Watkins Glen: Ron Fellows preview

RON FELLOWS Quite the Fellow(s) At Watkins Glen CORNELIUS, N.C. (Aug. 7, 2007) -- If you name any famous road race, Ron Fellows has probably won it. The 47-year-old from Windsor, Ontario, Canada, has a road-racing resume second to none. He...

RON FELLOWS
Quite the Fellow(s) At Watkins Glen

CORNELIUS, N.C. (Aug. 7, 2007) -- If you name any famous road race, Ron Fellows has probably won it.

The 47-year-old from Windsor, Ontario, Canada, has a road-racing resume second to none. He won 19 races in 95 starts in SCCA Trans-Am competition before becoming the primary development driver for General Motors' Corvette C5-R program. That association produced victories at the Rolex 24 At Daytona (Fla.), 24 Hours of Le Mans (France), 12 Hours of Sebring (Fla.), and virtually every other road racing circuit in North America.

He's also had plenty of success in NASCAR racing -- and plenty of it came at Watkins Glen International, site of this weekend's Centurion Boats at The Glen NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race, where he will drive the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet for Hall of Fame Racing.

Fellows has competed in all three of NASCAR's top divisions at the Glen and has scored two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victories (1997 and 1999) and three NASCAR Busch Series victories (1998, 2000 and 2001). Both of his Truck Series victories and his 2000 Busch Series win came from the pole, while his 1998 and 2001 Busch Series wins came from the second starting spot.

However, he has never won on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series circuit.

But he has been close.

In 16 career Nextel Cup starts -- all but one (New Hampshire in August 1998) coming on the road courses at Infineon Raceway (Sonoma, Calif.) and Watkins Glen -- Fellows has a pair of second-place finishes at Watkins Glen in 1999 and 2004. His 2004 runner-up effort came after starting 43rd. He has two other top-10 finishes, both at Infineon, where he was seventh in 2003 and eighth in 2005.

Fellows is hoping that this week he'll finally see victory lane in NASCAR's premier series and get the elusive Nextel Cup win he's been chasing after for 12 years.

RON FELLOWS (Driver, No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet):

Overall thoughts heading into Watkins Glen:

"I'm excited about it. We've got one race under our belt together, having done Infineon Raceway, and I've gotten to know Brandon (Thomas, crew chief) and the guys throughout the summer. We have a lot of confidence after our test last Wednesday at Road Atlanta, so we should be in good shape."

How much do you enjoy doing the two road course races on the Nextel Cup Series schedule?

"I thoroughly enjoy doing them, whether it's Busch, Cup, Truck. The Nextel Cup Series is the cream of the crop, and on the competitive side of it, these guys are all very, very good. And the racing is incredibly close."

Watkins Glen has been really good to you over the years. Can you talk about your experience there?

"The track itself has some long sweeping corners. It's got some elevation and it's great fun to drive. It's similar to Mosport, a track about an hour or so east of our home in Toronto. Mosport is the track I learned how to race on. So I think Watkins Glen is very different from Infineon and it's one that maybe suits my driving style a little bit better."

How much does it help having competed at Infineon with the DLP team instead of working with the team for the first time?

"No question, it helps. We've done the race, but we've also done a test relatively close to the Watkins Glen event, which has also helped. The other thing is, I'm feeling well-rested this time. I'm not coming off a 24-hour race (24 Hours of Le Mans) that was 6,000 miles away."

What is your favorite Watkins Glen memory?

"It's always nice to win and your first-time wins are really nice. The Truck Series win in 1997 with Billy Hess -- boy, we had a low-budget deal that day, but Billy did a great job. Obviously, the first Busch win with (Joe) Nemecheck's team back in '98. For Cup, the '99 Cup race -- it was really a last-minute deal where we built a car and tested it, and Brian Pattie and Joe Nemechek -- we essentially had about a month and a half to put it all together and we just about won the race. That one seems like it wasn't that long ago. Unfortunately, it was. I remember catching Jeff Gordon and getting within about three-quarters of a second, and I think he was in cruise mode because I couldn't get any closer. The fallout from that was sort of, 'Who is this guy?' It was then that I really realized the popularity and notoriety that is NASCAR racing."

How important is it for you to get that elusive first NASCAR Nextel Cup Series win?

"It'd be huge. It's why we keep pursuing it. It's unfinished business for me. We've been fortunate enough to win in the Truck Series and the Busch Series, but I really want to get a win in Nextel Cup. When you look at how big and popular Nextel Cup racing is, it's impossible to ignore. It would be, without a doubt, one of the biggest wins I've ever had. It'd be up there with our first class win at Le Mans with the Corvette, and the overall win in the 24 Hours At Daytona with the Corvette. Nextel Cup racing is a huge deal and incredibly popular and winning one is not easy."

-credit: hofr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Joe Nemechek , Ron Fellows
Teams Hall of Fame Racing