Recent history at the Glen suggested that fans were in for a treat and the drivers didnít disappoint on Sunday. Marcos Ambrose and AJ Allmendinger, the two drivers who were putting all their eggs into the road-course basket as far as winning there in order to punch their ticket to the Chase were the ones up front all day fighting for the win. Allmendinger took the lead on a restart with 30 laps to go and held it for the remainder of the day. Ambrose gave Allmendinger all he had and nearly wrestled the lead away from Allmendinger on a restart with two laps left. Allmendinger managed to stay with Ambrose through the left-handed turn six and took the lead back and held on to win his first career race and give his under-funded team a berth in the Chase. Now Ambrose and the rest of the winless drivers have four races left to make it into the Chase.
As emotional as Allmendinger and his crew were for their win, it was another kind of emotional day for Tony Stewart. Stewart, a long-time dirt-track racer and fan, was participating in a sprint car race Saturday night for fun when he made contact with another racer named Kevin Ward, Jr. Ward spun and hit the fence. Ward exited his damaged vehicle and walked down the track towards Stewartís car. Tragically, as Stewart drove past him, his right rear tire hit Ward, sending him flying down the track. Ward was pronounced dead upon arrival at the local hospital. After cooperating with police and having time to consider all possibilities, Stewart announced Sunday morning that he would sit out the Sprint Cup race. He turned the wheel over to former Cup driver and current NASCAR Nationwide Series regular Reagan Smith, saying that ďthere arenít words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr. Itís a very emotional time for all involved, and it is the reason Iíve decided not to participate in todayís race at Watkins Glen. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.Ē
Whether or not Stewart returns next week at Michigan remains to be seen, but that isnít important. What is important is that we of the racing community spend this time sending thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of both Ward and Stewart. Both sides need closure and support during this dark and tragic time. Perhaps both sides could have handled the situation on Saturday night better and hopefully, the Ward family is able to forgive Stewart. With that said, the Sprint Cup Series will be heading to Michigan for the second time this year.
Defending Winner: Joey Logano started and finished first for his first win of the season and his first win for Roger Penske at the track that probably means the most to Penske next to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Most Wins among Active Drivers: Greg Biffle (4)
Prediction: For a while, it seemed Michigan was the only track this driver could win at, since he won there in June 2008 and June 2012 for his only wins between 2007 and 2013. His teammate Jimmie Johnson won there in June and this driver finished seventh, so he knows that his cars are capable of producing the horsepower needed to win. Iím going with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. this week. Heís got three wins this year, so heís now playing with house money with nothing to lose going into the Chase. Jr. is simply looking for wins and bonus points between now and the Chase and this is a great opportunity for Jr. and his crew to obtain both and beef up their intermediate-track program before the Chase starts.
David Barr is a graduate of Daniel Boone High School and Mansfield University, where he received his degree in Communications.