Podium Preview: Go Bowling at The Glen

Can Chase Elliott make it back-to-back wins in today's Go Bowling at The Glen? (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Can Chase Elliott make it back-to-back wins in today’s Go Bowling at The Glen? (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

For the past 33 years, Watkins Glen International has been a summertime stop with the Go Bowling at The Glen.  Of course, names like Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Geoffrey Bodine, Tony Stewart, Steve Park, and Juan Pablo Montoya are synonymous with this eight-turn, 2.454-mile road course.

However, the focus remains on today’s field of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers and teams.  By all means, Round 22 of the season holds significant meaning for those vying for a Playoff spot.

In the meantime, teams locked into the Playoff field may treat today as a test session.  After all, today’s the bookend of the road course season.  After all, the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL serves as the elimination race for the Round of 16.

With that, our columnists, Ashley HobbsChristina BowmanCody ShoppeJose Acero JrKobe LambethMatt SisolerStephen Conley, and Tanner Brown and yours truly discuss about the Pocono doubleheader and NASCAR on NBC’s radio-style telecasts!

Trending Topics
Question 1
Might doubleheader racing be good for other races like the Go Bowling at the Glen? (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Might doubleheader racing be good for other races like the Go Bowling at the Glen? (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Pocono Raceway announced their doubleheader format for 2020.  With their race dates now during a single weekend and the second race’s lineup determined by an inversion (lead lap drivers only), what’s your take on this?  What else would you request for with this doubleheader weekend, and should NASCAR explore this concept with other races?

Bowman :  This is going to be a doozie!! I am really hoping that it’s a good doozie though! I would like to see how this goes at Pocono first, before thinking about expanding to other tracks. That is a lot of points and potentially a lot of emotion packed into one weekend and we could see tempers spill over from Saturday into Sunday. I’m not sold on the inversion of the lead lap cars to determine the lineup for the second race yet, but I’m willing to see it out in the first year and learn from what we see. 

One of the questions I have with this is what happens to cars who are wrecked beyond repair in the first race? Since these are two completely separate points races are the drivers who wrecked out or if applicable; have engine failure going to be allowed to use their backup car? Can they bring a backup backup car? The only hesitation I feel is about using the same car for two days in a row.  The fact that they are counted as two separate points races makes me feel as though the teams should have a choice of whether or not to use the same machine or a backup. 

Hobbs :  I think with this Pocono weekend being so different, I expect there to be different things taking place than your normal race weekend. Since the drivers are using the same car for both races, barring accidents, inverting the field will help prevent, or reduce, the Sunday race from being the exact same as Saturday. Since Pocono is a race about being out front, this will certainly put more strategy on the teams. But, it leaves out the question of what they are going to do with the non lead lap drivers.

As for what else I think should happen during this Pocono double header:

  1. If a driver wins both races, they earn extra Playoff points
  2. Make it a whole racing extravaganza, including qualifying – make qualifying heat races
  3. Shorter races – total weekend of 400 or 500 miles. 700 miles in 2 days is a lot on the mind and body. We’ve heard how much training these guys do for the Coca-Cola 600; I cannot imagine what they would have to do for a 700 mile race in 24 hours.

For other races, I do not think this should be considered because this is a new, different, special thing that is being tried. No use in making it a thing until it is tried.

Lambeth :  I am looking forward to next year’s Pocono doubleheader weekend. It will be something new that has never been seen in NASCAR before. I like the addition of the inversion for lead lap cars in the second Cup race. If we get enough cars finishing on the lead lap, in the first race, the start could be very chaotic. However, I think they should shorten both races. 350 miles is still too long for me. I am fine with a pair of 200-miles races.

In the end, fans would still see 400 miles of racing at the Tricky Triangle. As for trying a doubleheader at other tracks, I say we should wait and see how Pocono goes, before installing another doubleheader weekend. I bet most folks, who travel to the track weekly would appreciate doubleheaders as an effort to shorten the season. 

