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Saturday live from Watkins Glen: Kyle Busch takes Cup pole; Kurt Busch wins Nationwide race

Entering the Glen. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)
Hello from NASCAR weekend at Watkins Glen International. 

Today the big stuff going around the 11-turn track is Sprint Cup qualifying for Sunday's Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen (11:40 a.m. scheduled start) and the Nationwide race (2 p.m.). The Grand-Am Series also races this evening at 6.

I'll have updates throughout the day.

Gravel roads are a part of my alternate route to the Glen. And no, I'm not telling you what it is. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) It was a smooth drive here. After many years of coming to the Glen, I've settled that the Thruway to Route 14 directly south along Seneca Lake is the best way. I have a alternate route that I take to get to the track, but it is a semi off-roading route that I'll keep to myself, thank you very much.

To complete our traffic & weather report, there is a lot of muttering about what tomorrow's weather will bring. The forecast is calling for 80 percent chance of rain. Yikes. That's not good news for the auto racing/high school reporter with high school football practice opening Monday.

Here's Larry Ott's report from the track on Friday.

11:51 a.m. Powered up and ready to go here in the media center as qualifying laps have started for the Sprint Cup. 

During yesterday's practice sessions, the top laps were posted by Kyle Busch (first practice) and Marcos Ambrose (second).

Nationwide qualifying was held earlier, with Kurt Busch taking the top spot ahead of brother Kyle. That race is usually a blast to watch here.

Kurt Busch has been in the middle of a lot of talk here so far as Jimmie Johnson carried over their feud from last week in Pocono with lengthy comments about Busch during his media session on Friday, including sound bites which were in heavy rotation on Sportscenter.

Busch had his regular weekend media session early Saturday morning. He was asked about Johnson's comments and -- as he usually does -- he had some good quotes. The one that jumped out to me: "I means that I'm in his head and if I'm in his head, he's got to worry about us running through this Chase." 

12:22 p.m. Regan (pronounced REE-gan) Smith, the native of Syracuse-area town of Cato, posts the top time on the grid with 19 drivers having run laps. I wrote a story on Smith that was published on Thursday.

That's a good lap for him. Normally he's not good on road courses, but a good performance at Sonoma, Calif., this year, along with his other successes, has him fired up for this year's visit to his home state.

12:31 p.m. Just had a short visit from Chuck Howard, who many Western New York sports fans will remember as a member of the WIVB Ch. 4 sports team. Howard, a native of South Dayton and a Pine Valley grad, was part of a Ch. 4 staff which included Van Miller, Brian Blessing and Paul Peck. I know those names well since I was an intern for Ch. 4 during my University at Buffalo days. 

Howard is now working for NASCAR and Larry Ott will catch up with him as part of his story in Sunday's paper.

12:33 p.m. Denny Hamlin goes for a surprising spin exiting Turn Nine. Smith still on top of the charts.

12:41 p.m. Jimmie Johnson surges to the top of the speed chart, nearly a half-second faster than Smith. Not a big surprise there. Lots of big guns yet to come so we'll see how long that holds up.

It would be interesting if Johnson is in the top three, which would mean he'd have another opportunity to talk to the media -- and possibly respond to Kurt Busch's comments this morning. 

12:51 p.m. Kurt Busch and Johnson won't be neighbors on the starting grid. Busch had a wiggly lap here and there and currently stands 14th to Johnson's first. 

1 p.m. Marcos Ambrose, who is extremely perturbed that he doesn't have a ride to defend his Nationwide title this afternoon, has put himself on the pole. Not much of a surprise there. The Tasmanian is a superb road racer who is getting better overall (23rd in points).

1:20 p.m. A surprise here as A.J. Allmendinger goes all-out on his lap and takes the pole from Ambrose. Whoa. 

1:24 p.m. Two drivers later, the final driver in the qualifying lineup takes the pole. Kyle Busch, who was last in the lineup due to his top performance in practice, backed that up with a fast lap of 69.767 seconds (126.421 mph).

1:28 p.m. Kyle Busch's lap sets a Sprint Cup record at the Glen. The old record was by Jeff Gordon back in 2003, which was a 70.7979-second circuit at 124.58 mph.

And two NASCAR races here, two Busch brother poles.

1:30 p.m. Interviews going on now here in the media center.

