Fellows Great At The Glen

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – In just four previous Busch Series starts, road-course specialist Ron Fellows had three Top 5s and two wins – including one last season at Watkins Glen International.

So when Fellows dominated in his NEMCO Motorsports Chevy at Watkins Glen on Saturday, nobody was surprised.

In fact, nobody was surprised to see other part-time Busch drivers – road-course specialists such as Robby Gordon, Boris Said and pole winner Scott Pruett – run at the front of the pack nearly all day.

Perhaps the only surprise Saturday was that Busch Series regulars Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick were able to stay with the group and run up front on the 2.45-mile course.

Following Fellows under the checkered flag in the circuit’s 18th event of the season – and rounding out the Top 10 - were Biffle, Harvick, Said, Gordon, Elton Sawyer, Lyndon Amick, Pruett, Jason Keller and Winston Cup regular Ron Hornaday.

“We just had a great race car,” Fellows said. “That was the hardest Busch race I’ve ever run and there are a lot of talented drivers in this series.”

Fellows, a SCCA Trans-Am Series star who also has a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win at The Glen (1997), wasn’t ever seriously challenged to be passed on the track, but lost the lead a few times during green and yellow-flag pit stops.

“It’s never easy to win a NASCAR event,” said Fellows’ crew chief Brian Pattie. “But we brought in a brand-new car and I told Ron it was good. He believed me… and it was.”

Biffle, who is second in points (102 behind Harvick), is a rookie in the Busch Series, but not on road courses. Biffle won the NCTS event at Watkins Glen last season – after winning the pole for that race – and also has a NCTS road-course win at Portland.

“We had to burn up the brakes to catch up with Fellows,” Biffle said. “When we got up to him there at the end, we just didn’t have what we needed left to catch him.”

Pruett, a CART veteran with one year of Winston Cup experience and driving in the No. 71 Ford owned by Kevin Lepage, gave Fellows a battle early on, but by Lap 20 Fellows, Biffle, Said and Gordon were showing they had the cars to beat.

A caution, for a spin near pit road by Gordon 50 Laps in, pushed Gordon to the back of the lead lap (20th) in his Richard Childress Racing No. 21 and bunched up the leaders. Fellows, though, pulled away from everyone on the restart.

That caution was very advantageous to points leader Harvick, who wound up near the front (third) because he was on a different pitting sequence than all of the other drivers.

When another caution came out with 20 laps remaining, Fellows held the lead, followed by Said, Harvick, Sawyer, Keller and Amick. Biffle would take the restart on Lap 61 in 10th.

On the restart, Fellows – again - looked like a man racing against boys, and pulled away to a huge lead (more than three seconds).

To Fellow’s displeasure, though, another caution was waved with 14 laps remaining, again bunching the field behind the road-course veteran.

Before the caution, Biffle moved all the way up to third, and would take the restart there behind Fellows and his rival Harvick.

On the restart, Harvick got a jump on Fellows and took the lead after the first turn, but Fellows took it right back one turn later.

The battle for second, between Biffle and Harvick, didn’t last long as Biffle went by Harvick one lap after the restart. He then set his sites on Fellows with just 10 laps to go.

Before long, that two-car battle for the win became a little run in the country for Fellows, as he opened up his lead each lap before the checkers flew.

The win was Fellows’ third in the past four Busch events at Watkins Glen, and Biffle earned his eighth top-five finish in 18 races.

It was a rough day for defending Busch Series champion Jeff Green, who had a tire rub cause smoke that NASCAR thought was an engine problem. NASCAR black-flagged Green, who was then forced to play catch-up.

Unfortunately for Green, a bad day got worse with just more than 20 laps remaining when the engine gave way on his No. 10 Ford.

Green was on of the Busch regulars not too happy to see the road-course specialists come in and win.

“If you’re not in the points race and your only goal is to win the race, then it makes some sense to hire a road racer,” said Green, who would wind up 31st on Sunday. “However, this not the case for our team. We’re in it for the points. I wish everyone could be in the same boat where everyone is running for points and then we see who is the best road-course racer of the Busch regulars.”

The Busch Series returns to action next Saturday in its inaugural event at the new Chicagoland Speedway.

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