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Sunday, August 10
Watkins Glen Int'l
Watkins Glen, NY
Busch Closes In On Top Seed With Win At Watkins Glen
By Reid Spencer, Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 10, 2008) -- If Kyle Busch appeared “vulnerable” in recent weeks to some of his fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitors, the aura of invincibility returned to the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota on Sunday at Watkins Glen International.
After a restart on Lap 86 of 90 in the Centurion Boats at The Glen, Busch held off victory-starved JGR teammate Tony Stewart by 2.275 seconds to claim his eighth victory of the season. Once he clinches a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, he will be the top seed regardless of what happens in the four races before the Chase field is set Sept. 6 at Richmond.
The win was the 12th of Busch’s career, and it negated the comments of his former Hendrick Motorsports teammates, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, who said they had seen weakness in the No. 18 team, based on lackluster performances in the past two races, at Indianapolis and Pocono.
“I’m sorry, what slump?” Busch said on his radio after crossing the finish line of the 2.45-mile road course. “They can keep trying to play these mind games. We’ll just keep winning.”
Crew chief Steve Addington also marveled at the notion that a two-week downturn in performance could indicate vulnerability in his team.
“I can’t believe it,” Addington said. “We don’t win a race in three or four weeks, and we’re in a bad slump?”
Marcos Ambrose, who picked up his first NASCAR victory in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race, worked his way through the field from the 43rd starting position to third at the finish in his third Cup start. Juan Pablo Montoya came home fourth, followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick.
Kyle Busch pulls away from Tony Stewart and Marcus Ambrose in the closing laps...
“Kyle ran an awesome race today,” said Stewart, who will leave JGR at the end of the season to drive for his own team, Stewart-Haas Racing. “He never made a mistake today, and he was fast in all the right spots.
“I can’t be disappointed with a second-place finish to a teammate like that. He’s been on fire this year. ... You’d cut off one of your legs almost to have the kind of year he’s having.”
A wild wreck in Turn 11 stopped the action on Lap 82 in what had been a relatively tame race to that point. Contact from the Toyota of Michael McDowell sent David Gilliland’s Ford spinning out of control into the guardrail. Sam Hornish Jr. slid sideways, driver’s-side-first, into the barrier of sand barrels dividing the racetrack from pit road.
Bobby Labonte limped away from his damaged No. 43 Dodge after the crash, which also damaged the cars of Michael Waltrip, Dave Blaney, Joe Nemechek, Max Papis and Reed Sorenson. Labonte was transported from the infield care center to a local hospital, where he was treated and released and cleared for competition.
McDowell and Gilliland were called to the NASCAR trailer after the incident to discuss the aggressive driving that triggered the wreck. No penalties were assessed.
A multi-car wreck on lap 85 caused a 43-minute red flag with only eight laps to go...
After a stoppage of more than 43 minutes, the race restarted on Lap 86 with Busch leading Stewart to the green flag, followed by Ambrose, Montoya, Truex, Denny Hamlin and Harvick.
Notes: Jimmie Johnson had one of the strongest cars Sunday, but a flat left rear tire forced the No. 48 Chevrolet to make an early pit stop on Lap 42. Johnson rallied from the setback to finish seventh. ... Busch swept both Cup road course races this season, having won at Infineon Raceway in June. He also won on the road course at Mexico City in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this year and finished second to Ambrose in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide race at The Glen. ... Ambrose’s third-place finish was the first top five for the Wood Brothers since Ricky Rudd finished fourth at Bristol on Aug. 27, 2005. ... Dale Earnhardt Jr. waited one lap too long to pit and got caught when the caution came out on Lap 64. Forced to pit under the yellow, he restarted 32nd on Lap 67, finished the race in 22nd and dropped from second to fourth in the Cup standings.
Complete Race Results click here
Post-Race Driver Point Standings click here
The Race: Centurion Boats at The Glen
The Place: Watkins Glen International
The Track: 2.45-mile road course
The Distance: 220.5 miles/90 laps
TV: ESPN, pre-race at 2 p.m. AT
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS Satellite.
2007 Winner: Tony Stewart
2007 Polesitter: None (weather)
Pre-Race Schedule/ET: Friday— Practice, 11:45 a.m.-1:20 p.m. Qualifying, 3:10 p.m. Saturday— Practice—noon-12:45 p.m. and 1:20-2:20 p.m.
