[NASCAR] Speed Addicts

Speed Addicts

– Steve Price, aka the “Speed Addict
08.13.05 / For Inside Pulse Sports

I’m in a bit of pain today, so let’s get this over with, okay?

Speed Addicts Race Special – Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen is the second and final road course on the Nextel Cup Schedule. Slightly larger than its sister in Sonoma, the Glen has been the scene for some memorable shootouts in the past. Dominated by open wheel racers in the past, Watkins Glen is by far one of the most challenging courses to drive.

Track Profile: Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen, New York has long been the home for one of NASCAR’s most treasured jewels – the 2.45 Mile road course nestled in the heart of the “Finger Lakes” region of the state of New York, just about as far north as the Southern-based entity tends to travel in a given year. Though most people peg southern tracks like Daytona, Darlington, Charlotte, and Atlanta as the home to the beginnings of the sport, most people would be surprised to know that Watkins Glen has held a sanctioned auto race longer than any other city on the current Nextel Cup schedule, with the exception of Indianapolis. At the same time, the only track still in use today that held a NASCAR event before Watkins Glen did was Darlington Raceway; the first Southern 500 was held in 1950, while Buck Baker (father of legendary driver and former TV analyst Buddy Baker) won the first NASCAR Grand National race in Watkins Glen in 1957, two years prior to the first Daytona 500.

Watkins Glen is a road course, which like its cousin Infineon and the now defunct Riverside, breaks from the traditional four-turn oval and constitutes a circuit made up of numerous turns, making it one of only two tracks in the Nextel Cup where drivers turn right and left. The track is made up of eleven turns, with numerous sand traps, “S” shaped stretches, and a chicane-like detour that slows drivers down heading down the lengthy backstretch. The track surface is banked slightly, ranging from eight to ten degrees at various points on the track, but like its Infineon brethren, Watkins Glen’s racing surface varies in elevation from point to point, making for unique visuals at various points around the track. At 2.45 miles in length, it dwarfs Infineon Raceway, and is only shorter than the “big four” – Talladega, Daytona, Indianapolis, and Pocono.

The first Watkins Glen races were not held on the current road course, but rather on a temporary circuit that ran through the actual town streets from 1948 until 1952, when a spectator was killed in a crash on the city streets of Watkins Glen. Until then, fans had lined the sides of streets to watch the races. Following this incident, a temporary circuit was erected for races by 1953, and by 1956, the race track that we all know and love today began its infancy on the world stage of auto racing. Following the initial NASCAR event at the road course, the series wouldn’t return to upstate New York until 1986, when the late Tim Richmond pulled his car to Victory Lane there. Prior to NASCAR’s return, Watkins Glen was the site of Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix, believe it or not. In fact, the U.S. Grand Prix was something of a major event at the track for nearly twenty years, up until 1980 when financial difficulties forced Formula 1 to move elsewhere. The CART series also visited the track during NASCAR’s absence, though the Winston/Nextel Cup Series has not missed visiting the road course at least once since 1986, making it the oldest road course on the Nextel Cup Schedule at this time. Though other tracks may be more popular, Watkins Glen is viewed by many fans, domestically or abroad (especially) as one of the most unique and renowned tracks in the world.

[Credit: TheGlen.com]

Race #22 of 36: Sirius Satellite Radio at the Glen
Date: Sunday, August 14th, 2005 from Watkins Glen, New York
Time: 1:00 PM (EST) on NBC
Pole Sitter: Tony Stewart (Qualifying Washed Out, Reverts to Points Standings)
Distance: 2.45 Miles Per Lap
2004 Winner: Tony Stewart, #20 The Home Depot Chevrolet
Busch Race Winner: Ryan Newman

Boogity, let’s go road course racin’, boys! Okay, so I’m not quite dorky enough to pull that particular motto off, but the thought is there. If you enjoyed Infineon in July, you’ll probably find some enjoyment in this bad boy, too. Watkins Glen is a lot faster a course than the track in Sonoma is, because it’s sprawled over a larger area, and is generally less invasive to the engines when compared to it’s California cousin. Of course, that’s not to say that this track isn’t tough; the Glen is one of the most demanding circuits on the schedule. Long stretches, with some tight corners, the “S” section, the inner-loop chicane, and those damned sand traps are going to claim some victims today, so we’re in for a pretty good race.

