The NASCAR Cup Series took to the Watkins Glen road course today with a little water on the ground. Those wet conditions are tricky. With sets of rain tires and dry slicks, the teams were prepared to face what came their way. However, even with tires and rain flaps and lights, the wet track caused issues for many drivers within the first few laps.
Before we could even get through lap two, AJ Allmendinger was spun out after Austin Cindric locked up his brakes and slammed into the No. 16. He wasn’t the only early victim. Just as we thought the drivers were getting the hang of things, drying the track off a bit, even more issues arose.
Kyle Larson was running in the top-5 early in the race. Then, just as the lead pack came up to the “bus stop” turn, he missed it. Straight through. The No.5 driver stopped in order to keep himself from facing a harsh penalty. The sun started to come out and helped to dry the track off a bit, but there were issues that the rain had already caused.
Ryan Blaney, who would like to secure his postseason destiny with a win, couldn’t tell how much fuel he had due to water damage to the electronics. So, with that in mind, he’ll have to feel his way around. If he runs out of fuel it could be big a problem.
Chase Briscoe Wins Stage 1 at Watkins Glen
With two sets of tires, both rain and slicks, the Cup Series teams at Watkins Glen have a chance to gain a real advantage. After a dozen laps or so, most of the teams that were in the lead decided to pit for slick tires. The track had derived off, and the grip was needed. Those rain tires are more like street tires you’d see on the highway.
Early on, despite the chaos, Michael McDowell has been racing out of his mind. With just one top-5 finish ever at a road course, his early driving was solid. While a lot of race is left to run, keep an eye on McDowell. Switching off these tires at just the right time is a big advantage. And Chase Briscoe beat him to it.
So, will we see a new winner? McDowell could grab a checkered flag and really cause some chaos in the postseason standings. He’s going to have to fight off Briscoe, the Stage 1 winner, to do it.
Let’s see what kind of trouble these drivers get into. Watkins Glen is fast, the track is wet, and these drivers are getting desperate. A recipe for exciting racing.