Watkins Glen International Live Blog: Can Drivers Handle the Seven-Turn Track?
Race day has come once again. On the schedule this week is the high-speed road course at Watkins Glen International.
Coming off a week where Greg Biffle got a much needed victory for himself, his team, and Roush-Fenway Racing, teammate Carl Edwards goes out and wins the pole. It's his first pole of the season, and first on a road course.
Meanwhile, a lot of the heavy favorites are starting near the front or in the middle of the pack. Juan Pablo Montoya will be starting in third, while Tony Stewart will roll off in the sixth spot.
Infineon winner Jimmie Johnson will roll off ninth, as he is looking to regain some momentum that he lost following his victory at New Hampshire.
There is also Marcos Ambrose, who still cannot get over his gaff at Infineon when he shut the car off saving fuel and it wouldn't restart. Yesterday, Ambrose got his third consecutive victory in the Nationwide Series at The Glen.
With him leaving JTG Daugherty at the end of the season, he is doing everything in his power to get a win for the Cup team.
Jeff Gordon is not only looking for his first win on the season, but he is also on baby alert. His wife, Ingrid, is set to deliver any day now, and it could happen during the race.
Should Gordon get the alert that his wife is in labor, he will turn the reins of the No. 24 Chevrolet to Scott Pruitt.
So many different contenders are in this race, and anything can happen. Yesterday a huge wreck early took out many good race cars. Last year at this race, another major wreck took out the likes of Gordon, Ambrose and others.
It's a wide open field and another unpredictable afternoon for NASCAR competition. Coverage will begin on ESPN at Noon ET with NASCAR Countdown.
CHECKERED FLAG: He hasn't won on an oval, but after his run at Indy and a disappointment at Pocono, Juan Pablo Montoya wins at Watkins Glen.
LAP 90: WHITE FLAG-Montoya begins his final lap around the Glen, Ambrose loses second place to Kurt Busch.
LAP 89: Two to go and Montoya is cruising around The Glen.
LAP 88: 4.8 seconds is the gap for Montoya.
LAP 86: Regan Smith has a tire down, possibly a track bar mount broken. Robby Gordon also smoking. No caution as the lead is now over five seconds.
Lap 84: Ambrose says he may have a tire issue, as the lead grows to over four seconds.
LAP 83: The lead for Montoya has grown to 3.5 seconds. He is holding his line and clicking off the laps. Ambrose continues to fall back, saying possibly he has a problem.
LAP 81: Montoya is slightly quicker than Ambrose as the laps wind down. Just over two seconds between the two.
LAP 75: Green flag. Montoya gets the lead again on the restart, Kurt Busch makes the jump to second entering the esses, pushing Ambrose to third.
LAP 72: Burton says he couldn't turn his car when Busch got underneath him entering the corner. He sent his apologies to the No. 48 team as he did not intend on that happening.
LAP 71: CAUTION FLAG No. 5-Jimmie Johnson goes for a spin in turn seven, and connects with the outside wall. Possible contact came from Jeff Burton or Kyle Busch. After making contact with the wall, Denny Hamlin collides with Johnson in the smoke.
Hamlin frustrated, saying drivers are "dive-bombing" into the corner.
LAP 70: Green Flag. Ambrose gets a great restart, but Montoya jumped way out on the lead.
It's getting to crunch time as there's only 21 laps remaining.
LAP 66: CAUTION FLAG No. 4-Boris Said and Tony Stewart get together entering the esses. Looks like Said was running the preferred line but crowded Stewart on the outside, actually causing the No. 14 to kick up some dirt.
Brian Pattie on Said's radio: "The 14 [car] dumped us."
Stewart to Darian Grubb: "If he's gonna crowd us like that, I'm gonna hold my line."
Lap 65: Green flag. Montoya and Ambrose once again bring the field to the restart.
Lap 62: CAUTION FLAG No. 3: Debris is on the race track in turn 7, which it appears to be a driveshaft cover. Clint Bowyer now goes behind the wall, as it is believed the debris came from his car.
LAP 59: Both Ambrose and Montoya pit. Montoya gets the job done and gets out in front.
Allmendinger, Edwards and Gordon are also in. Kahne, Johnson and Menard finish their stops.
Lap 57: The gap is down to about two car-lengths, and Ambrose is the faster of the two cars.
Sam Hornish and Clint Bowyer are on pit road for service, final pit stops for both cars. Brad Keselowski also in.
Lap 55: Ambrose is still running down Montoya, and is closing really quickly.
LAP 49: Martin Truex Jr. goes for a spin in turn one and had a big tire rub. Expecting him to pit to have the fender pulled out.