Tony Stewart was well on his way to a Top 5 qualifying effort yesterday before qualifying was washed out at the Glen. Thus, with ten cars or so failing to get their laps in, NASCAR rules state that the running order shall revert to the points standings. That’s like pouring fuel on a bonfire, because the better starting place you have, the better finishing place you’re going to have. Nowhere is qualifying more important than at a road course, and let’s not forget what the Tiger has been doing as of late; since Michigan, Stewart has four wins, two top fives, and a top ten under his belt. He hasn’t finished worse than 7th since the middle of June. Oh, I think we know who’s the favorite this week. The man eats road courses for breakfast and shits lug nuts afterwards; Stewart is my pick, *the* pick to win at the Glen.

So, now we’ve got to determine the best of the rest. Not too hard of a task, really. With qualifying and most of the practices washed out, it comes down to two things: momentum and past performances at road courses. And wouldn’t it be something if Roush Racing’s true leader, Mark Martin could help the shell-shocked team to a top five? Martin posted a top five last year at the Glen, as did Jeremy Mayfield, who is looking to solidify his spot in the Chase for the Cup. For other drivers, Watkins Glen will be the momentum changer that drivers are hoping to see. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is going to be this week’s “guy on the bubble”, ie if he fails to finish in the top five, you can kiss him goodbye from any Chase discussions for 2005. It would take a Tony Stewart-like run to save Junior’s Chase hopes if he fails to finish well here. Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth aren’t on life support like Junior is now, but they can ill-afford to take a hit today all the same. Gordon is a very savvy driver; he’s won at the Glen before, and he can most definitely put himself in contention again. Kenseth is a little more iffy at road courses, but the #17 team is far from being pushovers; they know what’s at stake, and they know how to get the job done on Sundays.

The guy that has the most to lose this week has to be Carl Edwards. It’s been an up-and-down season for the rookie, who has visited Victory Lane twice, but has also hit the skids since the last road course race at Infineon in June. His tenth place position in the points standings is very tentative, what with Sadler, Gordon, Kenseth, Harvick and Earnhardt Jr. breathing down his neck. And if Infineon is any indication of his Watkins Glen performance today, then Carl has a right to be concerned. A 38th place finish at the Glen today (his Infineon effort) is not acceptable if Edwards wants to stay in the Chase. There are a lot of talented drivers lurking right behind him, and a lot of talented veterans ahead of him that are less likely to make costly mistakes. If Carl is still in the Top 10 at the day’s end… I’m not saying that I’ll be overly shocked, but mildly surprised.

Also, one final quick note before we end this segment. Sterling Marlin, NASCAR veteran and driver of the Coors Light Dodge, will not be racing at the Glen this week. Marlin left earlier this week to tend to his ailing father, and will be replaced by Scott Pruett for this race. We here at Inside Pulse will be keeping the Marlin family in our thoughts this week.

Predicted Finishing Order
1. Tony Stewart
2. Mark Martin
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Jeff Gordon
5. Jeremy Mayfield

Bud Pole Qualifying Results from Watkins Glen
01. #20 Tony Stewart – The Home Depot Chevrolet
02. #48 Jimmie Johnson – Lowe’s Chevrolet
03. #16 Greg Biffle – Subway/National Guard Ford
04. #2 Rusty Wallace – Sirius/Miller Lite Dodge
05. #97 Kurt Busch – IRWIN Industrial Tools Ford
06. #6 Mark Martin – Viagra Ford
07. #12 Ryan Newman – ALLTEL Dodge
08. #19 Jeremy Mayfield – Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
09. #88 Dale Jarrett – UPS Ford
10. #99 Carl Edwards – Office Depot Ford