Shoppe :  I’m excited for this! Thankful for Pocono Raceway and NASCAR for trying something different! It is no secret that Pocono hasn’t been the most exciting edge of your seat event of the year in NASCAR.

So, they have done all they can to make this ticket worth it for a fan! There are still a few questions to be answered such as backup car rule tweaks, motor component changes and other rules for a doubleheader that I wouldn’t even think of! 

Sisoler :  I am really excited for this doubleheader format, particularly the field inversion for lead lap cars, because whenever NASCAR decides to step outside of its normal format for races, it generally leads to more exciting races. The Eldora Dirt Derby with the Truck Series is my prime example. You have qualifying races and an LCQ (Last Chance Qualifier) to determine the starting order, and that makes for exciting racing.

I’m still not 100% sold on Pocono being the best fit for this. I’d think maybe Charlotte or Darlington, or try to bring back a classic track like Rockingham, would work the best for a doubleheader. If NASCAR can nail down the rules before the racing begins on that weekend, there are going to be fireworks and that weekend is going to be something special.

Tiongson :  Honestly, I’m excited for the doubleheader format with the field inversion for the lead lap drivers.  It harkens to a short track racing format but in the big stage. I do agree with Kobe that the race length is a bit long. However, I’m all about trying to balance the entertainment and sports for Pocono. So, this could be a good starting point.

Let’s face it – a track like Pocono hasn’t put together memorable races because of the on-track product.  It’s not a slam to the track. In fact, it’s more on the fact that these cars are aero dependent.  Ultimately, Pocono has become something of a chess match track. Perhaps we’ll see a blend between excitement and strategy – and dare I say it, a fuel mileage race!

If there had to be any other wish list requests for the doubleheader, I’d allow the teams to use a backup car.  And while I love the inversion, I do think we should just invert the entire field and have last place start first.

Lastly, I’d love to see this format used at other tracks.  I could see this doing wonders at a place like Dover or Las Vegas during the Playoffs.  Just as people claim that we all have shorter attention spans and don’t have the time to read detailed pieces, how about the same for races?

Question 2
In like manner, today's Go Bowling at The Glen offers more radio-style telecast calls. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

In like manner, today’s Go Bowling at The Glen offers more radio-style telecast calls. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

NBC utilized a radio-style telecast for the race at Pocono and plans to implement this format for this weekend at Watkins Glen.  What’s your take on this?  As a journalist and observer, what other ideas would you suggest to enhance the telecasts for those at home?

Acero :  It’s a neat concept for NBC  to do “radio style” telecasts every now and then. Would I want to see it at every track, no. Also, why not have the guys from PRN OR MRN (whoever is off that weekend) take care of the radio calls and leave both Dale Jr. and Burton in the booth. As a fa, I like it; I think it adds a little extra excitement. Only thing I ask those in the corners, keep the screaming to a minimum. 

Brown :  I really enjoy listening to the NBC radio-style telecasts. I think it’s a very unique way to broadcast a race from the television perspective. And, I’m glad to see NBC trying different broadcast styles. I think radio-style broadcasts work great for tracks like Pocono and Watkins Glen because they are big race tracks with unique corners.

Also, I think the charm of the radio-style broadcast is they are only used a few times a year. I do think it can enhance the broadcasts of races like the ROVAL and Sonoma. I would like to see FOX try to implement this during the Sonoma broadcast.

Conley :  As a radio personality and knowing most of the crew at MRN and PRN, I love this addition to the TV broadcast. It gives a new perspective, understanding and realization of how things are like at the race track. Now, I will say, if they are going to do this, they need to have more radio personality in the corners, not Dale Jr. and Burton. They are great at what they do, but I think they try to overdo it to match Mike Bagley’s calls. I’ve always been drawn to the radio side and I’m always intrigued when this broadcast style gets utilized.

