A handful of road-racing specialists dot the entry list for Watkins Glen, and then there are the Sprint Cup regulars who once specialized in road racing. Either way, ringer or regular like AJ Allmendinger, they are no shoe-in for a good finish...
A handful of road-racing specialists dot the entry list for Watkins Glen, and then there are the Sprint Cup regulars who once specialized in road racing.
Either way, ringer or regular like AJ Allmendinger, they are no shoe-in for a good finish at Watkins Glen because NASCAR drivers have stepped it up in recent years.
"There used to be a clear separation in NASCAR road racing," said the former Champ Car star. "There are a handful of NASCAR guys who are really, really good at it. And then there are the road-course ringers. It used to be that you could plug those guys in and you knew they'd be top five. But they don't have as much success anymore. Now there are so many guys that are good at it."
AJ snuck into the top 20 when fuel mileage determined Sunday's race at Pocono. His 19th- place finish helped the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota gain 25 points on the top 35 heading into Watkins Glen. He's 37th 38 points out.
Teammate Brian Vickers crept home in 28th at Pocono after the No. 83 ran out of gas on the final lap. Brian is 16th in points - 203 from the top 12 entering the Glen, where his best finish of eighth came in August 2005.
Watkins Glen marks the 50th Sprint Cup race where at least one Red Bull Toyota has competed.
A unique characteristic of Watkins Glen International is that it's the only Sprint Cup track where cars pit to the right, which can make over-the-wall life difficult for Danny Kincaid.
"Everything is in the opposite direction of what you're used to," said Kincaid, the No. 83's front tire changer. "You feel really awkward going the opposite direction that you've trained your body in. It's a really big difference."
Unlike the flurry of pit stops last month at Indianapolis, Kincaid anticipates a two-stop strategy in a race where fuel far outweighs fresh tires.
"It's very boring for us," he said. "Gas is the big deal. Two stops and we'll call it a day."
Not all is bad for the 27-year-old. He hails from Port Byron, N.Y., a little more than an hour drive from Watkins Glen. "Most of my family is from there and still lives there," Kincaid said. "I don't get to see them very often, so it'll be a nice change."