Road Racing Stock Cars
This past weekend I had the opportunity to head down to Watkins Glen International Raceway in New York State to witness the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen. It was a race filled weekend featuring the Grand-Am Rolex Series Crown Royal 200 on Friday, the NASCAR Nationwide Series Zippo 200 on Saturday and finally the NASCAR Sprint Cup Heluva Good Sour Cream Dips at the Glen on Sunday. Well, let’s make that last race Monday instead.
There will be more on the Grand-Am and Sprint Cup Races in Future Blogs. This blog however, has to do with Saturday’s exciting NASCAR Nationwide Series Zippo 200.
For those who live under a rock, NASCAR is the most popular racing series in North America. There are several divisions and regions of NASCAR all over North America including Canada’s own NASCAR Canadian Tire Series (formally CASCAR). The Nationwide series is NASCAR’s second most prominent series behind the Sprint Cup Series. This series features many up and coming talents, gristle veterans, Sprint Cup Superstars and, for the road races at least, hired guns. This year, two of the hired guns hailed from Canada, Ron Fellows and J.R. Fitzpatrick.
Qualifying for the race was held on the morning of Saturday August 8, 2009. The cars were flying as both Marcus Ambrose in the #47 STP Octane Booster Toyota Camry and Kevin Harvick in the #33 Copart Chevrolet Impala SS broke the previous track record. Harvick was able to edge out Ambrose for the pole with Robby Gordon, Scott Speed and Denny Hamlin rounding out the top 5. Ron fellows in the #5 Fastenal Chevrolet Impala SS qualified 10th while J.R. Fitzpatrick in the #4 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet Impala SS came 16th respectively.
Shortly after 3:00PM that same afternoon the green flag dropped on the Zippo 200. Early on the race was dominated by Kevin Harvick and Marcus Ambrose who both looked untouchable. As the race progressed pit strategy started to seperate the field. Abrose and Harvick fell back a bit as Carl Edwrads took the lead. After a long stint as the race leader, Carl Edwards in the #60 Save-a-lot Ford Fusion dropped back to 3rd after being passed by Marcus Ambrose and Kyle Busch.
The two continued to battle for several laps. With 19 laps left in the race Ambrose dived under Busch in the famous ‘bus stop’ chicane to take the lead. Busch went into the turn too fast and could not make the chicane. This led to a 3-second penalty being assessed to Busch dropping him to third.
During the race Joey Logano in the #20 Gamestop Toyota Camry had 3 separate on track skirmishes with Robby Gordon in the #155 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas/The Rogue Joint Toyota Camry. The final instance sent Logano into the tire wall ultimately setting the car on fire. Neither driver was hurt during the instance but Logano was fuming after the race calling Gordon and ‘idiot’.
Ron Fellows was up and down all day and was assessed a pitroad penalty late during the race. This forced him to restart in 22nd place but was able to rally back and pull off an impressive 5th place finish. J.R. Fitzpatrick spun out on the last corner of the race and crawled across the finish line in 18th position.
In the end, Ambrose was able to hang onto the lead and win his second consecutive Nationwide Race at Watkins Glen. Kyle Busch in the #18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota Camry was able to pass Carl Edwards for second place. Following Edwards was Harvick and Fellows to round out the top five.