11. #42 Jamie McMurray – Home123 Corp. Dodge
12. #38 Elliott Sadler – M&M’s Ford
13. #29 Kevin Harvick – GM Goodwrench Chevrolet
14. #24 Jeff Gordon – DuPont Chevrolet
15. #17 Matt Kenseth – DeWalt Power Tools Ford
16. #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Budweiser Chevrolet
17. #01 Joe Nemechek – U.S. Army Chevrolet
18. #31 Jeff Burton – Cingular Wireless Chevrolet
19. #15 Michael Waltrip – NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet
20. #5 Kyle Busch – Kellogg’s Chevrolet

21. #9 Kasey Kahne – Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
22. #25 Brian Vickers – ditech.com/GMAC Chevrolet
23. #18 Bobby Labonte – Interstate Batteries Chevrolet
24. #41 Casey Mears – Target Dodge
25. #40 David Stremme – Coors Light Dodge
26. #21 Ricky Rudd – Motorcraft Genuine Parts Ford
27. #0 Mike Bliss – NetZero Best Buy Chevrolet
28. #49 Ken Schrader – Schwan’s Home Service Dodge
29. #45 Kyle Petty – Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge
30. #07 Dave Blaney – Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet

31. #10 Scott Riggs – Valvoline Chevrolet
32. #43 Jeff Green – Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge
33. #77 Travis Kvapil – Kodak/Jasper Engines Dodge
34. #22 Scott Wimmer – Caterpillar Dodge
35. #11 Terry Labonte – FedEx/Kinko’s Chevrolet
36. #4 P.J. Jones – Lucas Oil Products Chevrolet
37. #32 Ron Fellows – Tide Chevrolet
38. #37 Anthony Lazzaro – Patron Tequila/BoSPOKER.net Dodge
39. #7 Robby Gordon – Jim Beam Chevrolet
40. #192 Johnny Miller – Oak Glove Co. Chevrolet
41. #136 Boris Said – CENTRIX Financial Chevrolet
42. #1 Paul Menard – Kraft/Ritz Chevrolet
43. #50 Jorge Goeters – CU National Mortgage/Red Cactus Salsa Dodge

[Credit: NASCAR.com]

Special Features
It’s always nice and good to get hit up with headlines from the garage and race notes, but it’s also cool to get a bit of extra material that may tickle your racing fancy. Over the past seven months, we’ve been adding and subtracting special features on an almost weekly basis. We torture you with corny garbage, because we like you that much. Here’s your grab bag of wholesome Speed Addict goodness, brought to you by the fine head honchos at Inside Pulse!

Nextel Cup Points Standings [Thru 08/07/05 – Indianapolis]
Noted: Starts, Poles, Wins, Top Fives, Top Tens, and Position Change Following Indianapolis

01. Tony Stewart – 2923 Points / —— Points Leader
(21 Starts, 1 Pole, 4 Wins, 9 Top Fives, 13 Top Tens) / +1 Position

02. Jimmie Johnson – 2848 Points / -075 Behind Leader
(21 Starts, 1 Pole, 2 Wins, 8 Top Fives, 13 Top Tens) / -1 Position

03. Greg Biffle – 2812 Points / -111 Behind Leader
(21 Starts, 0 Poles, 5 Wins, 7 Top Fives, 11 Top Tens) / No Change

04. Rusty Wallace – 2705 Points / -218 Behind Leader
(21 Starts, 0 Poles, 0 Wins, 5 Top Fives, 11 Top Tens) / No Change

05. Kurt Busch – 2646 Points / -277 Behind Leader
(21 Starts, 0 Poles, 2 Wins, 7 Top Fives, 11 Top Tens) / No Change

06. Mark Martin – 2636 Points / -287 Behind Leader
(21 Starts, 0 Poles, 0 Wins, 6 Top Fives, 11 Top Tens) / +1 Position

07. Ryan Newman – 2568 Points / -355 Behind Leader
(21 Starts, 5 Poles, 0 Wins, 5 Top Fives, 10 Top Tens) / -1 Position

08. Jeremy Mayfield – 2554 Points / -369 Behind Leader
(21 Starts, 0 Poles, 0 Wins, 3 Top Fives, 05 Top Tens) / No Change