1:41 p.m. The top 15 qualifiers surpassed that record of Gordon's. Fast cars, a lot on the line for the Chase, Johnson and Kurt Busch fueding, Ambrose and Allmendinger aiming for road course wins -- it all sets a fun stage for tomorrow. I'll run down all of those factors in the story for Sunday's paper. 

I'll also have a story on the Nationwide race, which is a bit away from starting. Timeout for me. 

2:32 p.m. The Nationwide is under way with pole-sitter Kurt Busch leading and brother Kyle in second through 15 laps. I'll be working on my stories -- actually I've got to put together a high school story as well -- but I'll chime in with anything worth talking about, and with this race there usually is no shortage of that. 

I watched the first few laps of the race at Turn One, down pit lane as far as we are allowed to go. It's a traditional stop. Just hearing -- and feeling -- the field dive into that first big turn is a must-experience deal here. 

3:53 p.m. I shifted gears (heh-heh) to update the Prep Talk blog with the news that East Aurora's Stan Wier has verbally committed to the University at Buffalo. Shifting back to auto racing ...

And right on time -- we're heading down the stretch of the Nationwide race with Kyle Busch leading brother Kurt with six laps to go. The brothers have dominated a race that has been fairly uneventful (thus the lack of updates).

3:57 p.m. Whoa. Kyle Busch goes to pit road! Apparently they were low on fuel. Bummer for that team. Now Kurt in the lead.

4 p.m. Another whoa. An accident with Eric McClure and Casey Roderick brings out a yellow. Kyle should have a chance to get back in it with a green-white-checkered finish. Only 10 cars on the lead lap thanks to just having one previous caution flag.

4:08 p.m. Should be a very fun finish. Kurt Busch leads Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson (!), Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Ron Fellows, Paul Menard, Elliott Sadler. 

4:12 p.m. Kurt Busch speeds off the restart, then puts space in between himself and Johnson for the WIN of the Nationwide Series Zippo 200 after 85 laps (the green-white-checkered added on to the scheduled 82). 

Kurt Busch applauds the No. 22 team in victory lane. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

4:22 p.m.
In the picture above you can see Brad Keselowski, the usual driver for the No. 22, in a blue golf shirt to the left of the car as Kurt Busch celebrates in victory lane. 

Your top 10: Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Logano, Kyle Busch, Edwards, Menard, Fellows, Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, Sadler.

4:46 p.m. More writing time for me. I'll be back tomorrow for updates from the track on the race (or a weather report).

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

Watkins Glen president on IndyCar return in 2012: 'I highly doubt it.'

When I asked Watkins Glen International president Michael Printup if there was a chance the IndyCar Series would return to the famed Finger Lakes track in 2012, he said: "I highly doubt for next year."

And the more he talked, it seemed the level of doubt got higher and higher. 

"We haven't been able to meet anything and their schedule is already full for next year," said Printup, a native of Hamburg who just completed his second full year as president at WGI.

Watkins Glen was left of this year's IndyCar schedule after a six-year run at the track. That run featured various date changes and mixed reviews on attendance but often very entertaining racing.

Drivers and teams had been near-unanimous in their appreciation for the track and it's open-wheel history, which includes the hosting of Formula One's U.S. Grand Prix from 1961-80 and CART IndyCar events from 1979-81.

"I wish Randy [Bernard, who took over as IndyCar CEO last summer] would take a look at what's going on in his sport and take a look at us, because we obviously have something to offer that the drivers love," Printup said following a public relations event featuring Juan Pablo Montoya -- the defending champion of the Glen's NASCAR race -- at the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in the Rochester suburb of Henrietta. "And if you ask Juan, he'll tell you the the same thing because he told another [reporter] earlier.

"It's a shame that they're not racing at the Glen. They belong there. The drivers -- you have to go where the racing is racing. Toronto was not racing, Milwaukee wasn't racing. Watkins Glen is racing. Where do fans what to see it, whether it is on TV or live? It's a facility that can provide the excitement."

Printup said that the reasons behind the IndyCar's absence from the Glen come down to money.

"It goes back to the contract, it goes back to what we pay them," he said. "It goes back to the business relationship. You've got to have a product to sell; they've got the product, but you can't outprice yourself either. That's true in free trade, too, supply and demand."

"They wanted more money -- and it didn't fit the business model for WGI."

Printup, as he has said in the past, hopes the series will return to the Glen in the future. 

"Once we can all figure that out together," he said of the business model, "I think we'll all put together a great product again."

