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WBKR NASCAR Preview – Finger Lakes 355

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for NASCAR

My NASCAR-covering buddy, Blake Smith is here and has his analysis of this week’s NASCAR Cup Series race. With a tiny bit of help from the Moonster.

After an exciting and shortened Pennsylvania 400, Jeff Gordon found himself in victory lane for the first time in 2012. Gordon, who has had his share of bad luck and bad finishes this season finds himself  in the  second and final wild card position headed into this weekend’s race at Watkins Glen. Although there are still four races before the Chase for the Championship cut off, Gordon seems to be surging at the right time. Gordon, who has 9 road course victories, is Blake’s pick for victory lane on Sunday.

As mentioned last week, selected drivers and teams were at Martinsville on Tuesday and Wednesday to test drive the 2013 cars. Toyota brought their Camry, Ford brought their Fusion and Chevrolet brought their un-announced 2013 prototype for the two day test. One car manufacturer who did not attend was the Dodge group. Dodge SRT CEO, Ralph Gilles announced Dodge would not be returning to the Sprint Cup or Nationwide Series in 2013. Dodge made a return in 2001 after a 24 year hiatus from the sport.

Drivers and teams will be making their second and final road course stop of the season as the teams will compete in the Finger Lakes 355 at Watkins Glen International on Sunday. The entry list for the event was released on Monday showing 43 drivers entered for this weekend’s event. This means all cars entered will have a starting position and no drivers will be sent home due to a slow qualifying effort. The #23 car usually driven by Scott Riggs has elected not to compete in this weekend’s event. Patrick Long will make his NASCAR debut substituting for David Stremme in the #30 Inception Motorsports entry.

After getting his first win last year at the track, Marcus Ambrose fans will be looking for him to do it again. Carl Edwards, winless this season, loves the track and has run really well there. He says, “It is the course that suits my style”.

Most drivers and teams are electing to bring the same chassis they used back in June at Sonoma, including Sonoma winner Clint Bowyer. Series points leader, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and crew chief Steve Letarte have decided to bring a new chassis to this weekend’s event at Watkins Glen. Jimmie Johnson is bringing the same chassis he has raced at every road course since 2009.

NASCAR has scheduled two practice sessions for tomorrow in preparation for the weekend’s events. With a 60 percent chance of rain Friday, drivers and teams will have to decide whether they want to focus on race set up, qualifying setup or a balance of both. Qualifying for the race is scheduled for Saturday.

Our thoughts and prayers here at WBKR go out to those injured and killed following a severe lightning storm at the shortened conclusion of last week’s Pocono Race. Pocono has established a memorial fund to benefit the victims. NASCAR is currently reviewing their weather policy to prevent any future incidents.

Tune into Sunday’s coverage of the Finger Lakes 355 beginning at 11 AM on WBKR and WBKR.com!

– Blake Smith

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