this year and this team staying together while not pointing fingers, we knew if we could get to Victory Lane it would make us stronger. We’ve put together a string of good runs and finishes, but we have to keep fighting for wins. I don’t know if one win will be good enough to secure a wildcard spot.
“We’ve not run very well at Watkins Glen in recent years and it’s been very disappointing to me and the team, but I’m optimistic because I felt we made big improvements at Sonoma. We tested at Road Atlanta before that race, and I think it’s a better track for Watkins Glen than it is for Sonoma. But we won’t really know until we get on the track. I always love the road courses and Watkins Glen is always one of my favorites. It’s a fast road course and you’ve got to have grip and comfort in that car through the esses and the high speed corners. You’ve got to attack the race track in the braking zones, and the car has got to be there for you and stick. Recently, though, I just feel like we’ve been missing a little something here.”
RYAN NEWMAN ON WATKINS GLEN: “I like road courses. They are difficult to pass on. It seems like there are only a couple of passing zones. I’ve always said the more corners there are without passing zones, the more opportunities there are to fall behind the guy who’s in front of the guy who’s in front of you. Road courses are unique in their own right. I wish we had a third one because I think they’re fun. To me, Watkins Glen provides better racing than Sonoma and I personally enjoy it a bit more. I really enjoy the challenge, the hustle of the racecar, the heavy braking. It’s not the easiest place to pass. Everybody kind of knows that. It’s a track-position race and fuel mileage has become a big part of the racing there. It’s usually a two-stop fuel race. You don’t get a lot of chances to work on your racecar, similar to places like Loudon and Richmond. To me, it’s just fun to hustle those cars around the racetrack. In road-course racing, the driver, in my mind, can make up more than he can at an oval just being able to hustle a car. You have the added mannerism; I guess you could say, of braking. When you brake at short tracks, it’s not the same as when you brake and downshift. So, you have to be a smooth downshifter, you have to be a good braker. Obviously, you have to turn right. There are extra characteristics, I guess, that you have to include at road courses that you don’t have to include at ovals. That separates the men from the boys, typically. We look forward to going there and doing well.”
PAUL MENARD ON WATKINS GLEN: “The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the most competitive series in the world and we race the same guys every weekend. We’ve had some of the best (road course drivers) in the world like Boris Said and Ron Fellows struggle at Watkins Glen (International). Last year we were actually in position to gain a lot of points for the Wild Card position in the Chase (for the NASCAR Sprint Cup) and we blew a left-front tire with a couple laps to go. Little things like that ruin your finish.”
MENARD CHASSIS CHOICE: Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 361 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 27 Chevrolet was last seen on track at Watkins Glen in August 2011, where Menard finished in the 32nd position.
JAMIE MCMURRAY ON WATKINS GLEN: “I enjoy running the road course, at Watkins Glen. It’s fun to do something a little bit different than the usual, all left-hand turns. This track is really fast and allows you a few more opportunities to pass versus Sonoma. One of my favorite parts is If you can manage to get up the hill through the esses real well it gives you a good opportunity down the backstretch to set up passing into the inner loop. Hopefully we can put our McDonald’s Chevrolet in position for a run at the front of the field this weekend.”
McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No. 1 McDonald’s team will bring Chassis #1012 to Watkins Glen. Chassis #1012 will make its sixth appearance and third race at Watkins Glen. It has finished 17th at Watkins Glen twice, and in three races at Sonoma finished 15th twice and earlier this season finished 19th.
JEFF BURTON ON WATKINS GLEN: “I like Watkins Glen (International) a lot. Overall, I like road-course racing. The only thing I don’t like about road racing is getting knocked out. That seems to happen often. We were able to avoid it Sonoma. Unfortunately, we had an issue where Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) and I got together, but it was one of those things where neither one of us really did anything wrong. It was just a product of having 43 cars go into a corner that is a 90-degree turn. Some of it can’t be avoided and that’s what is difficult. Some of it is people just not caring who they run into, but some of it is people trying to avoid it. I think when these road-course racers join the field for these races; they are surprised how good we are it. What we lack in road-course racing experience, we make up for it by knowing how to handle these race cars. There is no car in the world like these Sprint Cup Series cars. These cars are animals. I’m not saying we are the best drivers in the world. It takes a different skill set to drive these cars. They aren’t point-and-shoot race cars.”
BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 357 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend at Watkins Glen International. This No. 31 Chevrolet, built specifically for road-course racing, was driven by Burton earlier this season, finishing in the 11th position at Sonoma. RCR teammate Kevin Harvick piloted this machine last year at Sonoma where he started 26th and finished ninth.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON WATKINS GLEN: “I think Watkins Glen is a driver’s track, you’ve really got to hustle the car, and you can make a bit of a difference by doing so. We’ve always had a pretty good car there. I think the worse we’ve ever run is fourth or fifth so hopefully we’ll have a good day. There are a lot of places you can pass there, like into one, into the bus stop. You’ve got three of four good places where you can overtake. That’s one of those places that it’s a shame that we don’t use the full course because what they call ‘the boot’ is a lot of fun.”
MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Chris “Shine” Heroy and the No. 42 Target team will race with Chassis #1014 this weekend at Watkins Glen. This chassis was used for Montoya’s 2010 win at Watkins Glen and finished seventh there in 2011. In three starts at Sonoma, Chassis #1014 has finished 10th, 15th and 34th. Chassis #1014 has led 80 laps.
REGAN SMITH ON WATKINS GLEN: “The way we’ve raced the past two weekends at Indy and Pocono is the way we should be racing — inside or close to the top-10. There’s plenty of enthusiasm in the Furniture Row camp due to our recent performances. Todd (Berrier, crew chief) came on board before Indy and has done an excellent job in a short time. You can sense that our Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet is only going to get better. This weekend at Watkins Glen is special for me. I consider it my home track since I grew up near Syracuse (Cato, N.Y.). I really enjoy road racing and with all the friends and family who will be at Watkins Glen I want nothing more than to bring home a strong finish.”
KURT BUSCH ON WATKINS GLEN: “Well, Sonoma is a track where the corners are a lot slower and you’re struggling to put the power down. It’s pretty much the opposite of that situation when racing at Watkins Glen. It’s still a road course but the differences are pretty big. Watkins Glen has wide, sweeping, fast corners where it’s not as tough to put the power down like it is at Sonoma. It’s also just more of a momentum race track and so there’s a lot of speed at Watkins Glen, versus the finesse that you have to have at Sonoma to be successful.”
BRIAN VICKERS ON WATKINS GLEN: “After our fourth-place finish at Sonoma I am really happy to get back in the car at a road course. With Watkins Glen’s high speeds, big breaking zones and good places to pass- I’m fairly confident it will be a good showing for us. You just have to stay out of trouble- or stay far enough ahead of the guy behind you that he won’t try to rough you up for the spot. The road racing has become a lot more physical in NASCAR over the past few years. As with any race, you have to be there at the end. I know Rodney will call a great race, the guys will give me a great Toyota and it will be my job to take care of it, have a good qualifying lap for track position, keep the brakes on it, and be there when it counts.”
VICKERS CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary Chassis No. 676 started 21st and finished fourth at Sonoma in June. Backup Chassis No. 661 served backup duties at Sonoma.
Re: Finger Lakes 355 Betting News and Notes
Driver Handicaps: Watkins Glen
By: Jeff Wackerlin
Motor Racing Network brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Finger Lakes 355 at Watkins Glen International.
Who's HOT at Watkins Glen
• Tony Stewart leads all drivers with five wins.
• Defending race winner Marcos Ambrose leads all drivers with a 2.2 average finish.
• Four-time winner Jeff Gordon leads all drivers in laps led with 233.
• Kyle Busch, the 2008 winner, has finished ninth or better in the last six races.
• Juan Pablo Montoya, the 2010 winner, has finished seventh or better in his last four starts.
Keep an Eye On at Watkins Glen
• Clint Bowyer will return in the same car he won with at Sonoma in June.
• Kevin Harvick (9.0) and Jimmie Johnson (10.2), respectively, have the third and fourth-best average finishes in the last five road-course events (Sonoma and Watkins Glen) among drivers entered in this weekend's race.
• Kurt Busch has finished in the top three in three of his last four starts on road courses.
• Brian Vickers, who will be back in the No. 55 Toyota, will race the same car he finished fourth with at Sonoma in June.
• Kasey Kahne has posted the best average finish (4.8) in the last five races of the season.
• Carl Edwards has posted a 7.4 average finish in the five races since the debut of the new car at Watkins Glen.
