Monday, August 15, 2011

Rating the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen: You Rate the Race!!

Light rain and fog covered Watkins Glen on Monday morning, but the Sprint Cup Series cars provided the lightning and thunder in a hard-hitting race that brought yet another first–time winner.

This week Monday Morning Crew Chief lets you decide the Rating of the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen. Check out the Rating System page and put your rating on this one.

Marcos Ambrose deserves a huge congratulations for winning this race. He has been close in almost every road-course race since he entered the sport in 2008. He has scored a top-five finish in every road course race of his career, except 2010 at Sonoma when he infamously shut off the engine going up a hill. However, he still finished sixth that race. That is simply an incredible record he has put together.

While Ambrose broke through and finally got to Victory Lane, a good chunk of the rest of the field ended up back in the garage area with cars that were absolutely destroyed.

Those cars are more torn up than any car from the rest of the season combined, unless you include the car Brad Keselowski wrecked in a test two weeks ago at Road Atlanta, which is also a road course.

The drivers always talk about Watkins Glen being the superspeedway of road courses, and that certainly held true Monday. Ten or 15 years ago, Denny Hamlin, David Ragan and David Reutimann might have been seriously injured or worse from those hits, and it’s unbelievable they all happened in the same race.

Watkins Glen is likely going to receive plenty of criticism for not having safer walls, and the track deserves it. But, this is a problem across the sport. Pocono finally put up a fence and SAFER barriers down the Long Pond straightaway for this season, and Richmond has work to do to cover the inside wall on the backstretch where Jeff Gordon found exposed concrete in the spring race.

Why is it so tough to get these tracks to cover everything with a SAFER barrier? No matter how unlikely it looks that a car could hit a certain part of the wall, it will at some point. In Monday’s case, however, it’s easy to picture a car crashing where Ragan did.

It would be nice if tracks were actually proactive for once. Dale Earnhardt died before real safety improvements were made, Kasey Kahne nearly flipped out of Pocono before they put the fence up. Auto racing is simply too dangerous to take chances.

Finally, we can’t leave out the Boris Said-Greg Biffle scuffle after the race. A fight nearly broke out between the two, and Said certainly made his interview count afterward, calling Biffle an “unprofessional little scaredy-cat” and “a chump.”

Only Said would come up with gems like those. Just imagine Kyle Busch calling Kevin Harvick a chump.

Too bad Said won’t be around for the rest of the year, but he certainly made his final appearance.


  1. Hey jmayer!

    Maybe rate each race in stages... Like early, mid and late. This run went from a 2 early to a 4 late... So the average is a 3 for the whole?

    According to Tez, our resident engineer, those safer barriers cost a bunch of money and doesn't it always boil down to that?

    A heartly congratulations to Marcos Ambrose!

  2. Tez here...IE still hates me trying to log into my google account on this site :(

    And yep, those SAFER barriers cost around $1500/yard so the tracks have to take a good look at where they believe are the best places for them before sitting down and going over if more is required for the next time. And given the state of things on the financial side the last few years....harder to do for a road course than an oval.

    I bet when they looked at those fences at turn 2, they thought the accident most likely to occur would have been the car sliding against it from a 'nicer' impact angle, not being turned and ramming head on.

  3. forgot to rate it, oops...I agree with Dwindy's assessment.

    The main interest for me was whether the 2 or 3 stop strategy was the winning one. Given where Brad wound up, I'd say the 2 stop was the right call, Marcos made up the difference with the help of those yellows. However, that takes nothing away from the fact that he was the best driver on the day and, finally, caught the right breaks at the right time :)

  4. Dwindy1 - Regardless of the cost, the tracks always fix them after a big wreck. If the money is going to be spent anyway, might as well do it before a driver gets hurt. Can you put a price on safety?

    Tez - Congratulations on Ambrose's win! He drove the best race Monday. It looked like he might not make it back through the field once Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski got out front. Heck of a job. These breakthrough wins also usually spell good things in the near future for those teams, as well. Could be a fun final push to the Chase.

  5. While there were major drawbacks- most notably the race being run at 7am on Monday morning I'd have to bump it up a notch from my blogger buddies and give it 4 stars based on your rating system.

    Plenty of hard wrecks, people taking out the leader (ahem kurt) and themselves (ahem smoke), Junyer running strong (!), strategy, threatening weather keeping them up on the wheel and making passes in the few places you could make them on the track not to mention the drama in the garage after the race and the good guy winning it...

    Only downside was the long boring middle part! LOL

  6. Don't get me wrong jmayer, I'm all for safety measures being state of the art, but the reality is the God Almighty Dollar trumps everything until, like you point out, a disaster occurs. I'm sure Watkins Glen's owner (NASCAR) doesn't want another black eye down the road and they'll correct the problems.

    I do have to say the COT is saving lives even without safer barriers. We've just seen over the last couple of weeks two high speed, head on accidents into old style retaining barriers and the drivers, although severely shaken, were not seriously injured. That's great testimony to NASCAR and their concern for the safety of their drivers. Now if we can maintain the safety standards and yet get more individuality back into the various makes of cars... I'm hoping that's what NASCAR is working on with their next edition of the COT.

  7. klvalus - That's a pretty good summation. It is weird to wake up to a live race. And to have the entire rest of the day after it is over.

    Dwindy1 - Absolutely. It's unfortunate, but the truth. This would have been a devastating couple of weeks for auto racing it NASCAR still ran the old cars. Thank God Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, David Ragan and David Reutimann are OK.

    In other semi-related news, sounds like Rockingham Speedway is going to install SAFER barriers. That is fantastic news for folks who want the Rock to come back.

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