The Frontstretch: Five Points to Ponder: Watkins Glen Edition by Mike Lovecchio -- Tuesday August 11, 2009

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Five Points to Ponder: Watkins Glen Edition

Mike Lovecchio · Tuesday August 11, 2009


Each week, the Frontstretch hosts a live blog during the Sprint Cup race. It’s a great way for readers to interact alongside their favorite Frontstretch writers with videos, live commentary, and live polls. Each of this week’s “Five Points” were polls taken during Monday’s Watkins Glen live blog.

Five Points to Ponder:

ONE: Should NASCAR implement rain tires at Sprint Cup road course races?
Fan Vote — YES: 50%; NO: 50%

Like any NASCAR road course rain delay, fans who actually wanted to see a race on a Sunday immediately called for rain tires and windshield wipers. We’d seen it before in the Nationwide Series in Montreal… and the results were mixed. But this is the way I see it: If you don’t have brake lights or headlights, how can you race in the rain? Would you want to see your favorite driver crash because his windows are fogging up and he can’t see the car in front of him? Looking back at a pretty good race Monday afternoon, I’m glad the series didn’t have rain tires on Sunday.

TWO: Was Marcos Ambrose’s pass for the win Saturday too aggressive?
Fan Vote – YES: 36%; NO: 64%

Marcos Ambrose won Saturday’s Nationwide race to no surprise of anyone. But it was his surprise overtake of leader Kyle Busch that had fans talking after the race.

These results could easily be skewed by the number of Kyle Busch haters out there. Marcos Ambrose trailed Busch for a number of laps before making a banzai move in the inner loop which sent Busch off course. Shrub wasn’t too happy about it, but Ambrose later explained that if he didn’t surprise him, he wasn’t going to be able to get the lead. Plenty of races have been won by dirty passes, but this isn’t one of them. This was simply a high-risk, high-reward maneuver that could just have easily backfired as succeeded. Chalk it up to good ol’ road course racing.

THREE: Who do you consider NASCAR’s best road course driver right now?
Fan Vote – Marcos Ambrose: 62%; Jeff Gordon: 0%; Robby Gordon: 8%: Juan Pablo Montoya: 8%; Tony Stewart: 23%; OTHER (Kyle Busch – 1 vote)

You can’t really go wrong with anybody on this list. I knew that Ambrose would be a popular pick coming off of his win on Saturday, but I was surprised so few people picked Juan Pablo Montoya. This is a guy who has won Formula 1 races, a CART championship, a Sprint Cup road course race. and has been on top of his game lately. Still though, if I was a car owner and I had to pick one of these drivers to run a road course race for me, it would be Tony Stewart. He’s arguably the most talented NASCAR driver, he’s experienced, won his share of road course races, and is flat out on fire right now.

FOUR: Would you like to see more Sprint Cup road course races?
Fan Vote – YES: 67%; NO: 33%

I’ll come right out and admit, I have a soft spot for road course racing being raised around the Southeast SCCA scene. I would love to see a handful of road course races on the schedule. The thing is, some racetracks may not produce good racing – think of the failed IROC experiment at Daytona’s infield course as an example. Also, some may not have the facilities needed to host a Cup race. Still, as road racing fan I would love to see the series at Mid-Ohio, Lime Rock, Road Atlanta, or Sebring. Won’t happen though.

FIVE: Should there be a road course race in the Chase?
Fan Vote – YES: 80%; NO: 20%

Echoing my beliefs in the previous post, I believe road course racing is a tremendous test of driving talent. If you’re going to crown a champion over a 10-race stretch, then make him run every configuration possible. We already have a short track, an intermediate track, and a superspeedway in the Chase; now, let’s find a way to get a road course (and dirt) race and crown a true champion.

Five Notes to Ponder:

New Ford engine at Michigan: It appears the new Ford engine will debut next weekend at Michigan. Whichever Roush-Fenway team(s) get it will be even stronger at the 2-mile oval that is typically their personal playground. It’s a critical week for a program that hasn’t won a race at the Cup level since February.

Kyle Busch watch: I said last week that if Busch could manage a top 5 this weekend, he’d still have a great shot at the Chase. With his 4th place run, the No. 18 team is now just 58 points out and knocking on the door with four races left.

Career run for Papis: This is a race the No. 13 team had circled on its schedule and “Mad Max” didn’t disappoint, finishing 8th for a career-best run as a Cup rookie.

