Wallace says Gordons, Montoya and Stewart NASCAR's best
ESPN Analyst and NASCAR Cup Champion Rusty Wallace on Racing at Watkins Glen
Q – You were one of the most successful NASCAR drivers on road courses, with six road course wins in your career. How did you do so well?
“Road racing is all about rhythm and compromise. There are so many corners and you’ve got to be able to understand them all. You have to really enjoy road racing. A lot of people don’t like it and consider it a nuisance. I actually went to a driving school in California and really learned a lot there on technique. I really loved it from the start. I won the final race at Riverside Speedway in California before they closed it down. I considered it an honor.”
Q - In your opinion, which NASCAR drivers are the best on road courses in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and NASCAR Busch Series racing?
“Jeff Gordon and Robbie Gordon are the two best right now, and Tony Stewart is right up there with everybody. But, the odds-on favorite is Juan Pablo Montoya, because of his victories at Mexico City and Infineon Raceway this year.
“In the NASCAR Busch Series it will be a lot of the same guys, but you’ll see some Busch Series regulars do well, too. Robby Gordon and Jamie McMurray will be real tough competitors.
“Montoya will be doing a double, trying to win both of them. There are going to be a lot of ringers out there, too – non-NASCAR Cup drivers like Ron Fellows and guys you haven’t heard of – a lot of names that nobody’s accustomed to seeing will be entered. Look out for the road racing ringers in both of them. Every time we run a road race, there’s always a specialized road-course racer who pops up. They’re used to turning right and left and do it better than most because they do it all the time.”
Q - At Watkins Glen International, what challenges drivers most?
“It has many different style corners and elevation changes. You’ll find drivers flying down the front straightaway, downshifting into second or first gear and then having to make a sharp right turn into the S curves. The back straightaway, you have to brake hard and go through an inner loop built to slow the cars down. That’s a tough corner to get through but it’s safer now this way. And at Watkins Glen, you are mostly turning right, so the set up is totally different. Teams will take the same style car setup for Martinsville Speedway, but take all the weight that’s normally distributed on the left side of the car and move it to the right.”
Q - How will the Car of Tomorrow affect NASCAR NEXTEL Cup racing at Watkins Glen?
“I don’t think the Car of Tomorrow will affect the racing at all. It’s already a proven piece and I don’t expect it to have any problems. I don’t think racing will be different; braking points are the same and really everything will be the same. Racing fans of New York will see a different looking car, but that will be the only difference.”