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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Was that Talladega or the Glen? Violent wrecks mar race

Having battled back pain all year, the last thing Jeff Gordon needed was a head-on crash into a barrier at Watkins Glen.

But that’s exactly what he got, and his wreck was just one of many this weekend that showed how dangerous this track can be.

A quick look back at history, via YouTube, will show you that the Glen has always been a pretty scary place as far as wrecks are concerned. Whether it be in Grand Am Racing, IMSA, Cup, Nationwide, Busch North or other series, a lot of scary wrecks have happened at this very fast road course … include two fatal wrecks. The inner loop was added after the tragic death of J.D. McDuffie during a cup race in 1991, in an effort to slow the cars down.

Still, the track can fool you. It’s a road course, so in a driver’s mind he might think he’s going slower than at the oval tracks. But the Glen is far from slow, and makes for some pretty amazing accidents.

Last year, a wreck involving about nine cars sent David Gilliland hard into the wall, and led to hard hits for other drivers including Sam Hornish Jr. and Bobby Labonte.

This past weekend, Jason Leffler took a flying spin after a hard hit in Nationwide practice, and Joey Logano was left with a fiery pile of rubble for a car after Robby Gordon was done with him.

In Monday’s Cup race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. lost his brakes and got a head-on ride into a tire barrier, eerily similar to the one Jimmie Johnson took about a decade ago during a Nationwide race. Then, Kasey Kahne got into Hornish, who spun into traffic and collected Jeff Gordon in that big wreck.

When drivers talk about tracks that can be tough on a driver as far as wrecks, names like Bristol, Talladega and Daytona come to mind first.

But after watching the past few races at Watkins Glen, I think they need to add another name to that list.


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