• Brad Keselowski (second), Martin Truex Jr. (fourth) and Joey Logano (fifth) each finished in the top five last year at Watkins Glen.
• Series points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a 25.5 average finish in four starts with Hendrick Motorsports at Watkins Glen.
• Sam Hornish Jr., who will be back in the No. 22 Dodge this weekend, finished 14th in his last start at Watkins Glen in 2010.
• Jeff Burton has finished ninth in his last two Watkins Glen starts.
• Greg Biffle will be back in the same car he finished seventh with at Sonoma in June.
• Boris Said will be in the No. 32 Ford this weekend.
MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks
Jeff Wackerlin: Kyle Busch
Pete Pistone: Tony Stewart
Ricky Hamber: Marcos Ambrose
John Singler: Jeff Gordon
Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings
(All stats/notes are in regards to Watkins Glen unless noted)
Dale Earnhardt Jr: 25.5 average finish in four starts with Hendrick Motorsports; Started second and led 33 laps in his first track start with HMS in 2008; Scored best finish with HMS last season in 15th; 22.2 average finish in 12 overall starts; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 747) in the Finger Lakes 355.
Matt Kenseth: 15.6 average finish and one lap led in 12 starts; Last top 10 came in 2004; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 771) that he finished 13th with at Sonoma in June.
Greg Biffle: 25.8 average finish and two top 10s in nine starts; Finished fifth in 2009; Has yet to lead a lap since 2003; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 764) that he finished seventh with at Sonoma in June.
Jimmie Johnson: Coming off fifth top 10 (10th) in 10 starts; Has started ninth or better in last eight races (three on points); Fifth-best driver rating in past seven races; Fourth-best average finish (10.2) in the last five road-course events (Sonoma and Watkins Glen); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 543) that he finished fifth with at Sonoma in June.
Martin Truex Jr: Finished fourth last year; 9.5 average finish in two starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; Posted two top 10s in previous four starts with Dale Earnhardt Inc; Has yet to lead a lap; Fifth-best average finish (11.6) among all drivers that have raced in all five races with the COT.
Tony Stewart: Leads all drivers with five wins; Last win came in 2009; Has finished seventh or better in seven of the last eight races; Third-best average finish (7.6) among all drivers that have raced in all five races with the COT; Best driver rating in past seven races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 731) that he finished second with at Sonoma in June.
Brad Keselowski: Finished second last season; 11.0 average finish in two starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 806) that he finished 12th with at Sonoma in June.
Denny Hamlin: Accidents in the last two races ended streak of four consecutive top 10s; Finished second in 2007; 17.2 average finish in six starts.
Kevin Harvick: Winner of the last race with the old car in 2006; Equaled best finish with the COT last year in sixth; 8.5 average finish in last two starts; Third-best average finish (9.0) in the last five road-course events (Sonoma and Watkins Glen); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 395) that he finished 16th with at Sonoma in June.
Clint Bowyer: 17.5 average finish in six starts; Lone top 10 came in 2009 in ninth; Won the Sonoma road-course event in June; Will make first track start with Michael Waltrip Racing in the same car (chassis No. 632) he took to Victory Lane at Sonoma.
Kasey Kahne: Has yet to finish in the top 10 in eight starts; 19.1 average finish; Winner of the 2009 Sonoma road-course race; Will make first track start with Hendrick Motorsports driving the same car (chassis No. 674) that he finished 14th with at Sonoma in June.
Carl Edwards: Has finished 12th or better in the last six races; Won the pole and finished fifth in 2010; Second-best average finish (7.4) among all drivers that have raced in all five races with the COT; Fifth-best average finish (14.0) in the last five road-course events (Sonoma and Watkins Glen); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 816) that he finished 21st with at Sonoma in June.
Jeff Gordon: Last of four wins came in the 2001 race; Last of nine top 10s (ninth) came in 2007 from the pole when qualifying was rained out; Second-best Average finish (7.2) in the last five road-course events (Sonoma and Watkins Glen);
Ryan Newman: 16.3 average finish in three starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; Posted three top 10s in previous seven starts with Penske Racing; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 661) that he finished 18th with at Sonoma in June.
Kyle Busch: Winner of the 2008 race; Has finished ninth or better in last six starts; Best average finish (4.6) among all drivers that have raced in all five races with the COT; Led 46 laps from the pole last season; Fourth-best driver rating in past seven races.
