ES: Watkins Glen: Round four preview

Drivers Happy To Return To Prestigious Venue Steve Park Excited To Race At Friendly Track Kobyluck, Dumarey Among Ones To Watch Series Makes Welcome Return To Watkins Glen Local fans will quickly catch on to the return of a popular NASCAR ...

Drivers Happy To Return To Prestigious Venue
Steve Park Excited To Race At Friendly Track
Kobyluck, Dumarey Among Ones To Watch

Series Makes Welcome Return To Watkins Glen

Local fans will quickly catch on to the return of a popular NASCAR series to their famed slice of road racing heaven known as Watkins Glen International, or simply, The Glen.

Formerly known as the NASCAR Busch North Series and later Busch East, the series established a tradition of great competition on the 2.45-mile road course. The series appeared at the New York track a dozen times between 1993 and 2004. The much anticipated return is scheduled for Sunday, June 8 at 12:30 p.m.

Since then, the series has quickly evolved. The name change to NASCAR Camping World Series East is the most obvious. In addition, a large percentage of the cars used by teams are former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series cars.

That's the quick overview of a series that has evolved into a primary developmental series since its last Watkins Glen appearance in 2004. And, oh yeah, it's still a great series for drivers to call home.

While on hiatus from The Glen, veteran driver Matt Kobyluck of Uncasville, Conn., has been the most successful active NASCAR Camping World Series road course driver. In annual stops at Lime Rock Park, a 1.53-mile circuit in Lakeville, Conn., he won in 2005 and 2007, and finished second to Mexico's Ruben Pardo in 2006.

In the series' most recent Watkins Glen race, on August 14, 2004, Kobyluck drove his Mohegan Sun Chevrolet to match his best WGI finish of fourth. He'll arrive at The Glen seventh in points after scoring his first top-five finish of the season's first three races May 31 at South Boston, Va. He was happy heading for the familiar New York 2.45-mile road course.

"I really love that place," Kobyluck said of Watkins Glen. "I'm glad we're going back. We've got a bunch of drivers going for the first time and the car quality has gotten much better since 2004."

Kobyluck added about today's NASCAR Camping World Series race cars, "It also makes the competition that much better."

Two-car team owner Andy Santerre is a two-time NASCAR Camping World Series East race winner at Watkins Glen (1996, 2000) and a four-time series champion as a driver (2002-2005).

***

The Race: East 125 At The Glen

The Place: Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International
The Date: Sunday, June 8

The Time: 12:30 p.m. EDT
TV Schedule: SPEED (enhanced replay) July 2, 1 p.m. ET

Track Layout: 2.45-mile road course
Race Purse: $149,192

2007 Winner: New Event
2007 Pole: New Event

Schedule:
Friday: Practice 1:25-2:25 p.m., 5:35-6:35 p.m.
Saturday: Time Trials 6 p.m.

News & Notes

The Race: The East 125 At The Glen is the fourth of 13 races on the NASCAR Camping World Series East schedule for 2008.

The Procedure: The starting field is 32 cars, including provisionals. The first 18 cars will qualify through NASCAR Road Race Style Qualifying. Cars will qualify in groups, with the fastest time for each car in each group being each car's qualifying time. Cars will be grouped for qualifying by practice speeds. The final four starting positions will be determined through the provisional process. The race will be 51 laps (125 miles). Practice is Friday, qualifying Saturday and the race is Sunday.

The Track: Watkins Glen International is a 2.45-mile (3.94 km) road course featuring 11 turns with a variety of banking in turns, ranging from 6 to 10 degrees. The frontstretch is 2,150 feet, the backstretch is 2,600 feet and the track width varies from 36' to 48' wide, averaging 38' wide.

The Records: Qualifying: Dale Quarterley, Aug. 10, 2002, 118.607 mph, 1 minute, 14.363 seconds; Race: Tom Carey, Aug. 11, 2001, 88.744 mph, 1 hour, 42 minutes, 43 seconds.

The History: The current circuit was built in 1956. It is the 13th NASCAR Camping World Series East event at Watkins Glen since 1993, but the first since 2004. Andy Santerre, Ted Christopher and Bryon Wall are the only multiple winners, with two apiece. Dale Quarterley has won two pole awards, the only driver with more than one.

Among current drivers entered in this weekend's race, only Matt Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Resort Chevrolet), Eddie MacDonald (No. 71 Grimm Construction, Inc. Chevrolet) and Steve Park (No. 35 Waste Management Recycle America Chevrolet) have recorded top five finishes. Kobyluck was fourth in 2004 and 2001. Park was second to Andy Santerre in 1995. Park also has a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at Watkins Glen in 2000.