09. Dale Jarrett – 2493 Points / -430 Behind Leader
(21 Starts, 1 Pole, 0 Wins, 3 Top Fives, 05 Top Tens) / +1 Position

10. Carl Edwards – 2487 Points / -436 Behind Leader
(21 Starts, 0 Poles, 2 Wins, 6 Top Fives, 08 Top Tens) / +2 Positions

The following drivers, while still in contention, are not currently among the contenders for the 2005 Chase for the Nextel Cup. To enter the Chase for the Cup, a driver outside the Top 10 in points must be within 400 points of the leader by the second race at Richmond, Virginia on September 10th.

11. Jamie McMurray 2475 Points / -448 Behind Leader
12. Elliott Sadler 2463 Points / -460 Behind Leader
13. Kevin Harvick 2405 Points / -518 Behind Leader
14. Jeff Gordon 2400 Points / -523 Behind Leader
15. Matt Kenseth 2319 Points / -604 Behind Leader
16. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2296 Points / -627 Behind Leader
17. Joe Nemechek 2248 Points / -675 Behind Leader
18. Jeff Burton 2240 Points / -683 Behind Leader
19. Michael Waltrip 2237 Points / -686 Behind Leader
20. Kyle Busch 2226 Points / -697 Behind Leader

21. Kasey Kahne 2212 Points / -711 Behind Leader
22. Brian Vickers 2207 Points / -716 Behind Leader
23. Bobby Labonte 2039 Points / -884 Behind Leader
24. Casey Mears 2002 Points / -921 Behind Leader
25. Sterling Marlin 1971 Points / -952 Behind Leader
26. Ricky Rudd 1948 Points / -975 Behind Leader
27. Mike Bliss 1925 Points / -998 Behind Leader
28. Ken Schrader 1896 Points / -1027 Behind Leader
29. Kyle Petty 1877 Points / -1046 Behind Leader
30. Dave Blaney 1876 Points / -1047 Behind Leader

31. Scott Riggs 1870 Points / -1053 Behind Leader
32. Jeff Green 1860 Points / -1063 Behind Leader
33. Travis Kvapil 1724 Points / -1199 Behind Leader
34. Scott Wimmer 1717 Points / -1206 Behind Leader

The following drivers have been mathematically eliminated from the Chase: Jason Leffler, Mike Wallace, Bobby Hamilton Jr., Robby Gordon, Kevin Lepage,Terry Labonte, Hermie Sadler, Johnny Sauter, Boris Said, Bill Elliott, Mike Garvey, Martin Truex Jr., Mike Skinner, Stanton Barrett, John Andretti, Jimmy Spencer, Carl Long, Morgan Shepherd, Kerry Earnhardt, Ron Fellows, Brian Simo, Randy LaJoie, David Stremme, P.J. Jones, Stuart Kirby, Kenny Wallace, Clint Bowyer, Bobby Hamilton, Chris Cook, Shane Hmiel, Scott Pruett, Greg Sacks, Jeff Fuller, Eric McClure, Tony Raines, Kirk Shelmerdine, Ted Christopher, and Tom Hubert.

Inside Pulse Official NASCAR Power Rankings
01. Tony Stewart
Infineon… Check. Daytona… Check. Chicagoland… Ok, we get it.

New Hampshire… Check. Pocono… Need I say more?

Indianapolis… Check.

02. Rusty Wallace
Krusty Rusty looks like he’s for real. No kidding!

03. Mark Martin
See: Wallace, Rusty sans “No Kidding!” remark.

04. Brian Vickers
Chicks dig the Garnier Fructis Car.

05. Kasey Kahne
And, in another brilliant rib on California Speedway, Kasey Kahne inadvertently causes a sign tower to crash. How it’s brilliant is beyond me.