Printup said that despite the lack of the IndyCar event this summer, the season was busier for he and his staff. The Glen hosting a celebrated car swap with NASCAR's Tony Stewart and Formula One's Lewis Hamilton in June followed by a Phish concert over the Fourth of July weekend (which had been the IndyCar series' most recent event date).

"We actually got busier," Printup said. "It actually really put a lot of pressure on the staff to function so often together. We always concentrate on Cup obviously, and we're looking forward to it, we're just a mere month away."

Track officials held events with Montoya to promote this summer's NASCAR race weekend of Aug. 12-14. NASCAR has been racing at the Glen since 1986, and its August weekend has regularly attracted crowds estimated close to 100,000.

Ticket sales "are going great," said Printup. "I think we'll be up to the capacity that we were at least last year -- again."

Montoya was in Canandaigua earlier in the afternoon, visiting the Junior Chef Camp at the New York Wine & Culinary Center -- which will have some of its instructor chefs running culinary courses at this weekend's Finger Lakes Wine Festival at the Glen. Montoya then visited with a group of loyal Glen ticket holders at Wild Wings, engaging in an entertaining question & answer session.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

Montoya pulls away to win the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen

Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates atop his car in victory lane. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)
Gentlemen (and ladies), start your keyboards. It's live chat time. I'll be keeping notes for myself on the progress of the race, and you are welcome to chime in.

Check out our morning blog here.

After the race, feel free to add comments below.

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The victory is the second of Montoya's career (131 races); his first was also at a road course at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. That was on June 24, 2007, 113 races ago. He won by 4.735 seconds over Kurt Busch (best career finish on a road course).

The rest of the top five were Marcos Ambrose (third top 10 in three races here), A.J. Allmendinger, Carl Edwards. Rounding out the top 10 were Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon.

There were five cautions for 13 laps -- exactly the same amounts from last year's race. NASCAR estimated the attendance at 90,000.

---Keith McShea

Sunday morning live from Watkins Glen

NOTE: During the race I'm at a separate blog post. Thanks.

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Good morning from Watkins Glen International. 

If you haven't seen them already, here are our stories in today's paper: a main preview and report of qualifying by me and report of qualifying by me, as well as a Nationwide race report as well as a notebook focusing on Western New York natives by Larry Ott.

The foot traffic was tight in the infield of the Glen Sunday morning. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) We'll have a few notes here leading up to the race, when I'll do a live interactive blog. I keep notes on the race anyway -- it will be something I reference when I'm putting my story together later on.

9:21 a.m. As any race fan (or race reporter) knows, It's always great to get to the track very early on race day.

The drive up from Corning was pretty smooth -- I took an alternate route to stay away from potential backups and clogged infield roads. A house close to Corning on Route 414 was decorated with some serious Jeff Gordon material, including a birthday wish (he turned 39 on was Aug. 4). The local police, as they have for years, have divided the two-lane roads to the track into three lanes with temporary barriers -- a big help for the tens of thousands of fans making their way to the track on race day.

9:49 a.m. A shout-out to Mother Nature for what has been a fantastic weather weekend, one thing that was missing last year when the race was rained out and pushed to Monday for the first time.

11:47 a.m. Went for my annual Sunday morning walk around the infield, which was pretty great considering the weather, what seemed like a better-than-usual crowd and an infield setup that seems to improve every year. There was a time where it was quite cramped when one walked around the merchandise trailers, but the layout has improved in the last couple of years.

The Turn 10 Village -- which consists of various merchandise trailers -- had steady traffic while throngs of people made their way through paths lined with tents set up by various companies, many of them offering freebies or prizes. There was also the Speed television stage, where the network has been broadcasting all weekend, and various food options. Seemed like an improved fan-friendly experience from previous years.

I took some photos and will add them soon.

12:18 p.m. This one will be quick. I just want to thank Watkins Glen International for going to the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que for its media center food this year. Yum.

I also highly recommend the Terrell's Dinosaur Bar-B-Que potato chips, although I'm not sure if the Syracuse company's chips are available in Buffalo. What can I say? Sportswriters become sportswriters for the free food. 

12:21 p.m. Race time is about an hour away. The ESPN broadcast starts at 1 p.m.

1:06 p.m. The National Anthem has concluded (former American Idol guy Bo Bice, for those of you in anthem singer fantasy leagues).

1:13 p.m. Time to shift gears (heh). We've got our live blog/chat post up now.

---Keith McShea

Saturday live from Watkins Glen: Edwards takes Cup pole; Ambrose wins third straight Zippo 200

Hello from Watkins Glen International where myself and Larry Ott are on hand for the annual NASCAR weekend here.

Gentleman, start your credentials. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) We'll have updates throughout the day and we'll have a live interactive chat Sunday afternoon.

11 a.m. While Larry was here Friday (check out a cool story on Colden's Glenn Waldron of Greg Biffle's No. 16 Ford team), I arrive for Sprint Cup qualifying on what is a fabulous day in the Finger Lakes.

Marcos Ambrose was fastest in Nationwide qualifying and will start from the pole in the race this afternoon at 2. He set a Nationwide track record with his lap of 122.410 mph. Not a shocker at all -- the road racer-turned-NASCAR regular has won the last two Nationwide races here.

11:29 a.m. Cup qualifying is under way; Jacques Villenueve just visited in the media center (answering some questions in French); Ott interviewed Roxanne Kraemer, a Western New York native who is a series coordinator/technical inspector for the Nationwide Series.

12:19 p.m. Carl Edwards and his crew are thrilled with a very fast lap that puts him atop the speed chart.

1:01 p.m. As the go-or-go-homers (the drivers who have to race their way into the race -- there are 10 drivers for seven spots) start their qualifying runs, Edwards is still on top and in position to be on the pole.

1:26 p.m. Qualifying has concluded and Edwards is indeed the pole winner. His lap was measured at 124.432 mph and clocked in 1 minute, 10.88 seconds

The drivers who failed to make the race are: J.J. Yeley, Dave Blaney and Tony Ave. Max Papis was the last driver to attempt to qualify for the race; he put his No. 13 Toyota in the 28th spot, leaving David Gilliland as the last man in and Yeley as the first man out.

1:40 p.m. After Ganassi Racing teammates Juan Pablo Montoya (starting third) and Jamie McMurray (second) met with the media, Edwards literally ran in and ran out after a brief but good Q&A -- he answered three or four questions before heading back to the track for the Nationwide race.

Edwards' pole is his first since 2008 at Bristol and it comes at a good time as he is 10th in points with five races remaining until the top 12 advance to the 10-race postseason.

Edwards' lap was quite a bit faster than McMurray's (123.814; 1:01.24).

The best line during Edwards' session was him relaying that his super-quick lap time prompted some people to wonder if he had driven straight through the Inner Loop at the end of the backstretch, a spot referred to as the "bus stop" because of its notched-in nature to the infield.

"I heard a couple people were questioning whether I made the bus stop or not," he said. "I thought that was pretty funny - with that lap time, I would have said the same thing."

Edwards was just off the record lap of Jeff Gordon in 2003 (124.580 mph; 1:10.798).

2:03 p.m. National Anthem just concluded for Nationwide race.

It might be interesting to monitor the drivers who race both events here this weekend due to a minor change in the schedule. In years past, things were a little stretched out with Cup qualifying Friday, the Nationwide race on Saturday before the Sunday Cup race. Actually, on first glance the guys who are doing double-duty are having strong weekends in both series. We'll see.

2:41 p.m. This Nationwide race here -- the Zippo 200 -- is always an entertaining event, and we saw a little of why when Kyle Busch raced past Jacques Villeneuve heading into the final turn, Turn 11. Might have had a little contact there.

2:50 p.m. We're yellow for the first time due to some debris. With 20 laps down, Joey Logano leads with Ambrose second. Edwards' Nationwide day is not going well right now -- a long stop in pit road due to some damage and apparently some communication and mechanical problems. As Marty Reid said on the ESPN coverage, "than that, he's fine." Nice.

2:57 p.m. Edwards went back out on the track, then came off -- and went to the garage. Yikes.

3:05 p.m. Speaking of "Yikes," we have a major smash-up coming out of the caution. Jason Leffler went off course wide out of Turn One then came whipping back across the accelerating line of cars, slamming right into Justin Allgaier's car and causing a chain reaction accident not unlike something you might see (hopefully not) on the highway.

In the back of the pack, Tony Raines' No. 34 gets propped up onto another car after getting whacked hard from behind by Billy Johnson in the No. 6 -- with Victor Gonzalez in the No. 05 going into the back of Johnson as if he wasn't even paying attention. It is a 10-car pileup in the Esses and we have a red flag after 23 laps. 

3:29 p.m. We hear engines fired up on pit road just outside the media center, and indeed the red flag has changed to yellow. NASCAR just announced the red flag period lasted 25 minutes, 23 seconds.