Bad week for the other Gordon: Robby Gordon’s best chance at a win always comes at either of the road courses. But this weekend, he got into an on-track shoving match with Joey Logano in the Nationwide race, then had to overcome various problems to finish 18th on Monday. Not the top 5 performances this team has come to expect at these places…

Car does its job again: It may not be the sexiest race car in the world, but the current Sprint Cup chassis did its job again, keeping both Jeff Gordon and Sam Hornish Jr. safe after another scary crash.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
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Vexing Vito: Three Drivers In Need of a Role Reversal
Going By the Numbers: Top-10 NASCAR Variety Hard To Come By In…
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Fantasy Insider: Team Revelations For NASCAR’s Short Tracks



©2000 - 2008 Mike Lovecchio and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

08/11/2009 08:34 AM

Speaking of the SCCA, (I’m a 48 year member)went to an SCCA National race Sunday, just to stay in touch with the sport! Good stuff!

And your “Car does its job again: It may not be the sexiest race car in the world, but the current Sprint Cup chassis did its job again,”, YEP! the CoT chassis did it’s job yet again! RUINED a perfectly good race with it’s lack of handling & driveability!

If I want to watch tanks race, I would go to a “TANK” race! And who knows, if the CoT handled properly would those crashes have happened in the first place?

08/11/2009 08:37 AM

Of course the old style car kept Leffler safe in a similar incident .

08/11/2009 09:31 AM

Hey Michael, does it get kinda tiring that after EVERY accident all you hear is: “well, the new car did it’s job”!

Was there any difference between the Saturday accident, same place, same result, and what happened in the CUP race?

Everyone walked away!

BUT! I have NEVER! Repeat that NEVER, heard ANYONE, or read ANYWHERE, about “how good a race” the CoT provided!


So we have 36 races, 43 drivers/cars, week in, week out, driving a POS, just in case an accident happens!



How stupid are we to accept that from NA$CRAP?

08/11/2009 09:49 AM

Once again Douglas, I have to agree with you!! I only hope people in lager amounts than now will quit attending these “shows”

don mei
08/11/2009 10:47 AM

Im another SCCA member and Im driving to Montreal at the end of August to watch the Nationwide cars on a road course. Quite frankly I dont think I would bother driving 50 miles to see the COT on one of the single groove ovals. It will also be interesting to see how the event will be handled if it rains.

Count me in as wishing there was a road race in the chase…then again, maybe not. Id like to see the chase go away, and an extra 100 points for the winner. Then maybe Juan Pablo would have driven a bit more aggressively at the Glen.

08/11/2009 12:38 PM

Hey Don Mei, hello from an old time SCCA member as you know.

I caught not long ago on TV a replay of the NASCAR WESTERN SERIES cars from Sonoma, the companion event to the cup race I think. Anyway, it was a REAL PLEASURE to watch actual race cars, with their suspensions working, body roll, weight transfer, shocks working, manueverability, decent braking, and so forth.

NOT like that tank the CoT, or POS as some call it! The CoT is all bound up, no suspension, bottoming on bump stops,
rear wheel hop under braking because the suspension (what suspension?) won’t absorb the movement of the body/axles.

I would also like to see a few more road races, but first and foremost I would like to see REAL RACE CARS!

08/11/2009 03:30 PM

Please do a vote with the drivers……

Which car do they like better? The old car or the COT.

08/11/2009 05:25 PM

I have one major point to ponder and it has really had an impact on how much cup racing I watch these days. I heard Ambrose tell a reporter that he didn’t push the issue with Stewart because he didn’t want to hurt Stewart’s chase chances. I see more and more drivers race, not to win, but make sure they don’t hurt their spots in the chase. This is not racing. Isn’t the object to win? AE (after earnhardt) nas$car has been like a corporate rudderless ship. We now have the lucky dog (WITH NO LIMITS), the chase, more snoozer tracks, a car that Patton would be proud of, and drivers that would be right at home in a soap opera. This has been a rough five or six years for hardcore nas$car fans. And don’t tell me if I don’t want to watch it, find something else to watch. Slowly, but surely that’s what I’ve done. signed, THE OLD GUARD.

henry young
08/11/2009 06:15 PM

I agree with the last comment…but it’s all good

08/11/2009 06:19 PM

Hey “midasmicah”, I would like to shake your hand!

An outstanding summation!

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