The Callahan Report: The competition may gain on Jarrett at Watkins Glen
13 August 1999
By Terry Callahan
WATKINS GLEN, NY: Dale Jarrett has been running away with
the NASCAR Winston
Cup championship lately. His competition may be able to close the gap a
little this weekend at the "Frontier at the Glen".
The Auto Channel
Jarrett, consistent as he has been in 1999, is an average road racer. He was able to finish in fifth place at Watkins Glen last year. Half of that success was driver talent, the other half was teamwork. That powerful combination of teamwork and talent is the reason why Jarrett is well on his way to the 1999 championship. Even with the magical talent possessed by the Ford Quality Care team, Jarrett could easily finish outside the top ten on a road course. The main reason is because NASCAR is full of top-notch road racing talent.
There is another you Hoosier waiting to put his name in the record book. Most racing experts are surprised that it hasn't happened already. Tony Stewart has been impressive throughout his 1999 rookie season. He even impressed himself when he qualified on the front row earlier this season for the road-race at Sears Point. Until that time, Stewart had not raced competitively on a road course since he was twelve years old. Stewart should perform well at "The Glen". He may perform well enough to become a rookie winner.
Another road- racing great is expected to be a front runner at Watkins Glen. Mark Martin is still a little sore after tangling (and losing) with the wall at Daytona in July. He is well enough and determined enough to show why he is always a threat. Martin started this race from the seventh position in 1998, before finishing in second place. He is certainly a good bet for the race win. He also has the added incentive of knowing that he can gain valuable points on points leader, Jarrett. Martin has won this event three times (1993, 1994, and 1995).
Pontiacs have been doing well this season. Bobby Labonte, John Andretti, Tony Stewart, and Ward Burton have all been front-runners. Fans can expect to see a different representative from the Pontiac group towards the front this weekend. Kyle Petty has found that he and Watkins Glen "click". Petty is a former winner at this track (1992). He continues to show he knows how to charge into a turn. He charged all the way from 37th place last year to finish in sixth place. If Petty hopes to see victory in 1999, Watkins Glen is his best chance.
This week's dark horse contender is driving the Lowe's Monte Carlo. Mike Skinner ran a fuel economy race here last year and nearly won . He finished in third place but displayed an error free performance. He won the non-points-paying race in Japan a couple of years ago as well. Skinner has established himself as a serious threat on any road course. Expect Skinner to be there at the end this weekend.
NASCAR road racing only happens twice a year. The Cup drivers will be twisting and shouting at the "Frontier at the Glen" this weekend. Judging from the performance of the current Winston Cup Points leader, it may be the only chance the drivers have to catch Dale Jarrett. If Jarrett falters, his competition may make a request for the remainder of the season to be ran on road courses.