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August 11, 2011

THE LEADER FILES


Page 2 SPRINT CUP SERIES Heluva Good Sour Cream Dips at The Glen Site: Watkins Glen Schedule: Friday, practice noon and 4:10 p.m. (Speed Channel); Saturday, qualifying, 11:40 a.m. (Speed Channel); Sunday, race, 1 p.m. (ESPN). Track: Watkins Glen International (2.45mile, 7-turn road course). Distance: 90 laps (220.5 miles). Last year: Juan Pablo Montoya took care of his car to overtake Marcos Ambrose and cruise to his second-career Sprint Cup Series victory. Last race: Despite a broken ankle, Brad Keselowski won the Good Sam 500 at Pocono Raceway. Fast facts: Tony Stewart leads all NASCAR drivers with five wins at The Glen, and has completed every lap at the track since 1999. ... From 1989-2005, Mark Martin’s worst finish was 10th – the longest stretch of top-10 finishes in Glen history. ... Jeff Gordon has won in Schuyler County four STEWART times, but none since 2001. ... Carl Edwards, who leads the Sprint

ON TRACK THIS WEEKEND

Cup Series standings, took pole position for last year’s race. ... Gordon still holds the qualifying record at 124.580 mph, set in 2003. ... The farthest back any driver has started to win the race is 18th, when Steve Park scored his first-career victory in 2000. ... The race has been won from pole position nine times in 28 NASCAR events – including three straight by Martin from 1993-95.

Next race: August 21, Pure Michigan 400, Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich. NATIONWIDE SERIES Zippo 200 at The Glen Site: Watkins Glen Schedule: Friday, practice, 2 p.m.; Saturday, qualifying, 9:45 a.m. (Speed Channel); race,

2 p.m. (ESPN). Track: Watkins Glen International (2.45-mile, 7-turn road course). Distance: 82 laps (200.9 miles). Last year: Marcos Ambrose three-peated at The Glen, winning his third straight Nationwide Series race in Schuyler County. Joey Logano finished second and Kevin H a rvick was third. Last race: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was, ahem, pushed across the finish line by teammate Carl Edwards at Iowa. Stenhouse’s engine blew on the final lap of the race and Edwards slammed into his Ford Mustang – sending both crashed cars spinning across the line. Fast facts: Te r ry Labonte won four times in NASCAR’s AAA circuit (1991, 1994-96). ... Only two drivers racing for Nationwide Series championship points to win were Mike McLaughlin in 1997 and Marcos Ambrose in 2008. BUSCH ... Kyle Busch can pass


Page 3 Mark Martin as the series win leader – the two are tied at 49 apiece. ... Ambrose set the qualifying record at 122.410 mph last year. ... Ambrose has an average finish of 4.0 in four starts at The Glen, while Labonte’s average finish is 2.0 in seven starts with a low of fifth place in 1997. Next race: August 20, NAPA Auto Parts 200, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal. ROLEX SERIES Watkins Glen 200 Site: Watkins Glen Schedule: Friday, practice, 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., qualifying, 5:40 p.m.; Saturday, race, 6 p.m. (Speed Channel). Track: Watkins Glen International (2.45-mile, 7-turn road course). Distance: 82 laps (200.9 miles). Last year: Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas won by nearly three seconds for their seventh of nine wins in 2010. The pair also won the sixhour race at The Glen in June. Last race: Pruett and Rojas won a fuel mileage race for their championship lead-extending fifth victory of the season. Fast facts: In the Daytona Prototype era, Scott Pruett has six victories at The Glen on two

different configurations with three different codrivers. ... Max Angelelli has won here three times. PRUETT ... Nic Jonsson and Ricardo Zonta won the 200-mile race here in 2009 starting eighth – the furthest back a team has been able to win. ... Jon Fogarty has the short-course DP record at 135.548 mph, set in 2009. Sylvain Tremblay set the GT qualifying record in 2010 at 112.906 mph. ... The all-time short-course speed record was set by Davy Jones’ Jaguar XJR-14 in 1992 at a blistering 150.334 mph. ... James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger each have three Rolex Series wins. Next race: August 20, Montreal 200, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal.

Weekend Schedule Friday 8 a.m. – Grandstands, ticket office, Pyramid open 9 a.m. – Rolex Series practice 11 a.m. – Rolex Series practice Noon – Sprint Cup practice 2 p.m. – Nationwide Series practice 4:10 p.m. – Sprint Cup final practice 5:40 p.m. – Rolex Series qualifying 6:30 p.m. – Rolex Series final practice Saturday 7 a.m. – Donuts with the president (a sit-down with Michael Printup at Stand 5) 8 a.m. – Grandstands, midway, ticket office open 9:45 a.m. – Nationwide Series qualifying 11:40 a.m. – Sprint Cup qualifying 2 p.m. – Zippo 200 Nationwide Series race (82 laps) 6 p.m. – Canadian Tire 200 Rolex Series race (82 laps) Sunday 10 a.m. – Grandstands open 12:30 p.m. – Driver introductions 1 p.m. – Heluva Good Sour Cream Dips at The Glen Sprint Cup Series race (90 laps)

All-Time Grand-Am Winners 1994—Gianpierro Moretti/Eliseo Salazar, Ferrari 333SP 1995—Butch Leitzinger/James Weaver, Riley&Scott Mk3-Ford 1996—Max Papis/Gianpierro Moretti, Ferrari 333SP 1997—Elliot ForbesRobinson/Butch Leitzinger/James Weaver, Riley&Scott Mk3-Ford 1998—Gianpiero Moretti/Didier Theys/Mauro Baldi, Ferrari 333SP *1999—David Donohue/JeanPhilippe Belloc, Viper GTS-R 2000—James Weaver/Andy Wallace/Butch Leitzinger, FordRiley&Scott 2001—Fredy Lienhard/Didier Theys/Mauro Baldi, Judd-Ferrari **2001—Butch Leitzinger/James Weaver, Ford-Riley&Scott 2002—Chris Dyson/James Weaver, Ford-Riley&Scott **2002—Butch Leitzinger/Rob Dyson, Ford-Riley&Scott 2003—Mike Borkowski/Scott Goodyear/David Donohue, Porsche-Fabcar **2003—Te r ry Borcheller/Forest Barber, Chevrolet-Doran 2004—Max Papis/Scott Pruett, Lexus-Riley

