NASCAR Race Weekend Central

5 Points to Ponder: 2009 Heluva! Good Sour Cream Dips at the Glen Edition

Each week, 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.

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%

These results could easily be skewed by the number of Kyle Busch haters out there. 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 – 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 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 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 five this weekend, he’d still have a great shot at the Chase. With his fourth place run, the No. 18 team is now just 58 points out and knocking on the door with four races left.

Career run for Max Papis: This is a race the No. 13 team had circled on its schedule and “Mad Max” didn’t disappoint, finishing eighth 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 five performances this team has come to expect at these places…

Car does its job again: It may not be the sexiest racecar 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.

Follow Mike Lovecchio on Twitter HERE

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