Sunday, August 8, 2010

Top 6 NASCAR things learned from Watkins Glen and Nashville – Juan Montoya wins the Heluva Good at the Glen.

Welcome ladies and gentlemen, for this weeks NASCAR racing edition column, we find ourselves in the picturest hills, Watkins Glen International, the 2.45 mile high speed road course for the Nationwide Series and the Cup Series while the Truck Series was racing at the Nashville Superspeedway.

Over the last few years especially, in my opinion, the road course races have gotten more competitive and produced better racing, I believe that reason for the better racing on road courses is because more NASCAR drivers have learned how to road racing in both the Nationwide Series and the Cup Series and that would make for more competition on-track.

Like in every week during the NASCAR season, there always seems to be a news story or two that takes headline status and this week is no different. So here are the top 6 things learned from the Watkins Glen and Nashville races.

Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Marcos Ambrose captures his third consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series checkered flag at Watkins Glen International -- tying Terry Labonte's streak from 1994-1996 on Saturday in Watkins Glen, N.Y.

1. Marcos Ambrose wins third straight Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen. What a performance by Ambrose on the road courses, that’s fun to watch when he is coming through the field. But unlike the road course ringers and other drivers in NASCAR, Ambrose has had several good runs all season long and I look forward to seeing what Ambrose will do in 2011 where ever he lands.

2. NASCAR needs three road course races. NASCAR needs a third road course race on the Cup Series schedule and one road course race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. One reason for adding another road course race is that these teams spend a lot of money to get up to speed and develop their cars for the road races and having only two is a little bit of a waste of money. I think that using the road course race at Daytona could be an option, using the road course at the Brickyard (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) to add more excitement to the race or even going to Portland International Raceway because NASCAR isn’t in that market yet.

3. Atlanta Motor Speedway losses one Cup date in 2010. Earlier this week, Atlanta Motor Speedway announced that they will have only one Cup Series in 2011 and that will be on Labor Day Weekend which is a good date for them. Now the speedway needs to promote and sell tickets to that race. Of course with Atlanta losing the date and that Kentucky Motor Speedway has a press conference set for this week, it looks like Kentucky and NASCAR’s battle is over and the speedway will get there long awaited Cup Series date. Of course even with this move, that isn’t good enough for Bruton Smith/SMI and they will go after a second date for Las Vegas in 2012.

In my opinion, I didn’t want Kentucky Speedway to get a date, we don’t need another cookie cutter track on the schedule, but let’s see what the attendance will be in 2014 to se if it’s a good match or not. The reason why I said 2014 is that the first two races in a new venue is the must thing to do in that area and that’s not much of a measuring stick for how the speedway will do. Well Kentucky, you got the date, now use it and attend the race.

As for Atlanta losing a Cup date, its not a surprise, the racing hasn’t been all that good in resent years and the attendance has been sluggish for the last few years now. But I believe that Atlanta having one date will bring that speedway back up in attendance and hype.

As for Las Vegas, that track should have one Cup Series date and it should be the final race of the season or finale and have the Cup Series banquet the next Friday night after the race. It would be the perfect place to have the finale and with the banquet already in Vegas, that would be a perfect match. But no second date, the market is too heavy with Phoenix and California Speedway within 3 hours of Las Vegas.

4. Jason Leffler and Boris Said. Both drivers need to learn how to give a little more room to other competitors when racing especially going into turn 1 (up through the S’s at Watkins Glen).

First, in the Nationwide Series race, early in the race, Jason Leffler went off track coming out of turn 1 and comes back on-track in front of on-coming traffic and creates a 10 car pileup. I couldn’t believe this one, but good heads up driving by Kevin Harvick in stopping just before the wreck as others pile in.

Boris Said on the other hand decided to try and pass Tony Stewart late in the race, Boris Said didn’t give Stewart any room on the outside, forcing him just about into the safer barrier. All Tony Stewart did was hold his line and Boris Said went off his front bumper and spun around hard into the outside barrier. Boris Said in an interview that he thought that Stewart had fallen in behind him into line. I believe that Boris Said just didn’t give Stewart any room which isn’t the first time this year (Sonoma) and Stewart wasn’t going to be pushed around. Its late in the race, Stewart did nothing wrong.

5. No Cup Series drivers in the Truck Series race at Nashville made for a better race. I watched Saturday night’s Truck Series race at Nashville and for the first time in a while, there finally was no Cup Series drivers in the field and while I didn’t notice attendance, it was good just to see the Truck Series regulars go at it on-track with ultimately Todd Bodine holding off the field and winning his first guitar.

6. More Silly Season 2010 news. Read “2010 NASCAR Silly Season Part 1: The facts, the speculations and the predictions.” For all the latest updates as of August 8, 2010.

As Juan Montoya wins the Heluva Good! at the Glen, picking up his second career victory on a road course (congrats to Brian Patty on picking up his first Cup Series victory, he earned it especially in being Montoya’s crew chief), NASCAR is off to the Irish Hills, Michigan International Speedway for the Nationwide Series and Cup Series races and as we get closer to Richmond for the final Race for the Chase, we can now start locking in some drivers for the chase. But I wonder why will get the gift of 12th spot?