3:37 p.m. We're back to racing and Kyle Busch has surged to the lead ahead of Ambrose; Edwards is back on the track but very, very slow.

3:40 p.m. Edwards is off the track again and his day is over. Ambrose is hounding Busch up front, a familiar sight here. While Ambrose has won the last two Nationwide races here, Busch has been second.

3:56 p.m. The Nationwide order has been restored -- Ambrose passes Busch as they came upon some lap traffic. Some nice moves by the Australian, as usual. 

4:08 p.m. Ambrose came back after his second pit stop to battle with Kyle Busch behind leader Villeneueve; then Ambrose passed Villeneauve (who still had to pit) for the lead as a caution flag came out for apparently some oil on the track. It's 52 laps down, 30 to go.

4:23 p.m. With 26 to go, Ambrose keeps the lead after the restart after challenges from Busch and Brad Keselowski.

4:32 p.m. We have another caution after a piece of debris broke off of Paul Menard's car; Ambrose had a lead of four seconds while Busch just recently got loose and lost a few spots up front. Scoring monitor shows 65 laps down, 17 to go.

4:39 p.m. Back to green after a two-lap caution and Ambrose speeds out again to a big lead.

4:58 p.m. Marcos Ambrose wins his third straight Zippo 200 -- by a ton. 

Ambrose gets a victory shower in victory lane. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)
Ambrose makes the familiar turn into victory lane. The rest of the top 10: Logano, Harvick, Keselowski, Busch, Ron Fellows, Nelson Piquet Jr., Villeneuve, Steven Wallace, Michael McDowell.

Time to get stories set for Sunday's paper.

---Keith McShea

Live from the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen: Power wins to give Penske first Glen IndyCar win

Just after the National Anthems at the Glen. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)
Hello again on what is a beautiful Fourth of July in the beautiful Finger Lakes region. We'll be monitoring today's IndyCar event at Watkins Glen International, the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen, when the race goes live -- television coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. but the race itself is scheduled to start at 3:55.

Before our green flag drops for the live chat at 3:45, check out today's coverage -- my story focuses on Team Penske sweeping the top three qualifying spots; Larry Ott's column is a great first-person view of a couple of laps around the road course here in a two-seater Indy car. 

Will Power is interviewed in victory lane following his victory. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

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It is the first victory at Watkins Glen International for Team Penske, which has started from the pole in all six races here.

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After the race, I'll be busy writing for Monday's paper, but you can feel free to give your opinion on the race in the comments section below.

---Keith McShea

Live from the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen qualifying: Power wins IndyCar pole

Hello from high above the southern tip of Seneca Lake -- Larry Ott and I are at Watkins Glen International this weekend for the Camping World Grand Prix at the Glen.

Qualifying is today with the race Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on ABC. I'll have a live blog here Sunday afternoon as I take notes on the race.

1:15 p.m. Qualifying has begun. IndyCar qualifying is a three-round process. The first step has two groups of cars going out -- with only the fastest six advancing to Round Two. You can keep track of the action at

The only thing of note from this morning's practice session was E.J. Viso's spinning crash along Turns One and Two; he was fine. He took his No. 8 KV Racing Technology car wide out of Turn One, made contact with the barrier on the right side of the track, then slid across to the left side, making contact again with the barrier and sustaining heavy damage.

Paul Tracy comes to the pits after his Round One qualifying session. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) 1:33 p.m. The first session of qualifying has concluded with Helio Castroneves, Marco Andretti, Ryan Briscoe, Justin Wilson, Adam Carroll and Mario Moraes advancing to the next round.

Not advancing are, notably, Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick -- she had the second-worst lap of the session and will start well in the back of the pack. Also not making it: Simona deSilvestro, Vitor Meira, Alex Tagliani and Bertrand Baguette.

1:40 p.m. Ryan Hunter-Reay goes for a spin in the boot, I believe, to bring out the caution flag with about nine minutes left in the 15-minute second session.

2:03 p.m. I got out of the media center for a bit to take a walk outside by the track -- it's a spectacularly sunny day here. Snapped a few photos (there's one above) and took a few videos (there's one below).

Round Two has begun, with Will Power, Takuma Sato, Dario Franchitti, Raphael Matos, Scott Dixon and Paul Tracy having advanced from the second group in Round One.