**2004—Didier Theys/Jan Magnussen, Lexus-Doran 2005—Nic Johnsson/Tracy Krohn, Pontiac-Riley **2005—Max Angelelli/Wayne Taylor, Pontiac-Riley **2005—Max Angelelli/Wayne Taylor, Pontiac-Riley 2006—Jorg Bergmeister/Boris Said, Ford-Riley **2006—Scott Pruett/Luiz Diaz, Lexus-Riley 2007—Alex Gurney/Jon Fogarty, Pontiac-Riley **2007—Alex Gurney/Jon Fogarty, Pontiac-Riley 2008—Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas, Lexus-Riley **2008—Brian Frisselle/Mark Wilkins, Ford-Riley 2009—Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas, Lexus-Riley **2009—Nic Jonsson/Ricardo Zonta, Ford-Lola 2010—Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas, BMW-Riley **2010—Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas, BMW-Riley 2011—Ricky Taylor/Max Angelelli, Chevrolet-Dallara **—summer sprint race


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The girl no one wanted to dance with, until now

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emember that girl no one wanted to dance with at the freshman mixer, despite all her friends’ urging? She wasn’t hideous or anything, in fact there were plenty of guys who would sell their collection of G.I. Joe figures – still in the original packing, but COMMENTARY Stormshadow is off-limits – to awkwardly “hold” her during a three-minute Cutting Crew song. Alas, the mixer was the same Chris Gill weekend as Jimmy’s big Dungeons and Dragons campaign in his parents’ basement. You were at the dance, but too cool to so much as warn her she’s in the path of a cruise missile, forget sashaying across the gymnasium floor as her dance partner. Years later, you’re in Wegmans’ produce section – not because you chose a healthy lifestyle or anything, but because you need ingredients to fill your buddy’s Gatorade cooler for an epic mai tai. While staring quizzically at the pineapples, a sweet, unfamiliar voice says “Hey there. I haven’t seen you

since high school.” Turn around and there’s a blonde bombshell, the kind usually reserved for Hef’s grotto. While your fingers strain to maintain a suddenly-sweaty grip on the plastic basket handle, weighed down by fruit you otherwise wouldn’t be buying, your brain frantically tries to recall her. No name. No recollection. Nothing comes to mind. Even if you had already put a hurt on the epic mai tai, surely you’d remember a stunning beauty such as the one who stands before of you. Still, nothing. You guessed it: the girl only the D&D kids were willing to dance with. She aged exceptionally well, which is more than anyone can say for your liver. I imagine that’s how Watkins Glen International feels lately. For years, The Glen was the butt of jokes on the NASCAR circuit, loathed by the national press and viewed as the proverbial red-headed stepchild in the International Speedway Corp. family. A decade ago, The Glen was rumored to be sold off, at worst. At best, it was destined to lose the superlucrative NASCAR weekend to a new speedway on Staten Island – one to be built and promoted by the step-mother. In the 2000s, everything

started to change, albeit slowly. The Glen had something of a makeover, while at the same time a series of events occurred that certainly favored the track. In 2005, the IndyCar Series held its inaugural race at The Glen, giving the track, if nothing else, a series to fall back on if NASCAR bolted Schuyler County for the New York City skyline. It also helped legitimize a course built with fast, open-wheel cars in mind. I know, that didn’t end so well, but it did expose the circuit, and the region, to a new kind of audience. Meanwhile, the track was undergoing massive renovations to the infrastructure and facilities. From 2001-10, nearly $30 million was spent on the most comprehensive modernization project in the track’s history. New buildings (with running water and everything), a slew of safety modifications and grandstands popped up every year. As The Glen changed, so, too, did people in NASCAR and the press. Much of the old guard, who saw road racing as the same kind of necessary evil as unclogging a toilet, was retiring on both fronts. They were replaced by younger drivers and scribes who actually got a

kick out of the action on the winding tracks, and at the same time became increasingly disgusted by a lack of fenderbashing races once enjoyed at tracks like North Wilkesboro, Rockingham and a recentlydeclawed Bristol. In 2007, a new car was developed for the Sprint Cup Series, and it was an immediate hit on the road courses. Sturdier, a little tricky to drive and safer, the “Car of Tomorrow” allowed drivers to bounce off each other several times with minimal impact on performance. You can imagine what the result is when 43 testosteronebuzzed competitors climb behind the wheel. Sports Illustrated named the 2007 Centurion Boats at The Glen the best race of the year – the nicest thing said in the national press about the track since the Carter family occupied the White House. Last year the Heluva Good Sour Cream Dips at The Glen (or HGSCDATG) was only one of three Sprint Cup races to grow attendance, thanks in large part to relatively inexpensive tickets and a lot of fender smashing. In January, Scene Daily – the former Winston Cup Scene, and gold standard for NASCAR publications, still – ranked The Glen fifth on its

list of top 10 races to see in 2011. You don’t want to know what kind of lists Winston Cup Scene put The Glen on in the 1990s, but most included terms Quentin Tarantino shies away from. Some columnists called for its utter annihilation. This year alone The Glen has grown attendance for staple events, while adding a successful Phish festival – well, those who can remember it say it was great – and the Mobil 1 Car Swap in June, which attracted national and international press with a one-hour special on Speed Channel. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the first Formula One race in Schuyler County, a bittersweet anniversary celebration. Suddenly, the transformation of the dour girl in the corner of the gym – once repellent to the opposite sex – is complete. Haters, don’t worry. The Glen is much more forgiving than a teenage girl scorned. You’re welcome back anytime. Remember, she was here before you, and she’ll be here long after you’re gone. Just show a little respect from now on. ■ Chris Gill, who covers auto racing for The Leader, can be reached at cmgill@the-leader.com.


