Heluva Good! at The Glen: Winners and Losers

Patti RodischAnalyst IAugust 10, 2009

WATKINS GLEN, NY - AUGUST 10:  Tony Stewart (R), driver of the #14 Old Spice Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at Watkins Glen International on August 10, 2009 in Watkins Glen, New York.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Once again, Mother Nature affected the start time of the race. This was the Sprint cup driver’s final time to make right turns this season.

Check out the weather delayed winners and losers.

Winners

Tony Stewart

Oh, to be Tony Stewart. This year has gone exactly as no one expected, and now he has all but clinched his spot in the chase. More importantly, he picked up 10 more bonus points for the chase.

With his third win this year, Stewart didn’t dominate the race today. Instead, he quietly worked his way up front from his 14th-place starting position and worked fuel mileage perfectly.

Stewart worked traffic to perfection. He was able to build on his lead when a charging Marcos Ambrose bobbled and gave up ground to Stewart.

Stewart hasn’t hit a rough patch yet, but he hopes his good runs and success continues all the way to the seat on the stage come December.

Points: First

Marcos Ambrose

If Stewart wasn’t your pick, then Marcos Ambrose was the other top choice this weekend. Ambrose has really dominated not only the track the last two years but victory lane.

Ambrose started fourth but quickly moved to the front. Ambrose fell off sequence in pitting but worked his way back up front.

If it wasn’t for a bobble, the battle for the lead late would have been much closer. Ambrose came home second but is proving that he is a contender.

Ambrose has been flexing his own muscles this year, on the ovals and the road courses. His hardcore racing style and respect for his competitors have Ambrose quickly becoming not only a fan-favorite, but also respected throughout the garage.

The Aussie is getting it done in 2009.

Points: 17th

Casey Mears

I am a bit surprised to add him to this list, especially at a road course. But Casey Mears capped off what has been a successful weekend with a solid run on Monday, coming home in 15th.

Mears had a fast call all weekend long, he was sitting near the top in speeds and was able to adjust and really work on getting his car setup for the race. Mears started the day in 11th and quietly worked his way into the top 10.

Through pit cycles and with a strong car, this team earned their finish today.

They were unable to to get a top 10 finish, but this is something they can build on and move forward with.

Mears, who isn’t known for his road racing talent, might just wish we came to Watkins Glen more often.

Points: 21st

Losers

David Stremme

All weekend long, David Stremme credited his strong run to the Penske organization working together to help him and his team be prepared for this race. Stremme participated in a test session at Road Atlanta with Ryan Briscoe from the IRL team.

After Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. dialed in their cars, they focused on helping find Stremme the right setup for Sunday. Meanwhile, Stremme was running laps and learning the track.

Well Stremme got loose in the bump stops, and not only collected Kevin Harvick but also Jeff Gordon.

Stremme went down one lap to the leaders to fix the damage, and got the lucky dog on the Dale Earnhardt Jr. crash, and led the race before the pit cycles.

Stremme finished 26th.

Over the weekend, Stremme said that many teams couldn’t wait to leave the Glen and head to Michigan. However, Stremme was looking forward to the race.

Bet he changed his mind on that one.

Points: 31st

Kevin Harvick

This weekend started off fairly well for Kevin Harvick. He was coming off of a string of solid runs the last couple weeks and was looking to carry that momentum into the Glen.

Harvick started 21st, but soon was moving forward, to the front. After a round of pit stops under caution, he was well within the top 15. That’s when Harvick's promising day took a turn. Stremme spun out and collected Harvick.

The car badly damaged with A-frame, Harvick headed to the garage to make repairs. They returned to the track on lap 44, 21 laps down.

2009 has been a struggle for this team, and the race was a prime example that they have a strong car, only to get collected in someone else’s mess.

Harvick finished 35th

Sometimes it’s your year, and sometimes you’re Harvick.

Points: 22nd

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon is one driver who is glad to see this weekend over. Gordon, who has dominated Watkins Glen at times, has seen the other side of that recently. His finish of 37th speaks volumes as to how his weekend actually was.

This weekend, the team struggled to find speed and hook up the car on the racetrack. A poor qualifying effort had Gordon sitting deep in the pack, and he was never able to get higher than 14th. He was involved with the incident with Harvick but only had minor damage.

He was moving forward when Kasey Kahne got into Hornish and sent Hornish hard into the wall, where he came across the track slamming hard into Gordon.

Gordon's day was over.

Gordon, who has been suffering from back pain, acknowledged that this hit will hurt for weeks after he left the care center.

Gordon has to wonder where the magic went not only from Watkins Glen, but his early season success.

Points: Third

Lucky dog…

Joey Logano

It has been a rough weekend for Joey Logano. This was his first trip to the Glen, and Logano was looking to learn as much as possible, so he drove in the Nationwide race where he got into a altercation with Robby Gordon.

On Monday, Logano became a ping pong ball and got damage in the big one. The team went to work and repaired the damaged, and Logano finished 16th.

That says a lot not only about this team, but about Logano. For his first time on the track, racing with guys who have much more experience, he was able to take what looked to be a disappointing day and turn it into a strong finish.

That’s why is he is leading the rookie of the year standings, because of finishes like this.

Points: 19th

Final lap…

Once again, with weather a factor, there was talk of whether or not NASCAR top series should run rain tires. We only really have this statement when we come to Watkins Glen: For the road race at Sonoma, weather is rarely a factor.

To be honest, you can’t just throw on the tires and tell these drivers to go race. It just won’t happen. NASCAR and Goodyear need to test the tires.

Also, how do you test rain tires? Look at what we have seen the last two days, NASCAR can’t really control the weather.

Then you have to look at the cost to develop a new tire.

We also can’t forget the car. With teams still learning the nuances of this car, you add on a completely different tire and teams are really back to square one.

Finally, the vision of the drivers is critical, particularly since they are running side by side. Think about in your own car, when it rains, sometimes the humidity causes the window to fog up, and you turn on the defroster and that’s that. In these cars, you don’t have that control, and NASCAR would have to adapt the car.

There is much more that will have to be done rather than just throw on rain tires and race. The drivers and crew safety is at risk, and NASCAR can’t afford to not follow the same protocol they would use for anything else.

Next up is Michigan!

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