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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2009 Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips At the Glen

Who… gets my shoutout of the race?

Predictable? Probably. But how can you not be impressed with the run Marcos Ambrose put together at the Glen? After having the fastest car in final practice and winning the Nationwide Series race, Ambrose drove an underfunded, underpowered racecar to a second-place finish on Monday, showcasing his considerable talent against the likes of Tony Stewart and other Sprint Cup frontrunners. An underdog from Down Under… and fun to watch!

What… was THAT?

Is it just me, or is it a little disconcerting that things that are determined “too dangerous” for the Sprint Cup Series are apparently just fine for the less experienced drivers and teams in the Nationwide Series? First it was the restrictor-plate package (a package that was fantastic on the old Cup cars, too, until it became “too dangerous.”) and now it’s rain tires and running a road course on a wet track. Is it just me, or should the Nationwide Series at least try to be less dangerous than Cup? Or are the NNS guys just more expendable?

Where… did the polesitter wind up?

Fighting a loose racecar. Jimmie Johnson struggled with a loose car for much of the race, as it never did come to him the way crew chief Chad Knaus hoped. Johnson’s weakest skill is by far road-course racing, and he raced as hard as he could, but in the end had to be satisfied with a 12th-place finish.

When… will I be loved?

There was more than one guy who could be singing this tune after Watkins Glen, but Kasey Kahne’s loose racecar was the one that caused the scariest-looking wreck. Kahne lost his car in the Carousel turn, sending Sam Hornish Jr. into a tire barrier, which catapulted Hornish across the racetrack straight into an oncoming Jeff Gordon, collecting Jeff Burton as well. The accident left both Gordon and Hornish aching and all three drivers done for the day. Kahne went on to finish 17th on the lead lap.

Why… aren’t there more road courses on the schedule?

This goes for all three top series, but especially Sprint Cup. Road-course racing takes a special skill – one that should be tested more often, including once in the Chase. Several tracks would be suitable for stock cars to take some right turns, including Mid-Ohio, Road Atlanta or Road America. It’s time to add a little more flavor to the Cup.

How… many licks does it take?

In this case, how many postponed races could have been avoided by an earlier start time? I think I’ve lost count, but add Watkins Glen to the list – had the race started at the once standard 12:30 p.m. local time, it might have reached halfway before the rains came, and if not, could have been finished after the rain passed through.

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