The lineup of spots 13 through 25 in the starting grid are all set with cars that did not advance from Round One; they are based on lap times from the first round of qualifying: Kanaan (13th), Hideki Mutoh, deSilvestro, Hunter-Reay, Meira, Mario Romancini, Tagliani, Dan Wheldon, Patrick, Alex Lloyd, Baguette, Milka Duno and E.J. Viso (25th). 

2:11 p.m. We have our Fast Six who will race for the pole in Round Three: Power, Castroneves, Franchitti, Briscoe, Wilson and Sato -- Sato is the surprise guy there, he's a rookie who is 22nd in the points standings. 

In spots seven through 12: Dixon (a surprise he's not in the final six -- second in points and a three-time winner here), Andretti, Moraes, Carroll, Matos, Tracy.

2:25 p.m. The 10-minute Fast Six qualifying session has begun.

2:35 p.m. The qualifying session ends with Will Power on top, followed by Castroneves, Briscoe, Franchitti, Sato and Wilson.

Castroneves' session ended in ignominious fashion as he was apparently unable to turn in the bottom of the boot (the section of the track not used by NASCAR) and drove straight through Turn Seven and into the gravel that slows cars down. He doesn't appear to have been injured.

Power leads a Team Penske 1-2-3 sweep of the podium positions. Penske has won eight straight pole positions -- this is the ninth race of the IndyCar season. Power's lap took 1 minute, 29.3164 seconds and went an average of 135.832 mph.

3:20 p.m. The postrace interviews have concluded and I'm going into story-writing mode soon. Sato was very pleased with his fifth-place starting spot, the best of his career.

I'm starting to research him -- he's been a low-level Formula One driver prior to coming to IndyCar this season as a "rookie." The Penske guys were pleased with their sweep of qualifying and they were asked about Penske's drought here at Watkins Glen, where the team has never won. With Wilson starting fifth, Franchitti fourth and Dixon seventh, there's a nice mix up front. Sounds like that's what I'll be writing my story about.  

One interesting thing during the press conferences was when Will Power was talking glowingly about the Glen -- he said "I hope we come back here." I thought it was pretty notable that there would even be a possibility that this historic track might be without an open-wheel race in the future, but I suppose with the new leadership of the IndyCar Series (including new CEO Randy Bernard) and changes on the way (Baltimore and New Hampshire are getting races in 2011), anything's possible.

5 p.m. I just read Larry Ott's column for tomorrow -- you should definitely check it out in the Sunday paper (or on here). He went for a ride in a two-seat Indy Car and wrote about it. Great stuff.

I'll be back here tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. for a live chat during the race.

---Keith McShea

Bonus coverage from the Glen

Today's online version of Larry Ott's story about the three Western New York natives working on Greg Biffle's crew has an extended look at their weekend that's not in the paper. Check it out here.

It's an interesting glimpse into what a crew member does to prepare for raceday, as well as what the trio were responsible for once the green flag flew.

The long weekend -- extended by one day due to Sunday's rainout -- concluded with Tony Stewart making it a fifth impressive victory at the Glen. I also compiled some highlights and lowlights.

---Keith McShea

Monday live at the Glen: Stewart a winner for record fifth time

Tony Stewart gets interviewed in victory lane. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

Good morning from Watkins Glen International. It kinda feels like I'm in a version the movie Groundhog Day because it's race day, take two.

Join me in the nifty box below for an interactive blog of the race. I won't tell your boss if you don't.

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Here's the lead-up to race time:

We'll be blabbering here as we count down to this afternoon's one-day delayed Sprint Cup series' Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips At The Glen (and our one-day delayed live chat). NASCAR's schedule states that the green flag will fly at 12:19 p.m.

Here's yesterday's blog and today's Buffalo News story about the rainout, in which I talked about first-time Sprint Cup starter Andy Lally having to wait another day for his debut.

Crew members get ready in the garage Monday morning. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)8:16 a.m. It's kind of a surreal scene here today after the race was rained out Sunday. As I drove in one of the Glen's side doors -- Gate One off of Meads Hill Road -- several campers and cars were on their way out of the track. I'd imagine that plenty of people, as much as they'd like to see the race, either had to hit the road last night or have to stick around until tomorrow.

As I drove past the outside of the Esses portion of the track, the super-powered-blow-drying trucks were going by. I had to roll up the window because I was catching a significant part of the breeze.

8:20 a.m. Oh yeah. The most important thing, of course: we have sunny skies right now. The forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms and a 60 percent chance of rain. We're keeping our fingers crossed as we type.

