* Back-to-Back Road Races A First for NASCAR Busch Series * Dodge Carries Manufacturer Momentum To Upstate N.Y. NBS ETC. Lucky Seven For Leicht: Stephen Leicht (No. 90 CitiFinancial Ford) had his second-best career finish (fifth) at Montreal...
* Back-to-Back Road Races A First for NASCAR Busch Series
* Dodge Carries Manufacturer Momentum To Upstate N.Y.
Lucky Seven For Leicht: Stephen Leicht (No. 90 CitiFinancial Ford) had his second-best career finish (fifth) at Montreal last Saturday and looks to keep his season-long momentum going at Watkins Glen. The 20-year-old moved up one spot to a career-best, seventh-place ranking in the NASCAR Busch Series standings thanks to his finish at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, a marked improvement from his 27th-place result in Mexico City last March.
Five members of Leicht's team went directly from Montreal to Watkins Glen -- one of numerous teams handling preparations on their cars there due to the limited turnaround time for a second consecutive road-course race -- a first in the NASCAR Busch Series. Ryan Fugle, an engineer and shock specialist on the No. 90 team, returns home to New York this weekend. Fugle is a native of Livonia, 45 minutes from Watkins Glen.
Back for More: The Watkins Glen entry list has a similar flavor to last week's entries in Montreal, especially on the road-course "ringer" side. In addition to previously-mentioned aces Boris Said (No. 9 Ingersoll Rand Dodge), Patrick Carpentier, Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Pruett and Robby Gordon, others are back to try their hand for the second week in a row. Fourth-place Montreal finisher and three-time Watkins Glen winner Ron Fellows (No. 33 RoadLoans.com Chevrolet) returns along with Andy Pilgrim (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet), Jorge Goeters (No. 27 Brewco Motorsports Ford), Andy Lally (No. 47 Clorox Ford) and Scott Gaylord (No. 52 Means Motorsports Ford). Also back is last week's Montreal winner and reigning series champion Kevin Harvick.
Pilgrim's Pride: Andy Pilgrim may be a darkhorse at Watkins Glen. After running solidly in Montreal in his first stock-car outing (15th), the native of Nottingham, England who became a U.S. citizen in 1998 has 28 career starts at The Glen in seven different racing series, most recently in June, when he won the pole for the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT race, finishing fourth. All told at The Glen, Pilgrim has three wins, five poles and 17 top-five finishes. After gaining experience in Montreal, Andy Lally is another driver to watch this weekend. The three-time Grand Am GT Sports Car champion also has turned plenty of laps at Watkins Glen and has won twice there.
Wisconsin Natives Gather at The Glen: Former NASCAR Busch Series regulars Paul Menard (No. 15 Menards Chevrolet) and Johnny Sauter (No. 28 U.S. Border Patrol Chevrolet) renew their old series and state rivalry at Watkins Glen this weekend. Menard (Eau Claire) and Sauter (Necedah) are Wisconsin natives who have raced against each basis in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series this season, but will be meeting for only the second time in 2007 in NASCAR Busch Series competition. Menard finished sixth in the series standings last year, Sauter eighth. Both have raced twice before at The Glen in the NASCAR Busch Series, with Menard's eighth place in 2005 the best among the two drivers.
The Director's Take: The Glen
INSIGHT FROM JOE BALASH, NASCAR BUSCH SERIES DIRECTOR
"Watkins Glen, being the second of back-to-back road-course events, presents a unique challenge to the NASCAR Busch Series teams.
"Teams have either had to build a third road course car to be prepared, or they're spending extra time driving from Montreal to Watkins Glen so they can get to the garage early to do the maintenance on their cars from last weekend.
"A number of NASCAR Busch Series teams arrived early Monday to change engines, rebuild brakes, switch out transmissions and restore sheet metal on the road-course cars.
"This is the third of three road-courses in 2007 which gives our drivers a broad experience to build their road course talents.
"The Glen is a wider track with more sweeping turns. It races more like a speedway than the tight chicane-like turns of Montreal.
Rookie Spotlight: Current Class Has Been Solid In Road Course Competition
Krisiloff's Charge: Lost in the fallout from last Saturday's finish at Montreal was the sixth-place result posted by Kyle Krisiloff (No. 14 Lilly/Walgreens Ford), tops among Raybestos Rookies. His was the second-best finish of his short 26-race career, after the fifth at Talladega Superspeedway last April. Krisiloff, like the bulk of the 2007 class, has fared well at both road courses thus far. He posted a solid 16th-place at Mexico City in March. Krisiloff's finish in Montreal propelled him to third in the rookie standings ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya, who returns to the series for the first time since the July 14 race at Chicagoland Speedway.
Rave Road Reviews for Rookies: Krisiloff's result at Montreal was only one rookie success story there -- three of the four Raybestos Rookies entered finished in the top 10. Krisiloff's sixth place led the way with Marcos Ambrose in seventh and Brad Coleman (No. 18 FedEx Express Chevrolet) in eighth. Rookie standings leader David Ragan (No. 6 Discount Tire Ford) was 19th. The foursome is entered at Watkins Glen and is bolstered by Montoya's return -- both of his NASCAR national series wins this year have been on road-courses, beginning with his historic victory in Mexico City.
Consecutive Wins At The Glen Give Dodge Upstate N.Y. Momentum
Chevrolet snapped a two-race losing streak with Kevin Harvick's win last Saturday at the inaugural event in Montreal. Toyota (O'Reilly Raceway Park) and Dodge (Gateway International Raceway) had posted victories in the previous two events.
The win pushed Chevy to a 30-point lead over second-place Ford in the Bill France Performance Cup standings. One would surmise that margin could increase due to Chevrolet's success at Watkins Glen, where its nine wins lead all manufacturers. Eight of those wins were in succession from 1994-2001 -- the last year of series races at The Glen until resuming in 2005.
However, since the series returned two years ago, it's been all Dodge. Ryan Newman (No. 12 Kodak Dodge) won in 2005 while Kurt Busch took last year's event. Both drivers are entered in Dodges for Penske Racing this weekend giving it the logical advantage, especially with other Dodge-equipped road-course aces like Boris Said, Patrick Carpentier, Scott Pruett and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Up Next: CARFAX 250 At Michigan International Speedway
The NASCAR Busch Series stays on its northern path next week with a trip to Michigan International Speedway for the CARFAX 250.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. won this event in 2006, the last time he's been to Victory Lane in either NASCAR Busch Series or in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition. The finish was memorable with Earnhardt bumping Carl Edwards out of the way on the next-to-last lap, denying the Roush Fenway Racing driver a win at his owner's home track.
Despite last year's result, Roush Fenway Racing leads all teams in wins at Michigan with three, but hasn't won there since Jeff Burton's 1998 victory. Four drivers are tied with two wins to lead that category while there hasn't yet to been a multiple Busch Pole winner at MIS. Mark Martin, the series all-time leader in wins (47) and poles (30) won the pole last year.
The Race: Zippo 200 at The Glen
The Place: Watkins Glen International
The Date: August 11, 20071
The Time: 3:00 p.m. (ET)
TV: ESPN2, 2:30 p.m. (ET)
Track Layout: 2.45-mile road course
Race Purse: $1,114,803
2006 Winner: Kurt Busch
2006 Pole: Kurt Busch
Schedule: Fri. -- 1:30 -- 3:00 p.m. -- Practice; 5:30 p.m. -- Final Practice (45 minutes, time permitting). Sat. 11:35 a.m. -- NASCAR Road Race Qualifying (Impound).