Ambrose is making his move back to the front as he is back around Kurt Busch for second.
LAP 45: Green Flag/LEAD CHANGE
Ambrose brought the field to green, but a three-wide battle in turn 1 ended with Montoya to the front. Ambrose fell back to the fourth spot, got passed by both Busch and Allmendinger. He radioed to the crew that he wheel-hopped entering the corner.
LAP 42: CAUTION FLAG No. 2-Bobby Labonte comes to a stop after spinning in the inner loop, meanwhile Brad Keselowski takes a spin out of turn five.
LAP 40: LEAD CHANGE-Marcos Ambrose uses good braking to get past Montoya in turn 1.
LAP 35: Incredible battle for the lead between Montoya and Ambrose, but Montoya holds him off at each corner.
LAP 30: Green Flag-Montoya and Ambrose lead the field to the restart, but Edwards get a good run and makes the pass to take over second.
Allmendinger also falls to fifth.
LAP 29: CAUTION FLAG No. 1/LEAD CHANGE-P.J. Jones is stopped on the track, and cannot get the car restarted.
The pit cycle was also completed and Montoya finds himself back out front with Ambrose in second and Edwards running third.
LAP 28: LEAD CHANGE-Matt Kenseth leads as Ambrose comes in for his service.
LAP 27: LEAD CHANGE-Ambrose takes over the lead when Montoya pits. Many top contenders also come in for service including Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick.
LAP 25: Green flag stops have begun. Boris Said, Sam Hornish, Kurt Busch and others on for service.
On the track, Marcos Ambrose has moved up to second as he passes A.J. Allmendinger.
LAP 23: Robby Gordon is reporting he's having a transmission problem. It appears he lost third gear, which is going to play havoc in many areas of the track, especially entering the bus stop and the right-hand turn 1.
LAP 20: Johnson now running 37th following his pit stop. Did have a left-rear tire with a slight cut.
Kyle Busch also making great progress as he's now up to 18th.
LAP 15: One car moving up, one car moving back. Marcos Ambrose goes up to fourth after passing Edwards. Meanwhile, Jimmie Johnson falling back as he lost three spots in a lap, now running 15th.
Johnson decides to hit pit road because he feels he has a tire going down. Also, Scott Speed is behind the wall, saying there's a gearbox issue.
LAP 12: Kyle Busch making huge progress as he's up to 25th, however he is saying his throttle cable is sticking. Could become a huge problem later.
LAP 6: LEAD CHANGE-Montoya is able to make the pass around his teammate entering the bus stop. McMurray falls to third after being passed by A.J. Allmendinger
LAP 5: McMurray now getting a challenge from teammate Juan Pablo Montoya for the lead. Elliott Sadler makes a pit stop for fuel early, possibly having some handling issues in the No. 19.
LAP 4: Kyle Busch gaining back some positions, running 35th. Was not happy with the crew on the radio before the green flag.
LAP 1: Lead Change-Jamie McMurray goes to the front, Carl Edwards falls to fourth.
1:25 PM: Green flag is in the air.
1:22 PM: Kyle Busch is on pit road, says some of the lead used to make minimum weight in the car is loose. His team got the issue fixed, however he loses his 10th-place starting spot and not must start shotgun on the field.
1:14 PM: Cars are rolling on the track.
1:08 PM: Scott Blake, Senior Vice President of operations forHeluva Good! gives the command to fire engines.
1:01 PM: Bo Bice sings the National Anthem.
1:00 PM: Rev. Dave Fife provides today's invocation.
12:46 PM: All-Access with Richard Childress from Pocono.
12:37 PM: Jimmie Johnson says his team came in confident as they won at Infineon Raceway, but they actually didn't have a good car when they arrived at Watkins Glen.
He's hoping Chad Knaus and his team made the right changes for today's race.
12:25 PM: Jeff Gordon talks about how fatherhood has changed his racing career, and whether he will be retiring anytime soon.
According to Jeff, he doesn't plan on stepping out of the car the next few years.
12:13 PM: Elliott Sadler speaks of his wreck at Pocono last week. However, he is feeling extremely good today. Sore early in the week, but took advice from his doctors and others and is ready to go racing.
He will start 38th today.
12:07 PM: Pole-sitter Carl Edwards interviewed, saying key early is to stay out front. Also talks about how well the Roush-Fenway organization has done the last few weeks.
12:00 PM: NASCAR Countdown begins on ESPN. It is an absolutely perfect race day at Watkins Glen, with teh sun shining and not a cloud in the sky.
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