WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Friday afternoon (Aug. 12) was nothing but practice for the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series at Watkins Glen. Sprint Cup teams had just over three hours of practice, split into two sessions while the Nationwide Series had one two-hour session.
In the first Sprint Cup session, Kyle Busch led the way with a lap of 70.242 seconds, or 125.566 mph. This lap is a half a second faster than the track record, held by Jeff Gordon. This lap was just five thousandths of a second faster than Juan Pablo Montoya and less than two hundredths of a second faster than AJ Allmendinger in third.
Unfortunately, the session was plagued by a series of spins. Tony Stewart, a five-time winner at Watkins Glen, spun out twice on his own. The first incident saw Stewart spin off the road in the Inner Loop. The second saw Stewart enter turn 9 too fast, get out of the groove and spin. Stewart’s Office Depot Chevrolet came to rest in the middle of the track, undamaged.
Also, early on in the session, Casey Mears lost an engine in his GEICO Toyota. Mears’s No. 13 laid down a significant amount of fluid on track along with a large plume of smoke before coming to rest right before the entrance of turn 1. With the engine change, Mears will have to start from the rear of the field on Sunday.
In the second practice session, the teams couldn’t even get up to speed before the first incident of the session. Robby Gordon locked up his brakes in turn 9 on his out lap. As a result, Matt Kenseth had nowhere to go and ran into the back of Robby Gordon’s No. 7 before spinning and kicking up some dirt onto the track. David Ragan also spun in the Inner Loop later in the session, but continued without incident.
Finally, towards the end of the session, Brian Simo spun exiting turn 1 and hit the Armco barrier. Simo’s No. 46, sporting new sponsorship from Fisher Nuts, suffered left-rear damage in the crash. The team is attempting to repair the damage.
Marcos Ambrose had the car to beat in the session, laying down a lap of 69.666 seconds (126.604 mph), a full second faster than the official track record. Ambrose’s lap led points leader Carl Edwardsto describe Ambrose as “screaming fast” in a press conference. Ambrose’s lap was four and a half tenths of a second faster than Kurt Busch in second. Carl Edwards turned the third fastest lap, followed by Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr.
Of those who must qualify on speed, Scott Speed was fastest (14th overall), while Robby Gordon was 18th overall and JJ Yeley was 22nd.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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