Paul Menard: Has yet to finish in the top 10 in eight starts; 24.9 average finish; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 361) that he finished 32nd with last year at The Glen.
Joey Logano: Finished fifth last season for first top 10 in three starts; 18.0 average finish; Has yet to lead a lap.
Marcos Ambrose: Defending race winner; Leads all drivers with a 2.3 average finish; Has finished third or better in four starts; Second-best driver rating in past seven races; Best average finish (4.6) in the last five road-course events (Sonoma and Watkins Glen); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 772) that he finished eighth with from the pole at Sonoma in June.
Jamie McMurray: Finished sixth in this event in 2010; 11.5 average finish in two starts with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1012) that he last finished 19th with at Sonoma in June.
Jeff Burton: Finished ninth in the last two starts; Finishes are only top 10s in seven starts with Richard Childress Racing; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 357) that he finished 11th with at Sonoma in June.
Re: Finger Lakes 355 Betting News and Notes
Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen Preview
By Greg Engle
The NASCAR Sprint Cup series adds a little twist this week as the series heads to the road course at Watkins Glen for Sunday’s Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen. Few drivers can deal with the twists and turns of the Glen, and has the stats to back it up, better than this week’s favorite Tony Stewart. Stewart has the most wins among active drivers here with five and has the highest driver rating at the Glen.
“It’s a race that we always look forward to,” Stewart said. “We’ve had a lot of success there and it’s just fun. It’s like taking Sonoma and just multiplying the speed times three. It’s just a lot faster track. It still has the same elevation changes, but you’re just running a lot quicker. Both Sonoma and Watkins Glen are two places on the schedule that we really enjoy coming to.”
Stewart finished third in the series last and only other road course stop this season, Sonoma and is the clear favorite to add a sixth win to his Glen resume Sunday.
“When you’ve won five races, it gives you that confidence that you know how to win, and know what you have to do to get to victory lane,” he said. “I know what feel I need when we get here. It’s just a matter of going out and practicing and putting yourself in that position.”
Jeff Gordon broke a winless streak by being in the right place at the right time last week at Pocono. He has four wins here, and while the last one at the Glen was in 2001, Gordon has nine career road course wins leading all drivers past and present. With his win last week, Gordon has renewed energy and will look to continue his rebound towards a berth in the Chase. Gordon could go all the way Sunday and find his way back to victory lane at the Glen for the first time in over a decade.
"(The Pocono win) only puts more pressure on us over these next several weeks, but we're ready for the challenge," said Gordon, who has moved from 22nd in the point standings to 13th on the heels of seven consecutive finishes of 12th or better. "With all we've been through this year and this team staying together while not pointing fingers, we knew if we could get to Victory Lane it would make us stronger.
"We've put together a string of good runs and finishes, but we have to keep fighting for wins,” he added. “I don't know if one win will be good enough to secure a wildcard spot."
Kyle Busch started from the pole here last year. He would go on to finish third and heads back to the Glen looking to seal the deal. After winning no fewer than three races a season since 2008, Busch has been uncharacteristically absent from victory lane, his only win this season was at Richmond in May. With the kind of speed he showed here last season, Busch could add a much needed win at the Glen and increase his hopes of making the Chase. Busch knows how to get around the Glen and enjoys racing here.
“To me, going through turn one and up through the esses are pretty cool and a lot of fun,” Busch said. “It’s challenging but, yet, a lot of fun. As you come down the front straightaway, it’s a downhill braking zone, so you feel like you don’t have to brake as soon as you need to, but you need to in order to get slowed down for turn one. You try to stay out and get a good, hard cut to the right for turn one and accelerate out of there as quickly as you can to get set up for the esses. (You) stay wide on the left and then turn into the right-hander in (turn) two – smooth. You’re getting out of the gas but not using too much brake, just rolling off in there. As the car gets in there and loads, it actually takes a really big set because that’s when you start going back uphill. So the car will load up and that’s when you get back in the gas really wide open. And then you have to turn back to the left and be able to roll back out of it just enough to make the car bend. And then you’re back wide open again to the right-side guardrail and just keeping it tight through the right-hander that we call turn five.”
Party Crasher: Don’t ever count out Jimmie Johnson. Johnson may not have a stellar road course record, but he has been on a roll and could easily add a road course win to go with his Sonoma victory from 2010.