Competing For A Showdown Spot: NASCAR Camping World Series East race winners and NASCAR developmental series champions win guaranteed starting spots in the 2009 NASCAR Toyota All Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, Calif. Austin Dillon (Greenville) and Brian Ickler (Iowa) have already clinched spots. The Showdown race date has been moved to January 23 and 24, 2009.

Empire State Well Represented At The Glen

New York is well represented in the entry list for this weekend's East 125 At The Glen. Four drivers call the Empire State home, including former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Steve Park (No. 35 Waste Management Recycle America Chevrolet) and NASCAR Camping World Series East veteran Bryon Chew (No. 99 Buzz Chew Chevrolet Chevrolet). Both are from Long Island.

In addition, Mayfield's Dustin Delaney (No. 39 Delaney Infrastructure Chevrolet) and Ossining's Jason Holehouse (No. 81 Dodge) will also attempt to qualify.

The 18-year-old Delaney got his start running dirt-track Modifieds in New York.

Holehouse is the Chief Instructor for the Eastern Region for the Skip Barber Racing School at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, and has raced in the series before. He was 22nd in the NASCAR Camping World Series race at Watkins Glen in 1999.

Turning Right And Left Is A Walk In The Park For NASCAR Veteran

Due to the rapid evolution of the NASCAR Camping World Series East since its last appearance at Watkins Glen International in 2004, no current full-time series driver has experienced a series win there.

However, one full-time driver, Steve Park, 40, of East Northport, N.Y., knows what it feels like to be in Victory Lane at The Glen.

Park scored his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at the New York road course. As one of the first drivers the late Dale Earnhardt personally pursued to drive for his new Dale Earnhardt, Inc. team, Park rewarded his owner with the victory in 2000.

"Go fast, turn left, and right, that's what Watkins Glen is all about," Park said. "I love going to Watkins Glen or any road course. It changes things up. We're so used to turning left. I love to go there."

He also knows the guys to beat will be the guys who share his delight in racing there.

"I just have to concentrate on the guys that really like being there," Park said. "Our main thing is what Earnhardt told me a long time ago, 'Keep the brakes and transmission under you and you'll come out with a good finish.' We'll try to do that and see what we've got with 10 or 15 to go. If we're anywhere near the top five, we're definitely going to be looking for a win."

Park has raced at his home-state track in all three national series: NASCAR Camping World Series East (second to Andy Santerre in 1996) and even the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

"We had a big lead in a Modified race and broke the snout of the crankshaft. It was pretty interesting. The Modifieds had never run on a road course before. It gave us a whole new set of challenges.

"I think it's a great place to race in a great part of the country. Being from New York, it's like going home for me."

Watkins Glen has hosted 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup events, 14 NASCAR Nationwide Series events, five NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events, five IROC events, 12 NASCAR Camping World Series East races and several NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events.

Five To Watch On The Road

Matt Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Resort Chevrolet): The reigning King of Road Courses among full-time series drivers. Best finishes of fourth twice at The Glen, he's also won twice and finished second once over the last three appearances at Lime Rock.

Max Dumarey (No. 16 Bodycoach.net Chevrolet): The 19-year-old Belgium native grew up racing on more difficult European road courses, and shined last year at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. He qualified fifth fastest and led the first laps of his NASCAR career before being sidelined by a faulty ignition, which stopped his quest. His "ace" is his car owner, Mike Olsen, who has plenty of experience and a top-five finish at Watkins Glen.

Brian Ickler (No. 16 Ickler Motorsports Chevrolet): Coming off two straight wins, the California native has road course experience in the NASCAR Camping World Series West, including a sixth last year at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. He was sixth and second in the other West road courses last season.

Jesus Hernandez (No. 11 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet): Hernandez has a habit of quietly getting the job done, including a fourth-place finish at Lime Rock in 2007.

Jeff Anton (No. 30 Engineered Floors/Fleur de Lis Cons Chevy): Scored his career-best finish of third at Lime Rock last year.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Steve Park , Dale Quarterley , Matt Kobyluck , Jeff Anton , Ted Christopher , Jesus Hernandez , Max Dumarey , Rubén Pardo , Jason Holehouse , Eddie MacDonald , Dustin Delaney , Brian Ickler , Bryon Chew , Austin Dillon