There were those who put on the fire suits, got to be among the big boys, but when it came time to go they might have been best suited to go down the road instead of the track. Instead of being competitors, they were lucky to be participants, saddled in entries that had no hope of being anywhere near the front.
As the NASCAR community mourned the death of sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr., which led to Tony Stewart’s decision not to participate at Watkins Glen, the racing did go on at one of the sport’s more challenging road courses.
Aric Almirola was not favored to return the iconic 43 that Richard Petty won his 200th win the Independence Day weekend thirty years ago, but he did. The rains that delayed the action for a day, and delayed it again early on Sunday, returned to finally put a wash to the proceedings prior to the three-quarter mark. The man in front was the 30-year old Tampa, Florida native, recording his first Cup victory in 125 starts.
This Saturday we are off to Kentucky, a day early and an entry short. Well, early if you think of Sunday as the usual race day, and short as we will have 42 entries instead of the usual 43. Michael McDowell, who was 24th at Sonoma last Sunday, won’t be joining us.
The final stop on the Sprint Media Tour presented by Charlotte Motor Speedway was a double stop with JTG Daugherty Racing and Leavine Family Racing. These two smaller teams are trying to make inroads in the Sprint Cup Series and have high hopes for 2014.
This grading system is pretty basic. Top 10’s, with extra consideration given for wins and Top 5’s, can help you earn an A+. Keep it in the Top 20 each race and that is worth a B. Just by finishing 30th each time out and that would still get you a C-. Less than that is a failure; a failure to compete, a failure to get noticed.
Marcos Ambrose has won the last two Sprint Cup races at Watkins Glen and he will start his run at a third consecutive victory from the pole with Michael Waltrip Racing's Clint Bowyer 2nd. Marcos seems untouchable at this track and a pole to kick off his pursuit for his third win in as many years at this historic race track is very bad news for the competition.