The winding, 2.45-mile Watkins Glen road course has seen it's fair share of great racing. Here, Athlon Sports contributor Vito Pugliese highlights 10 of the most memorable NASCAR moments at the historic facility in upstate New York.
10. Big wreck and Boris vs. Biffle
Run on a Monday following a rain delay, the last lap at The Glen in 2011 was a demolition derby, as David Ragan goes head-on into the wall, ricochets into Reutimann sending him skyward and nearly taking the wires down with him. In the garage after the race, Boris Said tries to go “Waterboy” on Greg Biffle, and later challenges him to a fight outside of his house. Seriously.
9. Here comes the BOOM
One of the nastiest hits ever witnessed, Jeff Gordon drills Sam Hornish Jr. broadside at Watkins Glen in 2009. No, we don’t celebrate wrecks, but this one was about as violent as they come. Reminds me of the video for “Enter Sandman” when the semi-truck hits the bed.
8. Look Mom, no brakes!
Jimmie Johnson could have been in a word of hurt in this 2000 hit if not for safety innovations installed in Turn 1. What he thought was a concrete wall was thankfully a wall of Styrofoam, as Johnson jumped the sand trap and buried his No. 92 Herzog Chevrolet into it. Alls well though for six-time as he goes Johnny Drama on top of it afterwards.
7. No Autographs!
Matt Kenseth iced this overly enthusiastic (and inebriated) fan during a red flag period at Watkins Glen in 2008. Not the brightest thing for a fan to do, but still smarter than the maniac who ran across the track at Pocono in 1992. Guy was hooked and booked, charged with being a big drunk dummy. Here are his buddies taping him.
6. The Seas Part
Move on to the 6:45 mark to get to the action on this clip. While recognized as one of the best road racers in the series, Mark Martin didn’t claim a road win until 1993. The leader, Kyle Petty, spins and collects second-place Dale Earnhardt. That opens the door for Martin, who collects his first of four consecutive victories that season. It also began a streak that witnessed Martin winning three straight races at WGI.
5. Robby Gordon: Up in Smoke
Fat forward to the 1:15:30 mark to get to the action in this clip for Watkins Glen in 2001. Robby Gordon had taken over for Mike Skinner at Richard Childress Racing earlier in the season and looked to be one of the drivers to beat in upstate New York. Crew chief Larry McReynolds figured the fuel perfectly and they were on cruise control, looking for a win. Unfortunately, that’s when NBC’s battery pack for the onboard camera gave up the ghost and went into self-destruct mode. Gordon was forced to pull over and watch it burn baby burn, along with his chance at his first career win.
4. Park, DEI grab first Cup win
While the 2001 season was a harrowing year for Dale Earnhardt, Inc., the fledgley company was rounding nicely into form the season prior. Steve Park won his first Cup Series race in Park’s home track of Watkins Glen, which also served as DEI’s first Cup triumph. Not necessarily known as a road racer, Park had to hold off one of the best ever at The Glen in Mark Martin in the closing laps to claim the victory. He would win once more, at Rockingham in February 2001.
3. Playing Pattycakes
In what might be the worst attempt ever at recreating the Cale vs. Donnie Battle Royale in Turn 3 at Daytona, Kevin Harvick and Juan Pablo Montoya show exactly how not to get into Turn 1 — and how not to, uhhh, “fight” afterwards. What’s next guys, a strongly worded Tweet?
2. “I owe you one now, buddy.”
Jeff Gordon was going for his fourth straight WGI win in 2000 but Tony Stewart saw to it that it wouldn’t happen. After contact on the first lap sent both to the garage, this dandy of a conversation took place.
1. Best. Finish. Ever.
When the book is written featuring the best finishes ever, this will be the race that accompanies the 1979 Daytona 500 and the 2003 Darlington photo finish. Pick it up about the 2:00 mark. This is the best Ford vs. Dodge chase scene since “Bullitt.”
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