Lockemy :  I like the approach that NBC is using with the radio-style broadcast. I thoroughly enjoy the MRN broadcast and sometimes prefer to listen to the race versus watching because of how MRN calls the race. I feel that the NBC folks need to do it more often and maybe listen to the MRN broadcast to really grasp how it is done in order for the telecast to sound similar. 

With two stages of the Go Bowling at the Glen completed, let’s review Round 21 of the season with the race and points reports from Pocono!
Bowman delivers another win courtesy of Denny Hamlin.

Bowman delivers another win courtesy of Denny Hamlin.

Presently, the infernal machine leads the way before today's Go Bowling at The Glen.

Presently, the infernal machine leads the way before today’s Go Bowling at The Glen.

Of course, number crunching remains vital for race previews! Ashley Hobbs begins “Crunching the Numbers” for the Go Bowling at The Glen!
How does your favorite team fare at Watkins Glen?

How does your favorite team fare at Watkins Glen?

The race winner has an average starting spot of 5.4 while leading about 34.1 laps since 2004.

The race winner has an average starting spot of 5.4 while leading about 34.1 laps since 2004.

Overall, MTJ reigns supreme at Watkins Glen.

Overall, MTJ reigns supreme at Watkins Glen.

Consider the trends at Watkins Glen since 2009.

Consider the trends at Watkins Glen since 2009.

Now, here's the trends at Watkins Glen since 2014.

Now, here’s the trends at Watkins Glen since 2014.

Currently, the infernal machine foresees a Toyota win.

Currently, the infernal machine foresees a Toyota win.

In the words of the late Don Gillis, wow-wee, it’s time to for our Go Bowling at The Glen race picks!
Past Go Bowling at The Glen winners with some surprise picks!

Past Go Bowling at The Glen winners with some surprise picks!

Conley :  The only driver in the field with more than one win, Mr. “The Glen” Kyle Busch increases his stats in New York.

Acero : Buschhhhhhhhhhhhh, Kyle gets another win at WGI! 

TPF Stats :  2013 was the last time Kyle Busch found Victory Lane at Watkins Glen International. Since then, he has had only one finish outside the top 10 (2014).

Hobbs :  Whoever starts third for the race on Sunday probably has the best chance of going to victory lane. I hope that is Martin Truex Jr. again.

Lockemy :  The driver with the best average finish, average running position and is scored second in fastest laps ran The Glen, Martin Truex, Jr. 

Shoppe :  Martin Truex Jr.

Sisoler :  This track always produces excellent racing, and can provide upsets all over the place. I don’t, however, think we’re going to see an upset. But I think my driver has a good shot to take home another road course victory.

I think Martin Truex Jr. will get redemption for running out of gas last year and pull off a sweep of the two non-ROVAL road courses in 2019!

Bowman :  Daniel Suarez is going to show off his road course skills this weekend.

Brown :  Daniel Suarez has a top-five finish in each of his two Cup starts at Watkins Glen. He gets the upset win this weekend.

Tiongson :  Today, I’m going with a longshot.  Yes, Matt DiBenedetto, I’m going with you to produce an AJ Allmendinger like moment on Sunday with a first career Cup win!  After a top-five at Sonoma, who’s to say it can’t be his day today at Watkins Glen?

Lambeth :  Back-to-back wins for Denny Hamlin.

Race fans, thanks for joining us for our preview of the Go Bowling at The Glen!

We’re ready for some racing. How about you? What do you think are the biggest storylines heading into Sunday’s race and who is your favorite to win?  Tweet us now @ThePodiumFinish and tell us now!

Thanks as always to the TPF team for their amazing efforts this week!  We hope to see you at the races in 2019. 

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Podium Preview are solely of the authors. They do not reflect any organizations affiliated with the participants and author outside of TPF. This weekly feature is strictly for entertainment purposes and are not indicative of TPF, the organization, and its staff.

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by me or by one of my talented columnists who absolutely have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Proud to be from Massachusetts, just as happy to be a Texan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *