NASCAR back at the Glen…The “cans” and “can’ts”…Let’s see how I did!!!

The following is a review of how I did predicting the results following the postponed Glen Cup race. I am going to update the comment on my picks on the original post with a critique of how I did. The original post will be followed by comments in parentheses  The original post went as follows:

 As I sit down to compose this blog just two days now to go before the running of the “Heluva Good Cheese Dips At The Glen” (Hey, I truly believe that the race sponsor is a great partner but this a race event name is one that I still have a hard time wrapping my arms around (then again I and many others still call it the “Bud at the Glen” every so often). Having said that, it’s now time for me to try to predict those who have solid shots to win this weekend’s Glen NASCAR event…and some that don’t.(I still believe the event name is still “cheesy”. Sorry, I just couldn’t resist!!!)

 • Tony Stewart, who really needs to score a victory in the 2011 season to solidify a top 10 points finish by Richmond, has to be considered the prohibitive favorite in this race. Although he is the current overall race winner at the Glen (with 5 Glen trophies in his display case), his current winless streak has to be a source of frustration for him and his team. This event and the upcoming Richmond race presents two great opportunities for the #14 organization to knock down the much needed boost that a Victory Lane visit always provides…)(An off-road excursion into the grass in the late going in the inner loop relegated him to a 27th place finish which severely damaged his points standing in the Chase via that ill-timed incident…

• Last year’s winner Juan Pablo Montoya always seems to have the upper hand going into both road courses—and, of course, INDY, even though he has yet to win there. At the Glen, history is NOT on his side since back-to-back wins are rare here (only Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin have done it in the Cup Series).  As the COT race car has only been racing a few years, there’s no real data to support any real conclusions. Suffice it to say that going back-to-back as a winner at any track is a pretty difficult thing to do. Even so, JPM is a solid contender…(Montoya was a serious threat early in the race but his run showed virtually nothing like the dominance displayed in last year’s victory…       

The rest of the field could produce a surprise winner; some of the most likely drivers who could get it done include:                               • Kyle Busch…Don’t snicker; he won both road course races in 2008. Given his intensity in any race he competes in, he’s definitely one to watch! (He was a factor in the late going as usual but an uncharacteristic mistake on the final restart took him out of the lead–and the win!!!                             

• Jimmie Johnson, who benefitted from the big mistake made last year at Infineon by Marcos Ambrose (who is also another one to watch with 3 NNS wins in a row @ WGI)(Oviously I nailed this one as Ambrose showed the same gritty performance similar to his 3 consecutive NNS wins at the Glen in in previous years.  Too bad that a deal fell through to give him a ride in the Saturday NNS race…but once again Johnson couldn’t “build something together” with crew chief Chad Knaus to construct a win…)

• Jeff Gordon, who only trails Stewart by one in the overall wins department could definitely be in the mix.  And don’t forget his two wins earlier this season…(Jeff had a descent chance in this one: he led a few laps and was a serious contender the entire race…)

• Kurt Busch…Yep, that’s what I said! In a Nationwide Zippo 200 race few years back he outdueled Robby Gordon for the win (no slouch himself.) Remember, KuBu also won at Infineon earlier this year(which no one seems to believe provide much useful info regarding setups for the two tracks in these cars; that is, of course, until brother KyBu did it!). The #22 team also seems to be on a roll right now; Ever hear of the word “momentum”???(The “momentum” was there alright, taking him right to the inner loop wall after a blown tire made him a mere passenger endured by in a hard hit into the rail…)

Now, let’s move on to the dark horses…

• Jamie MacMurray who, along with many others, desperately NEEDS a win right now…I know what you’re thinking; he’s never scored a road course victory. But check his stats at the Glen! He has had many good runs here…(Never a factor in this race!!!)

• Mark Martin, who practically OWNED this track in the early running of NASCAR at the Glen; there would be no better place for Mark to get his next victory (if there’s still one win left in the tank, it could come here…)(Ummm NO!!!)

Canadian standout and former perennial favorite Ron Fellows, whose winning performances in the old Busch & Craftsman Truck races caught the attention of the late, great Dale Earnhardt, Sr.—If he could get into a competitive ride fielded by a strong team, his life-long dream could be achieved…Does he even have a ride in the Cup Series this weekend—or at all???(Update–he has a ride with Tommy Baldwin this weekend.)There has been some Nationwide stuff here & there but he would have to drive for a Chevy team because of his close association with the nameplate in his native country. He has been so successful in racing in Team Corvette that a “Ron Fellows Edition” of the car was made to honor his achievements in his outstanding sports car career…(Tommy Baldwin is trying hard to field a competitive car week in and week out but his equipment couldn’t allow Fellows to drive anywhere near this potentialhe front of the pack…)