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The fourth time’s a charm? Marcos Ambrose has been so close to his first win at The Glen BY CHRIS GILL

cmgill@the-leader.com

By conservative estimates, Marcos Ambrose should be at least a two-time winner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series by now. There was his Sprint Cup debut in 2008 at Infineon Raceway, when he pushed the Wood Brothers’ Ford into contention with the fastest car on the track, only to have the transmission expire in the last quarter of the race. That same year at Watkins Glen International, he drove from dead last in the field to third place. In two starts, he was already considered among, if not the,

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best road racers in the series. In 2009, he finished third at Infineon Raceway and second to Tony Stewart at The Glen. Then there was last season, where the Tasmanian suffered two wrenching defeats. At Infineon Raceway, while leading, he shut the motor off under caution to save fuel. However, the car wouldn’t turn over as the field approached the uphill swing past pit lane. He faded back while the leaders passed his stalled car with four laps remaining and eventually rallied for sixth place. Coming back to The Glen, where he’d won the last three Nationwide Series races, Ambrose carefully picked off his way to the front from his 11th starting position


Page 6 and began pressuring Juan Pablo Montoya, who relented until pit stops cycled through. The two aces swapped the lead five times in the middle stages of the race, putting on a road racing clinic for the masses. However, after the last round of stops, the abused brakes on Ambrose’s car couldn’t keep contact with Montoya, and he had to settle for third place. Defeats like those usually do one of two things – break a man or strengthen his resolve. Some drivers would feel a sense of entitlement after getting screwed by fate, but not Ambrose. Sure he’s frustrated, but not incensed. “ I t ’s just tough. You’re in the toughest sport in the world in racing,” he said. “ You rely the other competitors, your team, your car – it’s pretty hard to win. I don’t feel like I’m owed anything, I’ve Marcos Ambrose got to work for it.” This weekend, Ambrose is still at The Glen, and would be the among the favorites to win the no-brainer pick to snare a fourth Heluva Good Sour Cream Dips straight Zippo 200 in Saturday’s

“It’s just tough. You’re in the toughest sport in the world in racing You rely the other competitors, your team, your car – it’s pretty hard to win. I don’t feel like I’m owed anything, I’ve got to work for it.”

support race (what could be a historic feat, since no driver or team has ever won four straight at The Glen in a pro series), which he has not been entered to race in this year. In six combined starts at The Glen (Cup and Nationwide), Ambrose’s worst finish is third with three victories and a pole position. If not for a rained out qualifying session in 2008, his average start would be 8.2. “Yeah, I’m ready to get up there. It’s a great track, great time of the year to be up there and I just feel good about going up there,” he said. “It’s been good to me, that track. I’ve done well in the Naionwide Series, came close to winning in a Cup car. I’m not guaranteeing success, but I feel like we’re going to be a real contender up there. I look forward to closing the deal if I can. “The road courses have been good to me in the Cup series, but I'm looking for that win. It doesn't really matter what I've done in the past, it's what I'm

going to do in the future, and winning is clearly on the list.” The only difference this year is his team. Ambrose won three straight 200-milers and placed third and second in the Cup cars with Tad Geschickter, a one-car team coowned by former NBA forward Brad Dougherty. In 2011, Ambrose joined Richard Petty Motorsports – a two-car operation with A.J. Allmendinger as the other driver – and the 1999 championship-winning crew chief Todd Parrott calling the shots. With Ford power and sponsorship from Stanley and DeWalt, it would appear Ambrose is better prepared than he was with either the Wood Brothers or Geschickter. When it comes to road racing, it really d o e s n ’t matter who or what Ambrose drives. “I’ve had nothing wrong with my equipment in the past, so I’ve got no problem there,” he said. “I’ve got as good a chance this year as I’ve had any.”

All-Time Nationwide Series Winners 1991—Terry Labonte, Oldsmobile, Busch Series 1992—Ernie Irvan, Chevrolet, Busch Series 1993—Bill Elliott, Ford, Busch Series 1994—Terry Labonte, Chevrolet, Busch Series 1995—Terry Labonte, Chevrolet, Busch Series 1996—Terry Labonte, Chevrolet, Busch Series 1997—Mike McLaughlin, Chevrolet, Busch Series 1998—Ron Fellows, Chevrolet, Busch Series 1999—Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, Busch Series 2000—Ron Fellows, Chevrolet, Busch Series 2001—Ron Fellows, Chevrolet, Busch Series 2005—Ryan Newman, Dodge, Busch Series 2006—Kurt Busch, Dodge, Busch Series 2007—Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, Busch Series 2008—Marcos Ambrose, Chevrolet, Nationwide Series 2009—Marcos Ambrose, Toyota, Nationwide Series 2010—Marcos Ambrose, Chevrolet, Nationwide Series


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Andy Lally’s uphill battle Rookie relishes return to Watkins Glen this weekend BY CHRIS GILL

who has been driving for Kevin Buckler’s TRG team for a decade. “That's the fun part When you think about it, about racing, is trying to overAndy Lally has one of the most come those obstacles and chaldiverse resumes at Watkins Glen lenges. We're trying, we're tryInternational this weekend. ing real hard.” The 36-year-old from Long Buckler, a privateer who built Island has raced prototypes, GT TRG from the ground up and and stock cars on all four corstunned the racing world in ners of the Earth and hit just 2002 by winning the 24 Hours about every major race track in of Le Mans with virtually no the U.S. Along the way he’s factory support. In 2003, his earned more than three dozen GT Porsche won the Rolex 24 victories in four different pro overall – a feat not seen in 25 series and won three Grand-Am years. It wasn’t long before Rolex Series championships. TRG became a GT powerhouse, “I'm one of the most fortuand eventually TRG partnered nate people in the world, with Krohn Racing – a shortregardless of motorsports and lived, but highly successful race car drivers. I’ve got to see venture that pushed Jorg the coolest race tracks, period, Bergmeister to the Daytona whether it’s oval or road Prototype championship. course,” Lally said at Pocono In 2008, TRG started a Raceway. “I’ve got to add it up. Camping World Truck Series I wonder how many tracks I’ve program which produced modactually driven on now with est success. The high point was most the NASCAR schedule Donny Lia’s stunning upset at under my belt and just about Mansfield, and in 2009 the every major road course in the operation moved to the Sprint country.” Cup Series. In less than three That kind of experience THE LEADER FILES seasons, TRG has had 11 differhelped him get into the Andy Lally leads Kasey Kahne through the esses during last year’s Heluva Good Sour Cream ent drivers behind the wheel, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but including Winston Cup Series through his first 18 races of a rookie campaign, it hasn’t equated to results. Lally, who joined The Racers Group for some one-off races in 2009 and 2010 to secure a seat for the full schedule this season, is mired in 33rd place in the driver standings with a seasonhigh 19th at Talladega in April. For a guy who has conquered Le Mans and proven to be one of the best GT racers of his era, 2011 has been humbling. “I've been looking forward to taking that challenge up and see how we can do against these guys. I certainly knew coming in we were going to be the underdogs and the odds were against us and it wasn't going to be an easy go of it,” said Lally, cmgill@the-leader.com


Page 8 champ Bobby Labonte, and only two top-10 finishes. This season, Buckler put Lally in the seat for a full campaign. “For a single-car team with a rookie driver that really hasn't been to these tracks before, it's definitely been a tough first half of the season, and i expect it to be a tough second half of the season,” Lally said. “At least we're coming to places we've been before and have a little bit of notes on, and I have my own notes on, so hopefully we can keep on moving up the ladder here.” In 18 races, the team has switched from Chevrolet to Ford and had three different crew chiefs. Doug Richert, who helped Dale Earnhardt win a series crown in 1980, has been with the team since May and is trying to lead the team to better times. “We're still very much looking for our baseline. We just keep changing and evolving, it's very different everytime we show up. On the performance side, you're going up against the best in the world here,” Lally said. “That means every single detail has to be paid attention to - you can't leave any rock unturned to find speed here. “There's almost an infinite amount of variables that you

“There's almost an infinite amount of variables that you can have with the setups of these cars. We don't live in the wind tunnel, we don't have a pulldown rig in the shop, and we don't have all the sim work and sim models we need. We hardly have any sim models at all.” Andy Lally can have with the setups of these cars. We don't live in the wind tunnel, we don't have a pull-down rig in the shop, and we don't have all the sim work and sim models we need. We hardly have any sim models at all. We're doing a lot seat-of-thepants stuff and my crew chief, Doug Richert, has done a real

good job of what he's done in the past and adapting it to our new cars.” This weekend, Lally has cause to smile. “I can’t wait to get to Watkins Glen, for multiple reasons. One, it's the site of my best finish in Cup, it's my favorite race track and it's in my home state. And we're back on a road course,” he said. Lally has four Rolex Series victories at The Glen – three with TRG – to go along with nine podium finishes and he’s won three Continental Ti r e Series/Grand-Am Cup/Koni Challenge wins at the historic track. He finished 18th in last year’s Sprint Cup race for his career high – with no assistance from fuel strategy or attrition. Sunday’s Heluva Good Sour Cream Dips at The Glen is a chance for something positive to happen. That’s all TRG needs right now. “TRG as a race team has been successful at every part of motorsport that it's tried to be. We've won Le Mans, we've won Daytona (24 hours), we've won championships, but this is as big as it gets right here,” Lally said. “This is the place I want to be personally. I think the commitment from our owners at TRG has been great, especially

Grand-Am Rolex Series full of moonlighters this weekend has been a struggle for both myself and Ricky – and he's got The Grand-Am Rolex Series a chance to win the will feature a slew of new championship and we've got a and/or recognizable names in chance to make the Chase. the GT class for this weekend’s Watkins Glen is an important Watkins Glen 200. race for us, and we need all the Three NASCAR regulars will seat time we can get.” make their sports car racing Meanwhile, Joey Logano, who debuts, while Andy Lally returns drives for Joe Gibbs in the Sprint to the series and Patrick Cup Series, will be teaming up Dempsey might just be the with Watkins Glen International most sought-after autograph of favorite Boris Said in the No. 31 the weekend. Corvette for the race. Lally, who Roush Fenway Racing stabelmates Ricky Stenhouse Jr., leads the Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year standings, will return to who leads the Nationwide his roots, driving one of The Series standings, and David Racers Group’s Porsches. Ragan, winner of the July Dempsey, an actor and series Daytona race, will share a Ford Mustang GT in Saturday’s 200- regular since 2008, will be codriving his Mazda RX-8 with Joe mile race. Neither has made a Foster. Dempsey has never start in sports cars before. “This is cool to be able to do raced on the 2.45-mile short this,” Ragan said. “Watkins Glen course at The Glen. THE LEADER STAFF

in the face of what could easily something to scare you away and make you fold when you look at the budgets of what these big teams are. A little bit of heart, a lot of hard work and

getting some good personnel in here goes a long way. We've been consistently chipping away at the big guys, just trying to get a foothold on this monstrous mountain.”


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Montoya ran away with a win at The Glen last year, but that doesn’t mean anything in 2011 BY CHRIS GILL

around – we had a really good car, we ran smart all day, took our time and did what we had Juan Pablo Montoya prefers to to do. This year, you never live in the moment. know,” Montoya said. “The race He enjoys past accomplish- might go your way or it might ments, but doesn’t dwell on not. The way I always look at it them. He looks ahead, but does- is: that’s a great opportunity to n ’t glean any expectations. score big points and you have to That’s why he’s approaching his take advantage of it.” title defense of this weekend’s In the 2010 Glen race, Heluva Good Sour Cream Dips Montoya started third, found at The Glen with a wait-and-see the lead on the sixth lap and attitude, despite last year’s dom- enjoyed a comfortable margin inant performance at Watkins until Marcos Ambrose sliced his Glen International. way into second place. That set “Sometimes you go (to a track) up one of the classic duels at with the same The Glen, with setup and you Montoya and go, ‘Ooh. We A m b r o s e won with that changing the last year and lead and stalknow we suck.’ ing each other It’s whoever through two can do a good thirds of the job through 90-lap race. the weekend,” In his youth, Montoya said. M o n t o y a That might earned a repube more true tation as a this year since hard-charging the NASCAR driver who THE LEADER STAFF Sprint Cup took no prisonSeries cars have Juan Pablo Montoya has two ers in CART a new nose NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Formula c o n f i g u r a t i o n victories in his career. One. That doesand different n’t work so well Goodyear tire construction. in the heavy stock cars. In his Montoya could use, if not a fourth Cup start at The Glen, repeat performance, than at Montoya proved more cerebral least a strong run with five races than madman. He let Ambrose left until the Chase for the do the charging and waited. Championship kicks in. “That car was good, but the Through the first 21 races, he’s big thing last year was: we started on the front row four c o u l d n ’t run hard early on times with two pole positions, with the brakes. If you remembut staying up front has proved ber the race, (Marcos) Ambrose difficult. He had two top-five seemed to be faster than me,” finishes in the first six races of Montoya said. “We went the season, but only two top-10s through the corners at the have followed. That prompted a same pace, but I was really crew chief change in July, with looking after the brakes, and it Jim Pohlman taking over for paid off because he ran out of Brian Pattie at Indianapolis. brakes. Who ever had better “For me, it was just a really brakes at the end was going good weekend all the way Story Continued on Page 13 cmgill@the-leader.com


