Monday, August 9, 2010

Montoya Strikes Bulls Eye at the Glen

Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/ Getty Images for NASCAR

Taking the grid for the 25th race at the Glen in the NASCAR modern era (28th since the 1957 debut of the stock car series at the New York state road course), the NASCAR Sprint Cup series readies for their final road race of 2010. Tolerating just two events per year, the special driver skills for mastering the 9-turn, 2.45 mile track provides fans with a specific enjoyment seeing their favourite drivers negotiating right turns along with the left turns.

Carl Edwards posted fastest time in qualifying but would find his stint at the from extremely short. Within the first lap, the #99 Ford was immediately displaced from the lead by the #1 Chevy of Jamie McMurray where he would lead the initial 5 laps at Watkins Glen. On the fifth lap, the Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing #1 Chevrolet was hounded his Target-sponsored teammate Juan Pablo Montoya. Conceding to the ultra-fast Colombian native, McMurray gave the #42 car pretty of room to complete the lead change. Montoya would lead through the next 20 laps around Watkins Glen

The first caution came out after a round of green on lap 29 for a stalled #07 Toyota driven by PJ Jones who would retire as result of a fuel pump failure. Unlike the NASCAR Nationwide series race which involved a major 10-car crash, the Sprint Cup event was a more subdued affair when it came to on-track carnage. However, there would be some major incidents of note transpiring deeper into the Heluva Good! Sour Cream at The Glen.

Being the 5th race left before the cut off to the Chase for the Sprint Cup, the finishes at Watkins Glen as well as the remaining rounds prior to New Hampshire are going to be very important to teams contending for the top-12 spots. On the outside of the final Chase spot, Mark Martin and Ryan Newman both made a habit to lead at least one lap for 5 valuable driver points. Both drivers also required some struggles for drivers embedded within the Chase-eligible top-12. The Heluva Good! Sour Cream at The Glen produced the circumstances Martin and Newman were looking for to aid their Chase hopes. The most significant event occurred on lap 62 when the #33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Clint Bowyer encountered a driveline problem. Leaving debris on the track which drew a lap 63 caution, behind the wall repairs required of Bowyer's car took 3 laps. Clint Bowyer would gain 2 of those laps back through free passes on subsequent cautions but would ultimately finish 34th on the day. Falling to 13th in Sprint Cup series points, Mark Martin is now in the 12th place spot heading into Michigan next week.

Compacting the field, drivers eagerly fought for positions on the track through the final 1/3 of the Watkins Glen event. A result of the heightened aggression, drivers were less willing to show courtesy contributing to the final two cautions of the Heluva Good! Sour Cream at The Glen. Shortly after the debris caution, the yellow flag fell for a violent impact of the #83 Red Bull Toyota through turn 2. Driven by Boris Said during the weekend, the #83 car was accused of crowding the #14 Chevrolet of Tony Stewart through turn 1 running the Chevy wide. In an incident which had similarities to Leffler's triggering of the big wreck in the Nationwide race, Stewart forced himself back into the race surface bumping into Said. As the #83 Toyota was sent into the Armco, all other cars were able to miss the stopped Red Bull machine. Later in the garage, Boris Said testified to he did not see Stewart.

Following the lap 66 crash, another more high-profile accident collected 2 of the top contenders for the Sprint Cup. Through turn 7, Jimmie Johnson's #48 Chevrolet was sent around on lap 72 into the outside wall. While Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports car suffered minor damage from the wall impact, the #11 Toyota of Denny Hamlin would quickly get caught within the tire smoke of the #48 car. Colliding with the spun vehicle of Johnson, Hamlin made head-on contact with his #11 FedEx Toyota. Hamlin's day was at Watkins Glen was over but Johnson was able to soldier on to finish 28th. Starting the season as the driver and team to beat winning 3 of the first 5 races, Johnson has only 1 top-20 finish in the past 5 Sprint Cup race events.

Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/ Getty Images

In a similar dominating performance to Ambrose's walk away from the field in the Zippo 200 NASCAR Nationwide series race the previous day, Juan Pablo Montoya led for 74 of the Heluva Good! Sour Cream at The Glen's 90 laps. Out front through the final 28 laps, Montoya's Chevrolet pushed to over a 4 second interval over second place. It was a triumphant win for Montoya and crew chief Brian Pattie as the pairing his performed a multitude of strong runs with victory still eluding the #42 Chevrolet. Juan Pablo Montoya's 2nd win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series since his first win at Infineon Raceway in 2007. This was Montoya's first win in a Chevrolet.

Chasing the Colombian-born racer through much of the race distance was Marcos Ambrose trying to swap at Watkins Glen. Looking to be a match for the #42 Earnhardt/Ganassi

Rounding out the top-5 at Watkins Glen was the Richard Petty Motorsports driver AJ Allmendinger and pole sitter Carl Edwards who were both driving Ford Fusions.

Next Sunday, the NASCAR Sprint Cup series will return to the two-mile race at Michigan International Speedway.

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dip At The Glen
Race Results


Pos #  | Car # | Driver   | Sponsor/ Car Make

1 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
2 2  Kurt Busch Miller Lite/Vortex Dodge
3 47 Marcos Ambrose Little Debbie Toyota
4 43 A J Allmendinger Insignia HDTV Ford
5 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford
6 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet
7 14 Tony Stewart Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet
8 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
9 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
10 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet
Other Notable 
11 29 Kevin Harvick Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet
12 39 Ryan Newman U.S.Army Chevrolet
13 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Ford
19 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
21 26 Patrick Carpentier Air Guard Ford
26 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet
28 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
40 36 Ron Fellows Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet

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