• The same can be “said” for the ever-so-popular road course “ringer” with an interesting, always entertaining group of cult-like self-titled “Said Heads”– fans whose idol is road course champion Boris Said, although he has probably already had his best shot at it in previous events…(Boris was never a serious playerin the race until his aggressive driving on the last lap was the major contributing factor in a last lap melee totally trashing the cars if both David Ragan and David Reutimann to head to the garage area via flatbeds.  Except for some sports races I’ve witnessed over the years, I don’t ever remember a stock car flip over once and landing on all four wheels, like the #00 did following the incident, especially in the turn 2 area of the track leading into the esses…but after the race, Boris was being Boris and had some bad things to say on-camera complaints about Greg Biffle, apparently resulting from a mix of former run-ins and both driver’s dissatisfaction with each other in the late going which prompted them to be the perfect example of “Boys, have at it” decree we have seen to date…)

  • Another REALLY dark horse is Andy Lally in the #71 TRG car; he “sports” an impressive road racing resume not only in America but on the international stage as well…(Once again,weak equipment spoiled Andy’s chance so he was also a “non-factor”

 Paul Menard, who recently won at INDYt and “cut his teeth” by running successfully on road courses before getting into big, heavy stock cars…(he did generate sparks late in the race just past the exit of the  resulting in a frightening fire just after the carousel turn…)

• A.J. Allmendinger (another driver seeking a first win in the series; I think it would be great if it comes this weekend…(It was looking good for the “Dinger” early as he surged to the front, until a nudge from behind going into the inner loop took him on the grass–and out of contention…)

• Carl Edwards (who surprised me and many others with a win in the Nationwide Series on the famous Road America circuit last year; besides, he has a points lead to protect which just might spur him to be “up on the wheel” for this one…)(Never posed a serious threat in this one, but managed to salvage a good finish which cemented his place in the Chase…)

• Not to seem like I’m getting on the Dale Jr. bandwagon but he HAS won at the Glen before, albeit in the former Busch Series…(He had glints of glamour in the later stages of the race, resulting in another top ten finish allowing him to guard his shot of making the chase…)

Other notables not very likely to score a victory  in this race include:

• Jeff Burton (his team is on a downward spiral this year for no apparent reason)(A complete “swing-and a miss” on this one as Burton had his best finish to date, a 4th place run!!!)

• Same thing goes for teammate Clint Bowyer...(Got this one right as Bowyer must have forgotten to eat his “Cheerios” before the start of the postponed race…) 

• The other RCR team driver, Kevin Harvick (despite his ’06 win at the Glen and also 3 Cup wins this season, I still feel it would be hard to imagine win #4 coming here. Just too much inconsistency up to this point…)((although he looked like he was going to put on another “Where did he come from?” finish in the latter stages, he quickly faded, probably preferring to “grab some Buds” following the event…)

• The afore mentioned Robby Gordon; his driving prowess is willing but his inferior equipment is not.  Regardless, he is likely to put on a great show anyway, since he absolutely LOVES road courses (don’t forget his win in an RCR car here many years ago…)(Another one I got right:  Robby looked like he was lost in an off-road race and never seriously threatened for race for the win…)

• Matt Kenseth (even though he has two wins this year, he’s never done well @ WGI and it is highly unlikely the next one could come here…) (Kenseth kept his dislike for the track intact; with pit stop sequences only allowing him to have a “shot”–pun intended,..

• Roush-Fenway teammates Greg Biffle (who has had a disastrous season up to this point…) and David Ragan (who probably salvaged his dismal career this year through a long-awaited first win but don’t expect him to find victory lane at this race…)(Jack Roush had to file a claim for bad”logistics” as David’s car was “delivered” to a trash heap; althouh not of Ragan’s own doing while Biffle’s only shining moment was his participation the previously mentioned post-race dust-up with Boris Said…)

More dark horse candidates can be found in the rest of the field; since this season has seen so many first-time and surprise winners, I wouldn’t be shocked if some other unexpected new face ends up with the Sunoco checkered flag….(Hey look, this prediction was vague enough to hit the mark but I didn’t go out very far on a limb anyway!!!)

Never thought that Brad Keselowski had a chance to savor some “Miller Lights” generated by an awesome, gritty performance which should dispel forever any doubts about his toughness and commitment to his team…(What a pleasant surprise as I,too, thought he was out of contention going into the race…) 

Regardless of what happens at the Glen this year, many fans will DEFINITELY win since have they will have a whole new perspective, watching the great racing from newly-constructed grandstands for all three race series at the Glen this weekend (Grand-Am, Nationwide and Sprint Cup…)(A no-brainer here, as even the hard-core TV fans who, like everyone else, had to wait a day to experience another entertaining Cup road race.

But the heavy hits endured by many drivers during the race turned out to be a PR nightmare following the race, casting a dark shadow over the other wise gem of a race. Nearly all the drivers released from the infielde care voiced their displeasure on the lack of “Safer Barriers” that have never been installed on the possibility of a potentially dangerous situation for the drivers in “heavy impact” areas around the track.Nevertheless,I have only one thing to say to the “anti-road course Sprint Cup stock car races–(“Build a bridge and get over it…)