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2012 Finger Lakes 355 - Watkins Glen International

By

Watkins Glen International

Watkins Glen International

Logo Courtesy of NASCAR

2012 Finger Lakes 355:

Watkins Glen International moves into the NASCAR Sprint Cup series spotlight this weekend as the Sprint Cup series takes on its second, and final, road course of the 2012 season. Clint Bowyer held off a late charge from Kurt Busch to win at Sonoma in late June. Will he have what it takes to complete the road course sweep in 2012?

Tickets:

Speedway ticket office 866-461-RACE or 607-535-2481

The Track:

Watkins Glen is a 2.45 mile 11 turn road course. This picturesque race track features some dramatic elevation changes and the dreaded "Inner Loop" which is a chicane at the end of the backstretch which never fails to confound a few drivers every year.

NASCAR only runs two road races each year and Watkins Glen International is more than worthy. This track has high speed sections, tight technical sections and enough passing zones to keep the race interesting.

Race Distance:

90 laps = 220.5 miles = 355 kilometers

The Big Picture:

Dale Earnhardt continues to lead the points but three drivers are still within eight points of him. unfortunately nobody cares since all attention is focused on the wild card battle at this point.

Jeff Gordon made a huge jump in his wild card hopes this week. With his win he went from barely hanging on into the second wild card spot. He is tied in wins and points with Ryan Newman but wins the tiebreaker because he has more fifth place finishes than Newman. Both drivers are tied in firsts, seconds, thirds and fourths this season.

This wild card battle is going to come right down to Richmond.

The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings:

  1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  2. Matt Kenseth -5
  3. Greg Biffle -6
  4. Jimmie Johnson -8
  5. Martin Truex Jr. -50
  6. Tony Stewart -53
  7. Brad Keselowski -54
  8. Denny Hamlin -61
  9. Kevin Harvick -63
  10. Clint Bowyer -65

Storylines:

Big news hit the NASCAR world this week as Dodge announced that it would not provide cars to compete in NASCAR for the 2013 season. Dodge left the sport once before and returned in 2001 with Ray Evernham's team leading the charge. Dodge managed 50 NASCAR Sprint Cup series win since that 2001 return including three wins so far this year with Brad Keselowski at the wheel.

How does Dodge leaving affect the sport? Is this a sign of trouble for NASCAR or a minor blip on the radar? This is a topic that we can be sure to hear more about this weekend in Watkins Glen.

Media Coverage:

TV: ESPN Sunday, August 12th, 12:00PM Eastern.

Radio: MRN and SIRIUS Satellite

Actual Race: 1:05PM Eastern

Recent Events:

2011 Polesitter: Kyle Busch

2011 Winner: Marcos Ambrose

Last Year:

Marcos Ambrose survived a wild Monday finish in Watkins Glen to claim his first career victory in the 2011 Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen. Marcos Ambrose was fast all day and got a well-deserved win but the story of this race was the triumph of NASCAR safety over a pair of brutal crashes as Denny Hamlin, David Ragan and David Reutimann tested NASCAR's safety features during this event last year.

Predictions:

There are a short list of NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers that can truly be considered a threat to win on a road course. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Juan Montoya typically top the list of usual road racing suspects.

Looking at the list of recent Watkins Glen winners one name stands out. Tony Stewart won half of the last ten Watkins Glen races and finished first or second in three of the last five years. However, Stewart is safely in the Chase and there are no more road races in 2012 so there is no incentive for him to really work on his Watkins Glen program.

For my picks this week I am going with two road racing aces who both truly need the win. Jeff Gordon backed into last week's Pocono win with crazy circumstance and luck. Jeff now clings to the second wild card spot by the slimmest of margins. Gordon knows his way to Victory Lane at Watkins Glen and another win would help solidify his Chase position. Gordon will be giving it his all this weekend and makes a great pick.

For my backup Juan Montoya stands out as another solid choice. Montoya lead 74 laps of this race in 2010 on his way to the win. He knows how to turn right. If he can keep his cool and if his strategy works out then Montoya will definitely have a shot at this win.

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