Found August 11, 2012 on Race Review Online:


Bowyer Infineon victoryNASCAR's finest will turn right for the second and final time this year with one of the shortest races of the season this weekend at Watkins Glen.
Par for the course...roadcourse, that is...Watkins Glen usually features fuel mileage shenanigans, pit stop cunning and strategy, and funky cycles that often sees the leaderboard being turned upside down every half hour or so.  With that said, here are the fellows most likely to survive the circus and claim a prize.
Row 1
Pole position: Marcos Ambrose
Ambrose still has yet to find that elusive oval-track consistency, nevermind win, but he's always a lock for road course win contention.  Winner of this race one year ago, Ambrose is almost guaranteed to be seen in the top-five for most of the day.
Outside pole: Jeff Gordon
Hard luck coal of past months seems to have been turned into diamond dust for a run to the Chase.  Nothing is set in stone yet, but ol' Four Time and cranial crew chief Alan Gustafson are finally finding the results to match their performance mojo.  Look for a return to former Watkins Glen form for Gordon this weekend as he continues his run to a Chase berth.
Row 2
Position 3: Tony Stewart
In 13 starts at The Glen, Smoke has 10 top-10's and...five wins.  With a winning percentage approaching 50%, I won't say much more.  And oh, he already has three wins on the year. Shutting up now.
Position 4: Jimmie Johnson
Slotting Johnson a bit lower--say, in the 6th-10th range--is tempting.  Of all tracks on the circuit, Watkins Glen is arguably his weakest, and serious contention at the track is often elusive for Five-Time.  However, he showed two years ago at Sonoma that a road course win can certainly be in the team #48 cards, and it's hard to rank JJ any lower than 4th these days.  Ergo, 4th it is. 
Row 3
Position 5: Kurt Busch
KuBusch almost took his undermanned team to a glorious W at Sonoma in June, with a mechanical issue relegating his result to a still-noble third place finish.  Road courses often showcase drivers with raw skill and driving chops, and the elder Busch is just such a man.  Look for top-five contention from the humble, yet admirable, team #51.
Position 6: Brad Keselowski
Keselowski was the odd American out last year at The Glen, battling with panache between the likes of Tasmanian Marcos Ambrose and Colombian Juan Montoya.  Unlike Sonoma, which features slow corners and demands controlled finesse, Watkins Glen is a road course that caters more to Keselowski's penchants for aggressive speed and cornering intensity.  Look for a repeat of last year's valiant performance.
Row 4
Position 7: Clint Bowyer
Like several on this list, this ranking for this driver is a calculated risk based on past performance.  This time, this ranking is based on Bowyer's recent sublime performance and victory at the tour's last road course (Sonoma in June). 
Position 8: Juan Montoya
Like Johnson and Bowyer above, ranking Montoya this high is a risky notion.  Montoya has won this race before (2010), and he almost nabbed the trophy again last year.  However, Earnhardt-Ganassi woes continue to plague its teams this year, Montoya included.  It might be a gift, but nevertheless, look for potential top-five contention from the fiery Colombian.
Row 5
Position 9: Kasey Kahne
Kahne isn't necessarily known for road course glory, but he did put a large feather in his, er, helmet when he took the Sonoma win in 2008 over road racing great Tony Stewart.  He can win on a road course, and he's hard-pressed to run outside of the top-10 this year, so look for solid speed from Kahne all weekend long.
Position 10: Kevin Harvick
Happy Harvick already owns a Glen trophy for his mantlepiece, having conquered the joint, and Tony Stewart along with it, in 2006.  Harvick is a man with quiet yet savvy skill and raw racing ability, and he often puts on a good show at road courses.  Keep a top-10 eye on Happy.
Row 6
Position 11: Martin Truex Jr.
Truex Jr. is often a man to beat at the other road course on the circuit (Sonoma), and he's also riding a small wave of renewed strength over the last month of racing.  It would be hard to imagine the man not contending somewhere around the top-10 this week, so along with teammates Clint Bowyer and part-timer Brian Vickers, keep your other eye on team #56.
Position 12: Joey Logano
To complete the risky rankings this week, Joey Logano brings up the vanguard with a 12th-place slotting.  He owns three straight top-10's over the last three road course races, dating back to the Sonoma race of 2011.  Such fact is a testimony to Joey's raw, if as yet unrealized, driving skills and potential, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him keep the top-10 streak alive this week.
Lucky Dogs: Ryan Newman and Kyle Busch



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