Last season, Marcos Ambrose saw his first career Cup victory slip away when he stalled his car under caution while leading in the final laps at Infineon. This weekendís race at Watkins Glen could be his golden opportunity to make amends for that mistake. Ambrose has never finished worse than third in three starts at The Glen, and his No. 9 Ford lit up the practice charts Friday. Ambrose posted the best overall average speed in both practice sessions Friday, including the fastest lap in Happy Hour. He likes like an elite option for Sundayís race.
Other drivers to watch include former Watkins Glen winner Kyle Busch. He topped the first session of the afternoon, edging defending race winner Juan Pablo Montoya. Both drivers have put up incredible numbers at the track, and fantasy owners have the green light to use both this weekend.
A.J. Allmendinger ranked third in the session, and he should immediately jump to the top of the list of potential sleepers. Allmendinger averages a top-10 finish at The Glen, and he finished a career-best fourth at the track last season. Not only does he have top-five potential this weekend, he is a legitimate threat to win.
Ryan Newman and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five in the first practice, and while Newman has finished as high as second at the track, he has been mediocre lately. Keselowski is on a roll after his win at Pocono, but all the braking and shifting could take a toll on hos broken ankle during the course of the race. In the end, owners are probably getting their best value with the top three on the speed charts.
In Happy Hour, Ambrose paved the way. He was followed by Kurt Busch, who is going for a season sweep of the road courses. Busch has finished in the top 10 in three straight starts at The Glen, including a second-place finish last season. If Ambrose is the favorite, Busch is right on his heels.
Carl Edwards, Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top five. Edwards has finished in the top five in each of his last two starts at The Glen, and he is one of the most consistent performers. Even with the bum ankle, Keselowski could be worth a look considering the strong practice times. Even Truex Jr. could make a nice sleeper pick. He has finished in the top 15 in three of his last four starts at the track, including two top 10s.
No driver ran 10 or more consecutive laps in either session.
One big name that struggled a bit on the practice charts was Tony Stewart. The five-time Watkins Glen failed to crack the top 15 in either session. However, owners may want to give him the benefit of the doubt. His five victories are the most in track history, and he hasnít finished worse than seventh in his last seven starts at the track. Not to mention the fact that he has six top-two finishes during the stretch.
Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Avg. Speed)
Rk indicates Best Lap standing
First Practice Speeds (sorted by Avg. Speed)
Rk indicates Best Lap standing
Combined Average Speeds (weighted by # of laps run in each session)
About Brian Polking
Racing has been part of Brian's life ever since he can remember, and he spent his childhood at dirt tracks throughout Ohio and Kentucky watching his father race. NASCAR naturally became his favorite sport, and he has been following the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series for most of his life. Brian majored in journalism and economics at Ohio State University and becoming a sports writer has always been his dream. Although he has covered everything from minor league baseball to the NCAA tournament, his passion has always been NASCAR. Brian has served as a NASCAR writer for a variety of sites, eventually becoming head editor of the NASCAR section for Fanball.com. His knowledge of NASCAR comes from his life-long love of racing, and he tries to add a personal touch to every article he writes. Brian is always up for talking NASCAR with anyone that wants to. Brian joined KFFL's team in 2011.
Don't miss these great reports....