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Page 13 to win, and we ran really smart all day. At the end we had the pace lap after lap after lap and that what needed to get done to get the win.” That victory was his second in the Sprint Cup Series, where he’s been a regular since 2007. The well-traveled Colombian started his pro career in the U.S., driving at The Glen under Peter Argetsinger’s tutelage in the 1990s, before replacing Alex Zanardi in Chip Ganassi’s CART powerhouse team. He immediately wowed fans, won the 2000 Indianapolis 500, with ease, before heading to Formula One where his fame hit international proportions. He drove for Sir Frank Williams and the mighty McLaren for five-and-a-half seasons, winning seven times – including the famed Monaco Grand Prix. After a less-thangraceful exit at McLaren, Ganassi was quick to recruit Montoya for his NASCAR operation. Since that time, Montoya’s won two Cup races, one Nationwide Series race and finished a career-high eighth in the 2009 Sprint Cup standings. NASCAR’s proven more difficult than any of Montoya’s previous stops, but he’s never enjoyed anything as much either. “Fans don’t know how well they have it here. The problem is when you’re used too something and you think it’s OK, you don’t know how good it is until you see the other side,” Montoya said. “Access to the garage, fans can come into the race track before the start of the races – I mean, you don’t get that anywhere. You get to a Formula One race and you’re lucky to get a grandstand ticket. You see 50-lap races and see them pass (by) in five seconds, ‘vroom’ and they’re gone, and you’ve got to wait one-and-ahalf minutes. That’s it. And there’s not enough cars. A NASCAR race gets 43 cars, so the field is spread so long that even in road racing, the fans are always seeing something, which I think is very good.” And for only the second time in his stock car career, Montoya is a defending race champ. Sitting 20th in the driver standings, he’d like to think another

“For me, I go to places and sometimes I don’t even ask because you expect the tire to be different.” Juan Pablo Montoya win at The Glen is within his grasp, even with a new crew chief, new nose and new tires. He won’t think about that until practice starts Friday. “For me, I don’t even pay attention to that. For (the press), you really focus on the race at The Glen, and I think it’s really good because it’s an interesting race,” he said. “For me, I go to places and sometimes I don’t even ask because you expect the tire to be different.”

All-Time Sprint Cup Winners at The Glen 1957—Buck Baker, Chevrolet, Grand National 1964—Billy Wade, Merc u ry, Grand National 1965—Marvin Panch, Ford, Grand National 1986—Tim Richmond, Chevrolet, Winston Cup 1987—Rusty Wallace, Pontiac, Winston Cup 1988—Ricky Rudd, Buick, Winston Cup 1989—Rusty Wallace, Pontiac, Winston Cup 1990—Ricky Rudd, Chevrolet, Winston Cup 1991—Ernie Irvan, Chevrolet, Winston Cup 1992—Kyle Petty, Pontiac,

Winston Cup 1993—Mark Martin, Ford, Winston Cup 1994—Mark Martin, Ford, Winston Cup 1995—Mark Martin, Ford, Winston Cup 1996—Geoff Bodine, Ford, Winston Cup 1997—Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, Winston Cup 1998—Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, Winston Cup 1999—Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, Winston Cup 2000—Steve Park, Cherolet, Winston Cup 2001—Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, Winston Cup

2002—Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, Winston Cup 2003—Robby Gordon, Chevrolet, Winston Cup 2004—Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, Nextel Cup 2005—Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, Nextel Cup 2006—Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, Nextel Cup 2007—Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, Nextel Cup 2008—Kyle Busch, Toyota, Sprint Cup 2009—Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, Sprint Cup 2010—Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, Sprint Cup


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Watkins Glen a welcome sight for Taylor team BY CHRIS GILL cmgill@the-leader.com

When Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor left Watkins Glen International in June, the Wayne Taylor Racing team appeared indomitable. The duo had just won back-to-back races from pole position with no signs of slowing down. And they haven’t, in qualifying. Since Memorial Day weekend, the No. 10 Sun Trust Chevrolet-powered Dallara has been on pole – a streak of five races. They’ve finished no worse than third since then, but haven’t been able to make big

gains on Rolex Series leaders Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. What they need is another perfect weekend, like the one enjoyed in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. “There has been nothing else even close to that in my entire career, so far. That was by far the best day I ever had,” said Ricky Taylor, in his third full season of Grand-Am racing. “I think we just had the dominant car. It’s hard to pick out just one moment that made it so special because the weekend was perfect from start to finish.” The pair led 128 of 174 laps around The Glen’s 3.4-mile

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Ricky Taylor leads Scott Pruett during June’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. grand prix circuit in June without so much as a hiccup, and that was even after Taylor and Angelelli switched roles – Taylor taking over as the closer. In the final half hour of the race, Taylor even left Pruett, the series’ all-time wins leader, in the dust. “Our win in the six-hour race was simply magnificent in every way,” Angelelli said. “Just look at all the races this year – it takes that kind of a weekend to become the winner. We did it at