06. Kurt Busch
Small snafu aside at Indy, Kurt is still looking like a contender for the Cup. Notice I didn’t say Chase, like I will for…

07. Jeremy Mayfield
Or…

08. Carl Edwards
Office Depot/AAA/Scotts!

09. Greg Biffle
Following his failure to win at Indianapolis, NASCAR execs tried to contact Simon & Garfunkel about reworking their classic anthem “Mrs. Robinson” to fit Biffle’s persona, only to learn that Jared Fogle ate them with a six inch turkey breast and a diet Dr. Pepper.

10. Matt Kenseth
It’s funny; when he’s winning, no one notices. When he’s losing, no one notices. When he starts creeping back into contention for the Chase…

NASCAR Bottom Rankings [08/07/05 – 08/13/05]
01. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
No soup for you!

02. Ricky Rudd
It was funny, because you could see Ricky enter the cloud, but you couldn’t see him exit it. Now you see him… and, now you don’t!

03. Jimmie Johnson
A stunner! Three spins in two races? The former points leader maybe riding the wrong Karma train. We’re just happy he’s alright after a scary little episode at Indianapolis.

04. Dale Jarrett
It’s official: the brown truck stole DJ’s heart. And his racing edge.

05. Jason Leffler
And in the first good move made by the Redskins this year, Joe Gibbs cut Jason Leffler from bench-warming duties this week.

06. Elliott Sadler
I have nothing witty to add here, so… Yankees Suck!

07. Joe Nemechek
The wheels just keep spinning for Ol’ Joe. They’re flat half the time, but they keep spinning. Sorta.

08. Casey Mears
When you can’t tell the difference between Jason Leffler, Casey Mears and Scott Wimmer, you’ve got a problem. Wait, how did Wimmer not make this list? DAMN IT!

09. Bobby Labonte
Poor Bobby… no matter how hard he tries, it’s always one step forward, three steps back this season.

10. Jeff Gordon
If it’s not brakes one week, its being upstaged by Ryan Newman calling you out on your real place of birth (San Francisco?) the next…

NASCAR Q & A
This is a feature that I’ve been working on for awhile now, as you all know. I was planning on adding this in with Know Your NASCAR, but the questions that I was coming up with really deserved their own little section. From now on, readers are welcomed to (and encouraged to) send your questions in, and I’ll answer any and all of them that I get, so long as I don’t run out of questions to answer. This week, we’re breaking from the norm and answering some questions about the Chase for the Nextel Cup, and revisiting an old question from way back when to boot.

Q: If you could select one driver from Formula 1 and the IndyCar Series to compete in NASCAR, who would you select?
A: I’ll start with the easier answer; Kimi Raikkonen would probably get the nod from Formula 1 if I were swapping drivers. He’s won four times this year in Formula 1, beginning in Spain on May 5th, then continuing in Monaco, Canada, and the most recent Formula 1 outing at the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest. He’s a talented driver, no doubts there, but the more astute fans out there will recognize him as one of the “Michelin 14”, as in one of the fourteen drivers that parked their car at Indianapolis in the U.S. Grand Prix two months ago. I’m tempted to go with Michael Schumacher, but that’s really too easy of a pick; his performance is down from a year ago, and he’s the most recognizable F-1 driver here in the States, so I’ll stick with Raikkonen. The IndyCar Series driver is a wee-bit more difficult to choose, because there are various factors that will… uh, factor into the decision. Dan Wheldon, Dario Franchitti, Helio Castroneves, and Tony Kanaan are probably my first choices from a talent standpoint, though if you want to get right down to it, there’s only once logical choice if you want “the Buzz”. And you know her name. And how satisfying it would be if she would come over to NASCAR and make life so much more enjoyable for yours truly. Yep, I’m sure now. I’m choosing… Roger Yasukawa, the no-driving dipstick that seems to crash every other race. Hey, with that kind of percentage, he would have to take out Kurt Busch once in awhile… no?

