After rain messed played havoc with the schedule at Watkins Glen International Friday, NASCAR
squeezed in an extra practice session Saturday morning before qualifying. Former track winner Kyle Busch
paced a session that didn't have too many surprises. Juan Pablo Montoya
and Marcos Ambrose
cracked the top five, as well, and the two drivers have combined to win the last two races at The Glen. Carl Edwards
and Martin Truex Jr.
also posted top-five laps, and while Edwards has six straight finishes of 12th or better at the road course, Truex has finished sixth or better in three of his last four starts. Four-time Watkins Glen winner Jeff Gordon
had the sixth-fastest lap, and five-time winner Tony
was 13th.From a fantasy standpoint, the extra session didn't raise any serious questions about any of the top options for Sunday's race.
When the cars took the track for qualifying, it was Montoya winning the pole for the second week in a row. In addition to his win at Watkins Glen in 2010, he has finished seventh or better in his last four starts at the track. Busch backed up his time in the extra practice by qualifying on the outside of the front row, and he will be looking for his seventh straight top-10 finish at Watkins Glen. Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski will start third and fourth as they try for their first win at The Glen. Ambrose rounded out the top five and heavy hitters Stewart and Gordon both qualified in the top 12, as well.
Montoya, Busch and the rest of guys starting up front have to be smiling because putting down a strong qualifying lap at Watkins Glen is crucial for any driver hoping to get to Victory Lane. After all, 25 of the 26 races at the track have been won by a driver starting in the top 15. Steve Park holds the record for the worst starting spot of a race winner, and he only started 18th in his victory at the track in 2000. The trend has been even more dramatic in recent years with seven of the last eight races being won by drivers starting seventh or better.
Fantasy owners looking for a sleeper pick this weekend may want to consider Sam Hornish Jr. He qualified 17th, and he finished 14th in his most-recent start at Watkins Glen. He also won the pole for the Nationwide race at The Glen and has past road course experience form his open-wheel days. Hornish appears to have a decent feel for the track, and the extra laps should only his chances of running well Sunday.
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....