Watkins Glen in June, and we did it at Lime Rock.” For Saturday’s Watkins Glen 200, the team won’t be able to employ notes from the six-hour enduro because the race will be held on the super-quick 2.45mile short course during NASCAR weekend. Aside from driving one fewer mile every lap, the Daytona Prototypes will have to contend with different tire compounds on the course and lapped traffic – a lot of it. Slower GT cars and

prototypes will become moving chicanes at 130 mph. That also means a new way of setting up the Dallara. “On the long course, you go one way with your set-up. You d o n ’t have to weigh many options,” Angelelli said. “On the short course, you have different options, and they all point toward low downforce. The big question is, ‘How low you can go? How low do you want to go?’” Taking downforce off the car will be a huge asset on the straightaways, but once in a corner with traffic, the car will be a handful. “As far as this race goes this year, there are over 20 GT cars entered, and I think that’s going to play a big role because from (Turn 5) to the backstraight, it’s going to be difficult to pass GT cars,” Taylor said. “That should make the race a lot more interesting for the fans, for every b o d y.” Thrown into the GT cars will be at least three true rookies. NASCAR Nationwide series leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will co-drive a Mustang with Coke 400 winner David Ragan, so that’s one car with two racers making their sports car debuts. Joe Gibbs Racing’s 21-year-old driver Joey Logano will make his first Rolex Series start with veteran Boris Said. All that means starting up front will be paramount – something the team’s proven pretty good at lately. However, trailing Pruett and Rojas by 29 points, they need to make some headway with just three races left in the season. “Obviously, we want to win it. When I look back on the last five races, we have five poles, two wins, a second and two thirds,” said team owner, and Ricky Taylor’s accomplished father Wayne Taylor. “So, if you went back five races with any team, we’ve achieved the most in the last five races. I’m just excited to get back to Watkins Glen, and it’ll be great to be back with NASCAR and have all those guys around.”


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The Chasers and the hopefuls NASCAR added another new wrinkle to the Chase for the Championship – wild card spots. The top 10 drivers get automatic berths into the playoffs, while the last two positions will be filled by race winners inside the top 20. Entering Sunday’s Heluva Good Sour Cream Dips at The Glen, Brad Keselowski occupies one spot with two victories, while Denny Hamlin, Paul Menard and David Ragan (one win each) are battling for the last spot. Below is a list of the championship leaders, how they’ve fared at The Glen and what their position in the standings are. CARL EDWARDS Age/hometown: 31, Columbia, Mo. Car/team: No. 99 Aflac/Subway Ford, Roush Fenway Racing 2010 finish: 5th Best finish: 3rd (2009) Best start: 1st (2010) Avg. finish: 8.2 in 6 starts Top 5s: 3, Top 10s: 5 Best finish this season: 1st (Las Vegas) Points position: 1st, 9 points ahead Outlook: Odd calling Edwards a sleeper pick anywhere, but watch out for him this weekend.

KYLE BUSCH Age/hometown: 26, Las Vegas Car/team: No. 18 M&Ms Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing 2010 finish: 8th Best finish: 1st (2008) Best start: 1st (2008) Avg. finish: 10.3 in 6 starts Top 5s: 2, Top 10s: 5 Best finish this season: 1st (Bristol, Richmond, Kentucky) Points position: 3rd, 11 points behind Outlook: Busch has only failed to finish in the top 10 once here, so if you want points he’s a great pick for your office pool.

KEVIN HARVICK Age/hometown: 35, Bakersfield, Calif. Car/team: No. 29 Budweiser Chevy, Richard Childress Racing 2010 finish: 11th Best finish: 1st (2006) Best start: 6th (2002) Avg. finish: 13.6 in 10 starts Top 5s: 2, Top 10s: 5 Best finish this season: 1st (Fontana, Martinsville, Charlotte) Points position: 5th, 20 points behind Outlook: If this team rediscovers the touch from 2006, look out.

JIMMIE JOHNSON Age/hometown: 35, El Cajon, Calif. Car/team: No. 48 Lowe’s Chevy, Hendrick Motorsports 2010 finish: 28th Best finish: 3rd (2007) Best start: 1st (2004) Avg. finish: 14.7 in 9 starts Top 5s: 3, Top 10s: 4 Best finish this season: 1st (Talladega) Points position: 2nd, 9 points behind Outlook: Five-Time shouldn’t be terribly concerned about this race.

KURT BUSCH Age/hometown: 33, Las Vegas Car/team: No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge, Penske Racing 2010 finish: 2nd Best finish: 2nd (2010) Best start: 1st (2006) Avg. finish: 18.0 in 10 starts Top 5s: 1, Top 10s: 4 Best finish this season: 1st (Infineon) Points position: 4th, 14 points behind Outlook: One of the favorites this weekend, going for a road racing sweep.

MATT KENSETH Age/hometown: 39, Cambridge, Wisc. Car/team: No. 17 Crown Royal Ford, Roush Fenway Racing 2010 finish: 13th Best finish: 8th (2003) Best start: 3rd (2007) Avg. finish: 15.7 in 11 starts Top 5s: 0, Top 10s: 3 Best finish this season: 1st (Texas, Dover) Points position: 6th, 26 points behind Outlook: He never dazzles here, but never screws up either.

JEFF GORDON Age/hometown: 40, Vallejo, Calif. Car/team: No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevy, Hendrick Motorsports 2010 finish: 10th Best finish: 1st (1997-99, 2001) Best start: 1st (1998, 2003, 2007) Avg. finish: 14.6 in 18 starts Top 5s: 6, Top 10s: 9 Best finish this season: 1st (Phoenix, Pocono 1) Points position: 7th, 52 points behind Outlook: Possibly in the best position to win a fifth race here than he’s been in three seasons. RYAN NEWMAN Age/hometown: 32, South Bend, Ind. Car/team: No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet, Stewart Haas Racing 2010 finish: 12th Best finish: 2nd (2002) Best start: 3rd (2006) Avg. finish: 16.3 in 9 starts Top 5s: 1, Top 10s: 3 Best finish this season: 1st (New Hampshire) Points position: 8th, 62 points behind