Year-To-Date Race Results & Driver Point Standings click here
Broadcast Times - AT*
Practice: Friday, Aug 8 (ESPN2 at 1 p.m.)
Qualifying: Friday, Aug 8 (ESPN2 & TSN-alt at 4 p.m.)
Practice: Saturday, Aug 9 (ESPN2 at 1 p.m.)
Final Practice: Saturday, Aug 9 (ESPN2 at 2:30 p.m.)
RaceDay: Sunday, Aug 10 (SPEED at Noon p.m.)
Pre-Race: Sunday, Aug 10 (ESPN & TSN-alt at 2 p.m.)
Race: Sunday, Aug 10 (ESPN & TSN-alt at 3 p.m.)
*AT is one hour ahead of ET, i.e. if it's 2 p.m./AT - it's 1 p.m./ET...
Rain washed out qualifying for the Centurion Boats at the Glen; Sunday's starting lineup is set according to the NASCAR rulebook,
based on current owner point standings...
Starting Lineup click here
- Numbers Game: Stewart Aims For 1st ‘08 Win, 5th At The Glen...Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Toyota) has yet to crack the win column this season, but statistics alone make him an overwhelming favorite for Sunday’s Centurion Boats at the Glen.
The two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion leads five important categories of pre-race Loop Data stats for the event — the annual road-course event at Watkins Glen International.
As the defending race champion, Stewart’s pursuing not only a second consecutive win at the upstate New York track, but his fourth in the last five series races there.
Lastly, he and four-time series champion Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) — NASCAR’s all-time leader with nine road-course wins — have combined to win 15 of the last 22 series events at road courses. That includes eight of the last 11 at Watkins Glen.
Stewart, who’s ninth in the series standings, has two top-five finishes in his last three races, the latest a runner-up finish last Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
As for pre-race Loop Data for Watkins Glen, he leads Driver Rating (137.9), Average Running Position (3.3), Fastest Laps Run (76), Laps in the Top 15 (264) and Average Green Flag Speed (119.360 mph). He has four wins, five top fives and seven top 10s in nine career starts there.
- Race To The Chase: 50 Bonus Points Remain...Winning is the focus with five events remaining before the 2008 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins Sept. 14 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The second half of the Race to the Chase — the 10 events preceding the cutoff event at Richmond International Raceway — begins this Sunday at Watkins Glen. Drivers accrue 10 bonus points for each win during the season’s first 26 races, and the top 12, who qualify for the Chase, are seeded according to bonus-point totals.
Standings leader Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota) holds the top spot with a series-high seven wins (70 bonus points).
Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford), thanks to Sunday’s win at Pocono (his fourth in ‘08), would be seeded second, followed by Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) and Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge). Kahne and Johnson each have two wins; based on tiebreakers, Johnson earns the third seed.
Four other drivers currently in the top 12 have one win in ‘08 — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet), Clint Bowyer (No. 07 DirecTV Chevrolet), Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) and Jeff Burton (No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet).
Earnhardt, Bowyer, Hamlin and Burton would be seeded fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.
Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford) and Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet) — winless thus far in ‘08 — would be seeded ninth, 10th, 11th and 12, respectively.
- Winning Drivers Usually Win At The Glen...NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who win championships tend to win at Watkins Glen.
Sunday’s Centurion Boats at The Glen marks the 26th series event at the upstate New York road course, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this season.
Fifteen drivers have won on the 2.45-mile track, among them three series champions — Rusty Wallace, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart.
Combined, those 15 drivers have an impressive 363 total career victories.
In fact, it’s not usual for series champions to battle for wins at The Glen. Exhibit A: Gordon and Stewart were part of a suspenseful finish to last year’s event; Gordon, the polesitter, spun in Turn 1 while leading late, and saw Stewart usurp his lead for the win.
Gordon, who celebrated his 37th birthday on Monday, is NASCAR’s all-time leader with nine road-course wins.
“I love racing at Watkins Glen,” he said. “It's fast, and it’s a track that suits our cars very, very well “
Watkins Glen’s winning history may present the next hurdle for standings leader Kyle Busch.
Busch’s series-high seven wins include a victory earlier this season in the schedule’s only other road-course event, at Infineon Raceway.
A win on Sunday would mean the ‘08 road-course sweep for Busch, who also won the NASCAR Nationwide Series event in Mexico City in March.
If he does prevail, he’ll become the first driver to win three national-series road-course events in one season. Busch could use the boost; he’s coming off two consecutive finishes outside the top 10.
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