THE LEFT TURN
NASCAR at Watkins Glen: Preview, picks
The NASCAR Cup Series heads for Upstate New York this week for its annual trip to Watkins Glen. Watkins Glen is one of NASCAR’s most thrilling tracks on the schedule, we have seen some of the most intense battles here and with the playoffs on the line, we will see a lot of moves of desperation in the closing laps. Sunday will be the first race for this new car at The Glenn and with all of the new features of this race car, handling will be much better compared to what we saw in years past. There is a 38 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms in the area for Sunday, if the rains come, NASCAR will carry their rain tires just in case. Considering the Cup Series has raced in the rain only a handful of times over the course of its 74-year history, a lot of these drivers will have a difficult time adjusting to the elements. This will definitely be an interesting storyline to follow.
NASCAR will make history on Sunday as seven international drivers will be taking to the grid. We will see drivers like the German Mike Rockenfeller and Brit, Kyle Tilley, winners in some of the biggest races in IMSA Sports Cars. Regulars like the Mexican-born Daniel Suarez, who has made a great name for himself in the Cup Series with a win this year at Sonoma, and F1 participants such as Danii Kyvat. While there are many new faces, the name that stands out the most has to be the 2007 F1 World Champion, Kimmi Raikkonen. He will be making his NASCAR Cup Series debut for Trackhouse Racing and their newest Project91 entry. In all of my years of watching this sport, I have never seen a field as deep as this one. It will be awesome to see how these guys fare against the stars of NASCAR.
In the last two weeks, 2014 Cup Champion Kevin Harvick and his team have been on a roll. After a clutch victory two weeks ago at Michigan that assured their spot in the playoffs, Harvick and Crew Chief Rodney Childres dialed up another race-winning set-up last weekend at Richmond. All throughout the day, Harvick was consistently up front. He spent most of the middle stages of the race right behind Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, and Martin Truex Jr. He didn’t seem to have the speed to match Logano or Hamlin as they both had double the amount of fastest laps. His fortune would turn around as cloud cover would come over the track and suddenly his car would handle much better. He would reel in Logano with 68 laps to go and never look back to claim his second victory in a row.
The wave of momentum that this team is on right now was not what anyone expected. Even some of NASCAR’s most expert analysts like Steve Letarte would go on record stating that he didn’t believe this team would have the speed to make the playoffs. This sudden burst has similar vibes to Harvick’s boss Tony Stewart when he won the title back in 2011. Going into the playoffs, the other 15 drivers will have a lot of work to do in trying to keep this team from their second championship.
We have reached the Kurt Busch update portion of this article. Over the last four weeks, the veteran driver has been recovering from a concussion he sustained at Pocono in a practice crash. It appears that there is hope that he will return this week for the race at Watkins Glen. We are likely to get an update on his status on Friday. Hopefully, he will be fit to drive this week and can make up for some of the points they have missed out on.
The Kyle Busch sweepstakes continues this week as rumors keep flooding in. According to reports, an additional Chevy team has now made an offer to Busch. Many have speculated on whom that team was, could it be the newly formed Kaulig Racing? Maybe RCR would be considered? With no end in sight, I have a feeling that we won’t know where Kyle is going till the end of the season. While he's still at Joe Gibbs Racing, Busch was finally able to break through and get back into the top ten last week at Richmond.
The driver that I have winning this weekend is Tyler Reddick. Ever since breaking the seal at Road America, Reddick has been on a roll when it comes to road courses. He backed up his win with another victory at the Indy Road Course. One key to this race will be the restarts, Tyler is easily one of the best drivers on restarts. I look for him to score his third career win come Sunday.