Outlook: After rookie performance at The Glen, really thought he’d won a couple of these road races by now. TONY STEWART Age/hometown: 40, Columbus, Ind. Car/team: No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet, Stewart Haas Racing 2010 finish: 7th Best finish: 1st (2002, 2004-05, 2007, 2009) Best start: 1st (2005) Avg. finish: 5.4 in 12 starts Top 5s: 7, Top 10s: 10 Best finish this season: 2nd (Las Vegas, New Hampshire) Points position: 9th, 78 points behind Outlook: Stewart’s margin for error is pretty thin where he’s at in the points. A sixth win here would sure help. DALE EARNHARDT JR. Age/hometown: 36, Kannapolis, N.C. Car/team: No. 88 Amp Energy/National Guard, Hendrick Motorsports 2010 finish: 26th Best finish: 3rd (2003) Best start: 2nd (2008)


Page 17 Avg. finish: 22.9 in 11 starts Top 5s: 2, Top 10s: 3 Best finish this season: 2nd (Martinsville, Kansas) Points position: 10th, 79 points behind, 23 points ahead of Chase cutoff Outlook: Earnhardt’s an enigma here – either really good or really bad. Which is going to be this weekend? DENNY HAMLIN Age/hometown: 30, Chesterfield, Va. Car/team: No. 11 FedEx Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing 2010 finish: 37th (crash) Best finish: 2nd (2007) Best start: 2nd (2007) Avg. finish: 13.4 in 5 starts Top 5s: 1, Top 10s: 4 Best finish this season: 1st (Michigan) Points position: 11th, 23 points out of Chase spot Outlook: He’s got one win in his favor and given his track record here, should get out of town in good shape. CLINT BOYWER Age/hometown: 32, Emporia, Kan. Car/team: No. 33 General Mills Chevy, Richiard Childress Racing 2010 finish: 32nd Best finish: 9th (2009) Best start: 11th (2007) Avg. finish: 18.8 in 5 starts Top 5s: 0, Top 10s: 1 Best finish this season: 2nd (Texas, Talladega) Points position: 12th, 41 points out of Chase spot Outlook: Bowyer needs to win. Like, now. Unfortunately, The Glen has been utterly poisonous to him. GREG BIFFLE Age/hometown: 41, Vancouver, Wash. Car/team: No. 16 3M Ford, Roush Fenway Racing 2010 finish: 24th Best finish: 5th (2009) Best start: 2nd (2003) Avg. finish: 25.1 in 8 starts Top 5s: 1, Top 10s: 2 Best finish this season: 4th (Texas) Points position: 13th, 44 points out of Chase spot

Outlook: The Biff needs to pick it up in these last five races. PAUL MENARD Age/hometown: 30, Eau Claire, Wisc. Car/team: No. 27 Menards Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing 2010 finish: 16th Best finish: 16th (2010) Best start: 14th (2009) Avg. finish: 23.9 in 7 starts Top 5s: 0, Top 10s: 0 Best finish this season: 1st (Indianapolis) Points position: 14th, 54 points out of Chase spot Outlook: His win couldn’t have come at a better time. MARK MARTIN Age/hometown: 52, Batesville, Ark. Car/team: No. 5 Go Daddy Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports 2010 finish: 19th Best finish: 1st (1993-95) Best start: 1st (1993-95) Avg. finish: 8.3 in 21 starts Top 5s: 12, Top 10s: 16 Best finish this season: 2nd (Dover) Points position: 15th, 74 points out of Chase spot Outlook: Owned Watkins Glen like no one else in history. He needs to

summon that old magic. KASEY KAHNE Age/hometown: 31, Enumclaw, Wash. Car/team: No. 84 Red Bull Toyota, Red Bull Racing 2010 finish: 17th Best finish: 14th (2004, 2008) Best start: 2nd (2006) Avg. finish: 18.1 in 7 starts Top 5s: 0, Top 10s: 0 Best finish this season: 3rd (Richmond) Points position: 16th, 74 points out of Chase spot Outlook: Wait ’til next year. A.J. ALLMENDINGER Age/hometown: 28, Los Gatos, Calif. Car/team: No. 43 Best Buy Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports 2010 finish: 4th Best finish: 4th (2010) Best start: 4th (2010) Avg. finish: 9.3 in 3 starts Top 5s: 1, Top 10s: 2 Best finish this season: 5th (Charlotte) Points position: 17th, 79 points out of Chase spot Outlook: Should have been a threat to win some of these road races by now. BRAD KESELOWSKI

Age/hometown: 27, Rochester Hills, Mich. Car/team: No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, Penske Racing 2010 finish: 32nd Best finish: 32nd (2010) Best start: 43rd (2010) Avg. finish: 32.0 in 1 start Top 5s: 0, Top 10s: 0 Best finish this season: 1st (Kansas, Pocono 2) Points position: 18th, 83 points out of Chase spot Outlook: His gutsy win at Pocono put a heap of pressure on all the other Chase hopefuls. Now he’s got to get around The Glen with a broken ankle. DAVID RAGAN Age/hometown: 25, Unadilla, Ga. Car/team: No. 6 UPS Ford, Roush Fenway Racing 2010 finish: 25th Best finish: 24th (2009) Best start: 14th (2008) Avg. finish: 27.8 in 4 starts Top 5s: 0, Top 10s: 0 Best finish this season: 1st (Daytona 2) Points position: 19th, 85 points out of Chase spot Outlook: Thanks to Keselowski, Ragan’s clutch win at Daytona won’t mean anything if he can’t


Page 18 Coverage all weekend long at

www.the-leader.com

overtake some people in the points. Not likely to happen this weekend. JOEY LOGANO Age/hometown: 21, Middletown, Conn. Car/team: No. 20 Home Depot Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing 2010 finish: 33rd Best finish: 16th (2009) Best start: 18th (2010) Avg. finish: 24.5 in 2 starts Top 5s: 0, Top 10s: 0 Best finish this season: 3rd (Charlotte, Daytona 2) Points position: 20th, 93 points out of Chase spot Outlook: P e rformance has picked up lately, but maybe too little too late. JUAN PABLO MONTOYA Age/hometown: 35, Bogota, Colombia Car/team: No. 42 Target Chevrolet, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing 2010 finish: 1st Best finish: 1st (2010) Best start: 3rd (2010) Avg. finish: 12.5 in 4 starts Top 5s: 2, Top 10s: 2 Best finish this season: 3rd (Las Vegas) Points position: 21st, 102 points out of Chase spot Outlook: JPM needs to repeat at The Glen, and get a lot of help. MARTIN TRUEX JR. Age/hometown: 31, Mayetta, N.J. Car/team: No. 55 NAPA Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing 2010 finish: 15th Best finish: 5th (2008) Best start: 12th (2007) Avg. finish: 16.4 in 5 starts Top 5s: 1, Top 10s: 2 Best finish this season: 6th (Las Vegas) Points position: 22nd, 104 points out of Chase spot Outlook: The Glen’s been ... OK to him over the years. Not great, just OK.