The pit area is getting busy on what is a bright Monday morning. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) 9:51 a.m. Just went for a quick walk around the pits and garage area, both which were buzzing with activity. I took the two pictures you see here -- note those sunny skies.

9:53 a.m. News local auto racing expert Larry Ott was also out in the garage checking in with local guys Rodney Fetters (Niagara Falls), Ryan Gamble (Sanborn) and he'll be seeing Glenn Waldron (Colden) a little later -- they are all part of Greg Biffle's No. 16 Ford team, and Larry will be spending the day in the pits watching out their crucial day at the Glen goes -- Biffle is 12th in the points standings. Fetters is a jackman, Gamble a gas man and Waldron a mechanic. Should be a fun story.

10:38 a.m. The volume in the media room went up suddenly when a guy stuck his head in and started hollering at some reporters and media reps. The guy is made-for-television former driver Jimmy Spencer.

Pit road around 11:30 a.m. Sunday. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) Sprint Cup cars out of their car covers on pit road Monday morning. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) 10:43 a.m. We have some good weather news. The forecast is now for scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon, with the precipitation chance down from 60 to 50 percent.

11:15 a.m. I'm off to see some serious bumping in traffic. Heading to the lunch room in the media center. That joke works every race.

11:31 a.m. We've got reporters grumbling about the food and one media member on the phone arguing with someone about what they've been charged for changing their flight. This is not a happy room.

11:33 a.m. After all this waiting, it's almost hard to comprehend we'll be racing in less than an hour.

I took another quick walk out to pit road and it's out phenomenal out right now.

I snapped the two pictures, one looking up the track from the entrance to the garage and one looking back. Fans are filing in. We'll have to see if the huge grandstand on the frontstretch is as filled as it was when we were about to go racing Sunday.

12:04 p.m. Every thing is ready to go. National Anthem is in the books. I'm switching over to the live blog window now.

* * *

Afterwards, feel free to add comments below.

---Keith McShea

Sunday live at the Glen: Postponed until Monday

Hello from NASCAR raceday at Watkins Glen International.

8:52 a.m. We arrive at the track after a grey, gloomy, drizzly, windshield-wiper-y drive up from Corning. All morning we'll be watching the Weather Channel to see if Mother Nature has any plans to disrupt today's 2 p.m. scheduled start of cars on the track.

The drizzly drive in through Gate Two at the Glen. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

9:49 a.m. While I've been doing a lot of Web-work, Larry Ott -- has he has done all weekend -- had been in and out of the garage tracking locals involved in today's race. He's already talked to Rodney Fetters of Niagara Falls, who is the jackman for Greg Biffle's crew. He's out talking to Ryan Gamble of Sanborn, who is the gas man for Biffle's team. With Glenn Waldron, a surface plate mechanic, also on the team, Larry's going to be hanging out with them for a lot of what is a crucial race for the No. 16 team (12th in points).

9:53 a.m. Great weather report from Larry. "It's not raining right now."

10:11 a.m. Not great weather report from James Johnson of the Rochester's Democrat & Chronicle. "Drizzling, off and on."

10:19 a.m. Just stepped outside the media center for my own weather report: I think we're going to go racing just fine today. Grey skies, but brightening.

10:20 a.m. Went to the bathroom and washed my hands alongside ... Boris Said, who will start ninth in today's race. That adds to my famous (or infamous) brushes with greatness (or not so much) in bathrooms at Watkins Glen International. A few years ago, when the bathrooms were in a trailer outside the rickety, cramped media center. I walked out and realized I had taken care of business next to then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Insert punchline here.

11:02 a.m. If you're Facebook friends with me, you can see video of my pace car ride yesterday. But I can't post it here due to NASCAR restrictions. Makes sense though that other media entities have the online rights.

11:06 a.m. Yikes. One of the greatest weekends ever for Buffalo sports fans ... and Patrick Kane gets arrested

11:11 a.m. Off for the annual walk around the Glen infield.

11:54 a.m. A successful trip to the "mall." The Glen rearranged the merchandise trailers this year -- it was a longer walk, but the layout is much friendlier. It's less of a grid and more enjoyable to walk around. It's crowded but there seemed to be more space this year. I got a program, which comes with a small diecast -- I've got a diecast from each year they sold them when I've covered the race for The News. 

A view of overcast skies from the top of the media center near victory lane; downtown Watkins Glen and the southern tip of Seneca Lake is to the right. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)The best news: no precipitation. It's overcast but the temperature is rising and it seems to me like the sun is ready to burn this stuff off. But I'm just a sportswriter

1:01 p.m. You want bumping and banging? You want major traffic? Try getting lunch in the media center! Baddump-bump.

1:10 p.m. Stepped outside the media center on the second level that looks over victory lane and the skies were overcast but the sun was trying to power through. Things look good.

1:12 p.m. Then again, I just got an email from a race fan drooling for some race action. "It's raining and thunder-bumping big-time here in Hamburg, perfectly lined up for a 2:30-ish arrival in Schuyler County. There's no way they get this thing in, is there?" We shall see, race fans.

1:39 p.m. One radar Web site-scouring reporter to another just drawled: "It looks like it's gonna rain from 3 to about 4:15 -- but after that it should be fine." 

Teams cover up cars in pit lane and fans file out of the grandstands as the decision to delay the race is announced. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)1:58 p.m. Our live blog post is up and we'll be hanging out there for the race ... and hopefully not any rain delays.

2:16 p.m. Check that. No race yet. We've been delayed, and that's a good thing. I was just atop the media center and saw a few lightning bolts. The cars have been covered and drivers are hanging out in the garage area. 

TV showed some menacing-looking radar screens. The jumbotrons here read: "Heavy Rain. Please Seek Shelter."

2:30 p.m. The media center is getting crowded, and noisy, as photographers and cameramen come in from the storm.

2:39 p.m. Rain is coming down and puddling on pit road. Thunder audible here in media center. 

2:55 p.m. You can bet that NASCAR will wait as long as they can to get the race in, particularly when you think about last week's race at Pocono being rained out.

Two consecutive races being moved back a day would be bad news in terms of TV ratings, attention for the series and the sponsors and logistics for all the teams (the next stop is next weekend Michigan).

If you work backwards from 8-8:15 p.m. as your daylight expiration time, and you guesstimate two hours for a official race (halfway through would be 45 laps), the race could conceivably start close to 6 p.m.

3:20 p.m. My sunny disposition is taking a hit, because I'm now having doubts about whether we'll get this race in. The radar says a system will pass through here, but my Facebook is gettng hit with status updates of Buffalonians complaining about the rain. Hmm. It's still dark grey skies and drizzling here, with blow-drying trucks making their way around the track. 

3:32 p.m. More gloomy evidence: the page for Watkins Glen states there is a severe thunderstorm watch on until 7 p.m. Yikes. The hour-by-hour forecast calls for 65 percent chance of rain at 5 p.m. and sunny skies at 6 p.m., which one would think would be the latest the race could be started. 

3:39 p.m. NASCAR's race page stated at 3:19 p.m. "The rain is now a drizzle as the storm looks to have moved past the track. Drying efforts continue as it will take a couple hours to get the track race-ready." We're going to be cutting it close if we go racing today.

3:43 p.m. It's pretty wild -- on television it doesn't nearly look as dark as it is here. A few shots of pit road were just on ESPN, while here just a glance out the window shows it a lot darker. I noticed that earlier this year while attending the U.S. Open golf tournament at Bethpage -- I was on the course as groups played up until the horn sounded to suspend play. Later when I watched the same action on television highlights, it looked much brighter than it actually was when I was in person. 

3:48 p.m. Some scuttlebutt from the garage, where Larry Ott just returned from -- a theory that if NASCAR got at least one lap in, then it would be on better footing as far as trying to get the entire race in. If it waits until later to start a race that obviously won't go the full 90-lap distance, that won't likely sit well with fans who paid to see a whole race. Then again, if I'm a fan, I probably have to go back to work tomorrow and would probably settle for a 50-lap fun. But that's just me. 

In any case, Ott says it is raining right now. If NASCAR as looking to fit this entire race in, that window (guesstimate at least three hours) would appear to be closing quite quickly.

4:03 p.m. A full-time national Cup newspaper reporter is on the phone with what sounds like an editor. "We're done ... I'll file a story from my hotel." That doesn't sound good :-) No announcement has been made on television or to the media center. 

4:06 p.m. The jumbotrons have it: "Heluva Good! at the Glen has been rescheduled to 12:00 pm tomorrow."

4:22 p.m. Just ran out to the garage to get some quotes from Andy Lally. I'm all wet but happy I got an angle and some good quotes for a halfway decent rainout story. Gotta update a lot of stuff on here.

4:59 p.m. Updated and reworked a story for

---Keith McShea

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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.