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Editorial

Get a Grip: Watkins Glen Edition

The spectacle road course racing has turned into produced another unpredictable and wild race weekend at Watkins Glen International.

From the green to checkered flags, the thrills never let up and created plenty of storylines. Whether it was problems plaguing the favorites or a blindsiding turn of events, the action didn’t disappoint. This created plenty of moments and the best and worst are featured on this week’s list.

Four Tires

  • It was a historic weekend for @JoeyLogano as he became the first driver to sweep the weekend in Watkins Glen. In the Zippo 200, the No. 12 Snap-on Ford team had one of the best cars in the field and overcame a penalty for removing equipment from the pit box to capture the victory. The No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford wasn’t as dominant on Sunday. However, strategy allowed the Daytona 500 winner to challenge for the lead late. Luck fell his way in the final corner when @KevinHarvick’s fuel tank ran dry, and the team scored their second win of the season.
  • Despite no longer being on a winning streak, @KyleBusch continues to impress. In Pocono, he was in position to win for the fifth time in 2015 before running out of fuel. This past weekend, the Indianapolis winner had one of the best cars in the field. While he could have challenged for the win, he played it smart and conserved fuel in order to score the best finish possible. This strategy paid off as he came home in second-place, and cracked the top-30 in the points standings. This now allows the No. 18 Crispy M&M’s Toyota team to compete for the championship if they maintain position. Having made it to this point in such dominating fashion over a short period of time, they should be considered an early favorite for the title.

Two Tires

  • Boris Said continues to demonstrate his superb road racing skills each time he climbs behind the wheel. The 52-year old drove the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota to a fourth-place finish on Saturday. This marks his best finish in the sport since taking the checkered flag in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race in Montreal in 2010. With two additional road course events this month, expect this run to provide momentum as he chases his second career series win.
  • A fast car throughout the weekend led @SamHornish to a ninth-place finish on Sunday. This was the Richard Petty Motorsports driver’s best non-restrictor plate result of the season. He placed inside the top-10 in Sonoma as well, showcasing his road racing talent. While it looks unlikely the 36-year old will make the Chase for the Sprint Cup this season, expect him to challenge for the win on the road courses next season and contend for a spot in the playoffs.

No Tires

  • Expectations were high for @JeffGordonWeb and @TonyStewart going into the Cheez-It 355. Combined, they have scored nine victories at the course. This had many expecting great runs from the veterans as both need a win to make the Chase. However, problems for each quickly took them out of contention. Gordon ended up 41st and Stewart 43rd. Struggling at a track both have found success at in the past shows the teams are in need of improvement if they hope to be among the Challenger 16.
  • @AJDinger had high hopes for Sunday. The defending race winner knew this would be his best opportunity to score a win and place himself in the Chase for the second consecutive season. After starting on the pole and looking strong early, electrical problems followed by a strategy that forced the team down pit road late put them deep in the field. The 33-year old finished 24th, a career worse at the course. While his playoff hopes remain alive, it will be a tough feat for the team to pull off in the next month.

Another weekend of twists and turns is ahead. While the NASCAR XFINITY Series is the only one heading to a road course as they tackle Mid-Ohio, a new rules package will make for an interesting Pure Michigan 400, and the trucks will once again put on a show. It will be a memorable weekend and the best and worst moments will be recapped on next week’s list.

Jason Schultz is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL JASON AT jason.schultz@popularspeed.com

By Jason Schultz

Jason Schultz aspires to enter the public relations field of NASCAR. Schultz, 19, attends UNC Charlotte and is a communication studies major with a focus in public relations. In addition to contributing to POPULAR SPEED, Schultz produces podcasts for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Dirty Mo Radio. He also completed a semester as a social media intern at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Each year, he volunteers as the social media correspondent for Autism Delaware's Drive for Autism golf tournament featuring NASCAR personalities and the AAA 400 Drive for Autism Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover.

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