One of the premier road racing events of the year will be held at Watkins Glen this Sunday.
We refer, of course, to the NASCAR Nextel Cup race.
Watkins Glen was for many years the home of the United States Grand Prix. It is a racecourse steeped in legend. Mario Andretti drove his first Formula One race at Watkins Glen, a course he’d never driven before. He won the pole.
But now the United States Grand Prix is non-existant and Watkins Glen is home to one of the two road races in the Nextel Cup season.
With the possible exception of Bristol (which is unique unto itself) and Daytona (which is simply to big to argue with), the road races at Sonoma and Watkins Glen are the best races NASCAR has to offer.
And they are the best road races in America.
Unlike the parades in open-wheel racing, the NASCAR stars actually pass one another. They brake deep into the turn, and run wide and off the course if they miscalculate. They fight back to get into contention. Skill and balance, and very fine footwork, pay at the Glen.
And this year, there’s something truly special.
Qualifying was rained out on Friday.
That means the cars will start in the order of owner’s points, which gives Jeff Gordon the pole. Gordon is exceptional at this course. It also means that some of the other drivers, such as Boris Said, who have road course experience, will not be racing because their cars didn’t have enough owners’ points to qualify.
And it means that the entire field will be decided on the basis of something other than road course ability.
So, they’ll all have to race for it.
It’ll be a show.
1:00 Eastern Time on ESPN.