* Car Of Tomorrow Returns This Weekend * Road Course Specialists Entered At The Glen Car Of Tomorrow Back On The Track This Weekend; So Are Road-Course Specialists NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow returns to the race track this weekend at Watkins Glen.
* Car Of Tomorrow Returns This Weekend
* Road Course Specialists Entered At The Glen
Car Of Tomorrow Back On The Track This Weekend; So Are Road-Course Specialists
NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow returns to the race track this weekend at Watkins Glen. It marks the ninth of 16 events that the new car will be featured this season. Beginning in 2008, the new car will run the entire NASCAR NEXTEL Cup schedule.
The Car of Tomorrow is the culmination of a seven-year project undertaken at NASCAR's Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. Important safety innovations, better competition and cost containment opportunities for the teams are the primary goals of the new car. Through its first eight races in 2007, the new car has lived up to its projected goals and more. Excluding the races at Dover and Infineon, the average margin of victory in the other six Car of Tomorrow races has been just .4325 seconds. Martin Truex Jr. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) was dominant at Dover, winning by 7.355 seconds, while Montoya's margin of victory at Infineon was 4.097 seconds.
The new car has quickly demonstrated its flexibility and versatility in allowing teams to compete with the same car at a variety of venues without having to build track specific cars. Seven teams have run the same car in four of the eight COT races; three teams have run the same car in five of the eight races; two teams have run the same car in six of the eight races, and one team -- the No. 29 Chevrolet driven by Kevin Harvick -- has run the same car in seven of the eight COT races.
The new car has proven to be extremely durable, as well. There have been just 35 cars that haven't finished the eight COT races. In those same eight races in 2006, there were 49 DNFs.
Watkins Glen always brings out road course specialists and this weekend is no exception. Entered to compete this weekend are P.J. Jones, who will drive for David Reutimann in the No. 00 Burger King Toyota; Patrick Carpentier, who finished second at last week's NASCAR Busch Series race in his hometown of Montreal, and will sub for Scott Riggs in the No. 10 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge; and Ron Fellows, another Canadian, will be stepping in for Tony Raines and driving the No. 96 DLP/HDTV Chevrolet. Other road course specialists expected to participate include Boris Said (No. 60 No Fear Energy Ford); Brian Simo (No. 37 Dodge); and Klaus Graf (No. 49 Paralyzed Veterans of America Dodge).
Keys To Victory
The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series heads to Watkins Glen International this week for a 90 lap/220.5-mile road course event. Here are some keys to look for:
The Glen can be considered the superspeedway of all road courses. It features long straightaways, corners with a lot of banking and its configuration allows the drivers to attain high speeds. A driver also has plenty of opportunities to pass.
Pit stops are configured differently at The Glen and are in a sense, flip-flopped from normal pit stops. The gas filler is on the opposite (passenger) side of the car. The tire changer and gas man have to run in the opposite direction to service the car during a pit stop at this road course.
Sunday will be the ninth Car of Tomorrow race of the year. The previous eight races have been competitive, with many close finishes. The road course event at Infineon earlier this summer was likewise a Car of Tomorrow race and provided good drama and good racing down the stretch. Expect much of the same Sunday at The Glen.
In The Loop: Watkins Glen A Good Match For Stewart
Watkins Glen International has treated Tony Stewart extremely well over the Indiana native's eight-year career.
Stewart has made eight starts at the upstate New York road course and has finished on the lead lap in all eight of them. He has three wins there, four top fives and six top 10s. He's finished out of the top 15 there only once -- a 26th-place finish in 2001. Stewart dominated there in 2005, leading 83 of 92 laps and earning a perfect Driver Rating of 150.0. He finished second to Kevin Harvick last year.
Over the past two years, Stewart has a Driver Rating of 140.1 (best of any driver), an Average Running Position of 2.5 (best of any driver), 53 Fastest Laps Run (best of any driver) and is the only driver to run all 182 laps in the top 15.
Robby Gordon (No. 7 Jim Beam Ford) is another driver to watch at The Glen. Gordon's last win came there in 2003 and overall he has six top-five finishes in eight races. He finished second there in 2005 and fourth last season, earning some of the best stats on the circuit over the past two years at The Glen. Gordon has the second best Driver Rating (116.0), the second-best Average Running Position (8.4), the second-fastest Green Flag Speed and the second-most Laps in the Top 15 (150).
Harvick will attempt to join Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Stewart as the only driver to win consecutive races at Watkins Glen. Harvick has four top-10 finishes in six starts and over the past two years has racked up some strong statistics. He has a Driver Rating of 106.5 (third best), an Average Running Position of 11.6 (fifth best), the third fastest Green Flag Speed and 136 Laps in the Top 15 (fourth most).
NNCS, Etc. ...
Raybestos Rookie Update: Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) continues to lead the Raybestos Rookie standings. Montoya was the highest finishing rookie at Pocono (16th) last weekend. He currently holds a 26-point lead over David Ragan (No. 6 AAA Ford).
Paul Menard (No. 15 Menards Chevrolet) is third with 151 points, while David Reutimann (No. 00 Burger King Toyota) is fourth and A.J. Allmendinger (No. 84 Red Bull Toyota) is fifth.
On Deck: Michigan International Speedway Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) is the defending race champion of next week's 3M Performance 400, which will be the seventh event in the Race to the Chase.
Kahne won from the pole a year ago and it marked the fourth of his series-high six victories in 2006.
The Race to the Chase ends Sept. 8 at Richmond International Raceway.
Manufacturers' Championship: Kurt Busch's win at Pocono allowed Dodge to move closer to second place in the Manufacturer's Championship race. Chevrolet maintains its lead with 174 points, followed by Ford (113) and Dodge (109). Toyota has 66 points.
The Race: Centurion Boats At The Glen
The Place: Watkins Glen International
The Date: Sunday, August 12 The Time: 2 p.m. (ET)
TV: ESPN, 1 p.m. (ET)
The Track: 2.45-mile road course
The Distance: 220.5 miles/90 laps
The Purse: $4,800,931
2006 Winner: Kevin Harvick
2006 Pole: Kurt Busch
Pre-Race Schedule (local/ET time): Friday -- Practice, 11:50 a.m. -- 1:20 p.m.; Qualifying, 3:10 p.m.; Saturday -- Practice, 10:30 -- 11:20 a.m.; Final Practice, 1:50 -- 2:50 p.m.