Others: Brad Keselowski finished second at The Glen a year ago and bids to become the track’s third consecutive first-time winner. Marcos Ambrose is the defending winner of this race and while his team seems to be struggling if they find their groove, Ambrose could repeat Sunday.
Bottom line: 19 of the 29 races at Watkins Glen have been won from a top-five starting position. 21 of the 29 races at Watkins Glen have been won from a top-10 starting position. The deepest in the field that a Watkins Glen race winner has started was 18th by Steve Park in 2000.
Re: Finger Lakes 355 Betting News and Notes
NASCAR Practice Notes & Driver Ratings
By Micah Roberts
This Week's Race: Finger Lakes 355
Rating Driver Odds Practice 1 Practice 2 Qualified Sonoma**
1 Tony Stewart 6/1 4th 13th 7th 2nd
Notes: Five-time winner; seven road course wins; using runner-up chassis from Sonoma.
2 Marcos Ambrose 9/2 7th 4th 5th 8th
Notes: 2011 winner with a 2.3 average finish in four starts; using Sonoma chassis this week.
3 Jeff Gordon 6/1 5th 6th 12th 6th
Notes: Four-time winner, the last coming in 2001; five Sonoma wins; coming off Pocono win.
4 Juan Pablo Montoya 10/1 12th 2nd 1st 34th
Notes: 2010 winner, using same chassis this week; his only two Cup wins came on road courses.
5 Kyle Busch 10/1 9th 1st 2nd 17th
Notes: 2008 winner, won at Sonoma same year; rating diminished due to consistent breakdowns.
6 Carl Edwards 25/1 6th 3rd 18th 21st
Notes: 8.7 average finish in seven starts; had one of his best practice sessions of season.
7 Clint Bowyer 20/1 19th 15th 8th 1st
Notes: Best career finish of ninth in 2009; using winning Sonoma chassis this week.
8 Jimmie Johnson 8/1 8th 7th 3rd 5th
Notes: One of five tracks on circuit he's never won at; using winning 2010 Sonoma chassis.
9 Brad Keselowski 20/1 3rd 8th 4th 12th
Notes: Runner-up last season; strong average speeds in practice; using Sonoma chassis.
10 Martin Truex Jr. 25/1 11th 5th 9th 22nd
Notes: Career best fourth-place finish last season; sixth or better in three of past five starts.
* Results from the June 24 race at Sonoma Raceway. Sonoma and Watkins Glen are the only road courses on the Cup circuit, though vastly different with Watkins Glen being a much faster course.
Betting Notes: I'm not exactly going out on a limb by saying Tony Stewart will win Sunday, but so be it. Those who go out on limbs on the road courses usually lose. In the end, the best drivers usually DO win on the road courses. It's a very rare occasion that we see a driver win at Watkins Glen or Sonoma that we all collectively said, "I didn't see that coming."
In Stewart's case, he's got the all-time track record for wins (5), but more importantly, he looked great in practice. He's also starting close to front (7th) which should make it easier for him to get up front than was the case in June at Sonoma where he started 24th and finished second. He's using that same car again this week.
Marcos Ambrose has an amazing 2.3 average finish at Watkins Glen over his four starts and won last season, but he didn't do anything extraordinary in practice like we've seen out of him in the past. He can still be expected to finish in the top-5, but I'm not fearing him this week as I have in the past.
I see this race coming down to Juan Pablo Montoya, Jeff Gordon and Stewart. Again, not exactly going out on a limb.
If I had to go out on a limb and take a driver to do well that we may not first think of, it would begin with Brad Keselowski. The Penske cars have been very good over the last two season on the road courses and because of that, I also think Sam Hornish could have some value in matchups.
Brian Vickers had an impressive fourth-place finish at Sonoma and he seems to make the most of every opportunity while driving the MWR No. 55 car.
I also like Kevin Harvick to run well Sunday and maybe contend with the big guns which presents some value in matchups. Harvick won at Watkins Glen in 2006 and finished sixth last year. It seems that ever since Harvick became a Father, he's not been heard from much on or off the track. It's like he's been going through the motions with decent, but not special finishes.
Carl Edwards has the look of a top-5 finisher as well this week and it should be interesting to watch how aggressive he is on the track as he tries to get his first win since Las Vegas last season. His impressive practices and great past history at Watkins Glen suggest that he'll come close to getting the win.