Q: Should their be a third road course race on the Nextel Cup Schedule?
A: That’s a pretty good question, one that I couldn’t answer on the fly. Actually, I may have answered this one already from the Infineon column, so I’ll just wing it here. Three road course races is probably good enough for government work, though I wouldn’t want any more than four or five road course races on the schedule at any one time.

Q: What’s your idea of a good time?
A: Putting an Alabama farmer together with Mini-Me, Ozzy Osbourne, and a Red Sox fan from Nantucket together in a room. Hell, half of you couldn’t understand what I was saying on the radio show. How the Hell are these guys going to communicate with one another? This is what the English language has come to, folks.

Q: Why did you waste perfectly good space on the previous question?
A: …

Q: What is the best racing game ever made?
A: I’m tempted to say Days of Thunder for the NES, but that’s just the smartass in me. I would actually lean towards EA Sports’ NASCAR Thunder series installment, Chase for the Cup 2005, simply for the wide range of racing options presented. EA has several pretty good games out, including their F1 series, of which I was a nut for over the 2001 F1 game. Then again, games like Need for Speed and Midnight Club all challenge the NASCAR empire for my love and adoration, so your mileage may vary.

Q: Can you explain the difference between race cars in NASCAR?
A: This goes back to the whole notion of the stock in “stock” car racing. The difference lies in the engine package that various teams use. As of right now, Chevrolet, Ford, and Dodge all have engine builds in the Nextel Cup, while Toyota has joined their group in the Craftsman Truck Series. The cars are all built the same, cosmetically and aerodynamically, to help ensure that the driver, not the car, will beat another driver in a race. That’s what the rule book says, at least, to borrow a quote from Robert Duvall.-

Q: Who is J.D. McDuffie?
A: J.D. McDuffie was a Winston Cup driver that competed in the series for quite awhile, though he never achieved any great measure of success in NASCAR competition. Like the Dave Marcis/Harry Gant breed of driver, McDuffie continued to drive into his fifties, and though he was never very successful, he did have his share of devoted fans.

On August 11th, 1991, J.D. McDuffie and Jimmy Means were involved in a Lap 4 accident at Watkins Glen during the running of the Bud at the Glen. The crash was among the most violent ever seen at Watkins Glen, with both cars nearly torn to shreds. Jimmy Means was able to walk away from the accident, pretty much unscathed. Sadly, J.D. McDuffie did not walk away from the accident. McDuffie was killed in that accident, and from most reports, he was killed instantly. I will not share the details surrounding his death, out of respect to the McDuffie family and for obvious reasons of class and taste. Jimmy Means never really raced again, and most assume that it was the shock of the crash (and its dire consequences) that caused him to leave the driving aspect of the sport.

J.D. McDuffie was the last NASCAR driver to die during a Winston Cup race until 2001, when Dale Earnhardt was killed on the last lap at the Daytona 500 (Adam Petty, Neil Bonnett, and Kenny Irwin were killed during qualifying runs and practice sessions). Because of McDuffie, Earnhardt and other drivers that have left us far too soon, NASCAR has began to implement new safety features in the cars, on the drivers, and at the individual race tracks that have helped keep drivers safer while inside a stock car. At Watkins Glen, the safer barriers have been installed to cushion the blow that drivers will take should they hit the wall, but more importantly, sand traps have been added to the track since the passing of McDuffie. Though drivers may complain about these traps when they become stuck, these sand traps are valuable safety features that have saved many drivers from potentially serious injuries at Watkins Glen.

Victory Lap for the Pimps
The usual suspects this week. Check out Nguyen’s new digs for and the IP Sports Radio file for a special treat.

Victory Lane (Hoorah!)
That’s it, I’m out to go take some Tylenol and suffer through another wasted opportunity for Danica. If she wins, I’m back tonight. If not, I’ll see you guys next weekend with a shit load of new features. Until then…

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What the Hell… Peace.

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