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Five thoughts on NASCAR at Watkins Glen, the DeltaWing and more

August 12, 2013|By Jim Peltz
  • Kyle Busch celebrates his victory at Watkins Glen.
Kyle Busch celebrates his victory at Watkins Glen. (Tom Ryder / Associated Press )

Looking back at the weekend in auto racing, when Kyle Busch won a NASCAR thriller at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and the American Le Mans Series made some news in Wisconsin, five things come to mind:

1. Put a road course in NASCAR's Chase for the Cup. Sunday's race at Watkins Glen was frenetic and compelling down to the last turn. Again. The race jumbled the Chase standings. Again. So why not make a road course (Sonoma is the other option) one of the 10 races that decide NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series champion? It's unlikely many would miss having one less intermediate track on the Chase schedule.

2. Watkins Glen was just plain fun to watch. A striking image from Watkins Glen: Busch's in-car camera capturing the eventual race winner rapidly shifting up and down through the gears while jerking the steering wheel left and right. You know, like a real race-car driver. Here's another: When Jeff Gordon -- a four-time Watkins Glen winner -- can't make 20 laps without committing a mistake that puts him in the fence, that's going to be an engrossing race.

3. Let's stop discussing how some drivers are better at road courses than others. Sure, Marcos Ambrose, Juan Pablo Montoya, Brad Keselowski, Busch and Gordon are among the proven road racers. But look who else held their own and then some Sunday? Carl Edwards (4th), Clint Bowyer (6th), Joey Logano (7th) and Jamie McMurray (11th). And Bowyer qualified second. The days are gone when a road course was a crapshoot for drivers who otherwise are NASCAR's best.

4. The race to the Chase stays tight. Keselowski, seeking to repeat as Cup champion, vaulted four spots to eighth in the standings. Martin Truex Jr. (who won at Sonoma) jumped four spots, too, to 10th, while Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne (who also was wrecked Sunday) and Gordon each tumbled four spots, to 12th and 13th, respectively. With four races left until the Chase, only 29 points separate Greg Biffle in ninth from Logano in 16th. But Kahne (with two wins) and 14th-place Ryan Newman (with one win) still lead the wild-card standings.

5. The DeltaWing made history at Road America. The exotic DeltaWing prototype sports car that brings to mind the Batmobile led its first competitive laps in the Amerian Le Mans Series race at Elkhart Lake, Wis. And at the helm for some of those laps was a woman, Katherine Legge, one of the DeltaWing's co-drivers. The team finished fifth but left the lasting impression that radical innovation still can find its way into motor racing -- and give race fans something intriguing to watch.

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