TWISTS AND TURNS AWAIT BIRES, CLOROX TEAM AT WATKINS GLEN WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- If Kelly Bires has learned anything heading into Saturday afternoon's Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International, it's that road course racing is full of a lot of...
TWISTS AND TURNS AWAIT BIRES, CLOROX TEAM AT WATKINS GLEN
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- If Kelly Bires has learned anything heading into Saturday afternoon's Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International, it's that road course racing is full of a lot of twists and turns -- literally and figuratively.
The driver of the No. 47 Clorox Ford will be making his third road course start in the Nationwide Series for JTG Daugherty Racing. His first two races -- Mexico City and Montreal -- provided important lessons on making both left and right turns.
"This still is new to me, but I'm catching up really quick," Bires said. "At times, I feel like the car is driving me instead of me driving the car. It's just a matter of getting more laps. The more seat time we get on these road courses, the better we'll be."
A year ago Bires watched the race at Watkins Glen from pit road when road-course specialist Andy Lally took controls of the team's Ford Fusion. Because he's never competed at Watkins Glen, Bires will be required to race with a yellow bumper signifying his rookie status at the track. After Saturday, he never will have another yellow bumper during his Nationwide Series career.
"I was miserable last year watching," Bires said. "You couldn't see much. I was so eager to be in the car, but used the time to learn as much as I could. But now, I'm learning to enjoy the road courses. They're still new to me and there's always a lot of twists and turns in the race."
Crew chief Scott Zipadelli's strategy a week ago at Montreal was to bring the Clorox Ford home in one piece. Bires did that, despite a torrential rain that prompted NASCAR to stop the race 26 laps short of the scheduled finish.
"We have the same strategy this week, too," Zipadelli said. "We need to get Kelly comfortable in the car during practice and make sure he sticks to our plan in the race.
We're not racing against another driver. Our strategy is to race the racetrack. If we do that, we'll be fine."
The learning will continue during the race, Bires said. Hopefully, the lesson will be complete by the end of the day.
"When we come back, I'll be so much further ahead," he said. "Our goal is to run Top 15, complete all the laps, keep the car in one piece, transmission and everything. "Last week at Montreal, we got faster every time we went out during practice. On road courses, you can be off a little bit and if you can get the car to do what you want in one corner, you're going to find speed. The more laps we get, the better we get, the more I learn."
And the better Bires is able to cope with all the twists and turns that come with road-course racing.