Best start: 4th (2009) Avg. finish: 2.7 in 3 starts Top 5s: 3, Top 10s: 3 Best finish this season: 3rd (Dover) Points position: 23rd, 112 points out of Chase spot Outlook: How hasn’t he won two or three of these races by now? JEFF BURTON Age/hometown: 44, South Boston, Va. Car/team: No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy, Richard Childress Racing 2010 finish: 9th Best finish: 2nd (2001) Best start: 4th (1998, 2000, 2007) Avg. finish: 21.3 in 17 starts Top 5s: 2, Top 10s: 4 Best finish this season: 11th (Texas, Dover) Points position: 24th, 160 points out of Chase spot Outlook: What the heck is Burton doing all the way down here? Did he forfeit some races? DAVID REUTIMANN Age/hometown: 41, Zephyrhills, Fla. Car/team: No. 00 Aaron’s Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing 2010 finish: 23rd Best finish: 23rd (2010) Best start: 25th (2009) Avg. finish: 27.0 in 3 starts Top 5s: 0, Top 10s: 0 Best finish this season: 2nd (Kentucky) Points position: 25th, 165 points out of Chase spot Outlook: Don’t worry David, this is the last road race of the season.

REGAN SMITH Age/hometown: 27, Cato, N.Y. Car/team: No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing 2010 finish: 34th (suspension) Best finish: 34th Best start: 10th Avg. finish: 35.5 in 2 starts Top 5s: 0, Top 10s: 0 Best finish this season: 1st (Darlington) MARCOS AMBROSE Points position: 26th, 167 points Age/hometown: 34, Launceston, out of Chase spot Australia Outlook: The hometown fans Car/team: No. 9 Stanley Ford, desperately want to see this guy do Richard Petty Motorsports well here. 2010 finish: 3rd Best finish: 2nd (2009) JAMIE MCMURRAY


Page 19 Age/hometown: 35, Joplin, Mo. Car/team: No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing 2010 finish: 6th Best finish: 3rd (2006) Best start: 2nd (2010) Avg. finish: 18.4 in 8 starts Top 5s: 1, Top 10s: 2 Best finish this season: 4th (Indianapolis) Points position: 27th, 178 points out of Chase spot Outlook: Another one of this season’s “What happened?” stories. BRIAN VICKERS Age/hometown: 27, Thomasville, N.C. Car/team: No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, Red Bull Racing 2010 finish: Did not compete Best finish: 8th (2005) Best start: 17th (2008) Avg. finish: 20.7 in 6 starts Top 5s: 0, Top 10s: 1 Best finish this season: 5th (Dover) Points position: 28th, 192 points

out of Chase spot Outlook: Sometimes you forget he’s not even 30 yet. Still time to reach his potential. BOBBY LABONTE Age/hometown: 47, Corpus Christie, Texas Car/team: No. 47 Clorox/Kleenex Toyota, JTG-Daugherty Racing 2010 finish: 29th Best finish: 5th (1996, 2000) Best start: 1st (2000) Avg. finish: 19.4 in 18 starts Top 5s: 2, Top 10s: 6 Best finish this season: 4th (Daytona 1) Points position: 29th, 195 points out of Chase spot Outlook: Driving for a team that’s finished second and third here with three Nationwide Series wins. DAVID GILLILAND Age/hometown: 35, Riverside, Calif. Car/team: No. 34 Taco Bell Ford, Front Row Motorsports 2010 finish: 27th

Best finish: 27th (2010) Best start: 26th (2008) Avg. finish: 33.3 in 3 starts Top 5s: 0, Top 10s: 0 Best finish this season: 3rd (Daytona 1) Points position: 30th, 262 points out of Chase spot Outlook: Highlight of the weekend might just be the drive to the track. ANDY LALLY Age/hometown: 36, East Northport, N.Y. Car/team: No. 71 Interstate Moving Ford, TGR Motorsports 2010 finish: 18th Best finish: 18th (2010) Best start: 15th (2009) Avg. finish: 22.5 in 2 starts Top 5s: 0, Top 10s: 0 Best finish this season: 19th (Talladega) Points position: 33rd, 393 points out of Chase spot Outlook: Lally’s been looking

f o rward to this race like a kid at Christmas time. ROBBY GORDON Age/hometown: 42, Orange, Calif. Car/team: No. 7 Speed Dodge 2010 finish: 36th (engine) Best finish: 1st (2003) Best start: 4th (2001) Avg. finish: 13.3 in 12 starts Top 5s: 7, Top 10s: 7 Best finish this season: 16th (Daytona 1) Points position: 34th (partial schedule) Outlook: One of the most fun drivers to watch at The Glen. BORIS SAID Age/hometown: 48, Carlsbad, Calif. Car/team: No. 51 Security Benefit Chevrolet, Phoenix Racing 2010 finish: 38th (contact) Best finish: 3rd (2005) Best start: 2nd (1999) Avg. finish: 24.6 in 10 starts Top 5s: 1, Top 10s: 2 Best finish this season: 28th (Infineon)

Points position: 45th (partial schedule) Outlook: Would love to see him give his devoted followers something to cheer about. GEOFF BODINE Age/hometown: 61, Chemung, N.Y. Car/team: No. 35 Luke & Associates Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing 2010 finish: Did not compete Best finish: 1st (1996) Best start: 1st (1988) Avg. finish: 19.1 in 15 starts Top 5s: 3, Top 10s: 4 Best finish this season: 38th (Daytona 2) Points position: 47th (partial schedule) Outlook: A hometown Bodine is in the field for the first time in three


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Flag2Flag, August 11, 2011