Watkins Glen: GM Racing preview

Watkins Glen, NY - On Sunday, August 12, 2007, the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series will make its annual trip to the 2.45-mile road course near Seneca Lake and the Finger Lakes National Forest for the Centurion Boats at The Glen. Although the tour has...

Watkins Glen, NY - On Sunday, August 12, 2007, the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series will make its annual trip to the 2.45-mile road course near Seneca Lake and the Finger Lakes National Forest for the Centurion Boats at The Glen.

Although the tour has made a summer stop at Watkins Glen International for many years, this will be the first for NASCAR's new generation race car on the 11-turn road course. The Impala SS race cars have already raced at Bristol, Martinsville, Phoenix, Richmond, Darlington, Dover, Sonoma, and Loudon, and Team Chevy drivers have won at seven of eight venues to date.

Team Chevy drivers have also won the past 10 consecutive races at The Glen - all but Steve Park are active drivers.

With four NASCAR Cup career wins at The Glen, Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS is recently tested at Road Atlanta in preparation for this week's race. "It was the first time I had been to Road Atlanta," said Gordon, who is known as "King of the Road Courses" for his success at both The Glen and Infineon Raceway, the two road course races on the NASCAR circuit. "I really enjoyed running laps there. Hopefully it will help us out for the Glen. That road course is so much different than Sonoma that what you learn at VIR, what you learn at Sonoma doesn't necessarily work for you at Watkins Glen. We have lost a little bit of our advantage at Watkins Glen that we had a few years back. I am hoping that we get that back with this new car, with our test. I feel good, I feel like we are going to be strong."

"There are certain guys that do very well at the road courses," he explained. "What happened to us is that we were so good, we were afraid to make changes. If we tried to get better, we might have gone backwards. You struggle with that. We started getting beat a little bit because of that. Some other teams started trying some things to make their cars. We got a little bit behind, this year I feel like we are committed to get back where we were. With this new car, if they don't make many changes to it, once you hit on something, you hope that it will get you back to where you can be strong every time you go there."

Joining the Gordon and the No. 24 team for the two-day test was NASCAR Nextel Cup champion, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS. Johnson has been working hard to hone his road course skills and says the test netted good results for him.

"I feel we really tuned the stone over that I needed to and found out what I needed in the car to help me and get things right," said Johnson. "We had a great test and I'm very, very excited about the Glen. It's just a feel thing. We finally figured out how we can give me that feel in the car. We've really been going about it the wrong way. I think we finally figured it out. The way we were going about it before is we would just get the car too loose and I'd burn the rear tires off it. I could be fast for a couple of laps. And then that would go away. Now we understand what I was looking for and what that is and it made huge improvements."

Defending race winner at The Glen, Kevin Harvick, will pilot the same No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS that scored a second place finish earlier this season at Infineon Raceway.

"I think the biggest challenge is going to be the setup on the new generation race cars," said Harvick, who sits ninth in the standings. "It's 180 degrees different from the old cars. We have tested at VIR several times to prepare for this event. I think we have learned a lot during the test and I think my team is up to the challenge."

"Winning last year at Watkins Glen was a major accomplishment in my career. We'd been able to win on all the different types of race tracks over the years, but with the road course thing, we always had this little cloud over us. We have been in contention to win and always had things happen here and there. To finally do that was pretty satisfying. It's almost a sense of relief because you get so frustrated at places you know you're capable of winning and haven't been able to. However, this year it's going to be a new challenge since we are going to race the Impala SS car. We ran well at Sonoma and had a pretty good test at VIR so I think we have a pretty good chance to repeat at Watkins Glen."

Having collected two wins in the past three NASCAR Nextel Cup races, and three wins in the past five NASCAR Cup races at The Glen, Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Impala SS, is a strong favorite this weekend. "The big thing is to just get as many wins as you can get before the Chase starts to get those bonus points. Whether you're first or 12th doesn't matter. It's how many races you can win in the meantime and get those 10 extra bonus points right now."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Steve Park , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson