Watch:

From The Marbles

Watkins Glen: The place where Allmendinger and Ambrose's Chase chances teeter

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles
GoBowling.com 400 - Practice
.

View photo

LONG POND, PA - AUGUST 01: Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 DeWalt Tools Ford, on track during Practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 1, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

It's go time for A.J. Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose.

If either driver wants to make the Chase, they need to get to victory lane at Watkins Glen on Sunday. With four other races to go before the Chase, it may seem like a rash statement. It's not.

While each driver has had good runs at times on oval tracks, neither is a threat to win every week. And neither will likely be a threat to win barring some crazy fuel mileage or other circumstances over the next four weeks. With the road racing background of each driver, their time to win is now.

During Friday's first practice, Allmendinger had the fourth-fastest lap. Ambrose was fifth.

"The first thing I thought about was, 'I hope I win before Watkins Glen so I can take some pressure off it,' " Ambrose told USA Today on Wednesday. "This week is building up to be one of those weeks where the expectations are high."

And deservedly so. Ambrose won at Watkins Glen in 2011 and 2012. Last year he had a good car too, but had something go wrong and was involved in a big crash in the esses.

The winner of the 2013 race? Kyle Busch. He said he didn't view Watkins Glen as any different from other races leading to the Chase even if it may be the best shot for drivers like Allmendinger and Ambrose to get in.

"Yeah, I don't think it's any different than any other week, Busch said Friday. "I don't think that you go to Bristol and have a guy that needs a win there, if they're not going to do anything there versus here. So, I just think that you've got to be conscious of all of that. You've got to know who you're racing and what they're racing for and just keep all of that in the back of your mind and do what you can in order to try to win the race for yourself and your team. But, past that obviously you're going to know that some people might do some desperate things."

Busch would have experience in defending the lead against a Chase-needy driver too. While en route to the win last season, Busch had to fend off Brad Keselowski, a driver who he's had a tumultuous on-track relationship with. While the Chase circumstances were different last year, a win would have boosted Keselowski's Chase chances immensely. On the final lap he chose not to use his front bumper to move Busch out of the way. (In 2012, Keselowski and Busch made contact during a wild and oil-slicked final lap.)

Of course, Keselowski's precedent isn't guaranteed to hold. We could see a driver move another out of the way for the win, especially if there's a late race restart. Or, we may not. After a relatively uneventful finish to June's race at Sonoma, there won't be many people disappointed with a frantic finish.

- - - - - - -

Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

View Comments (9)
  • Russia's Putin congratulates FIFA head Sepp Blatter on re-election

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a telegram to FIFA President Sepp Blatter congratulating him on his re-election, the Kremlin said on Saturday. Russia was interested in co-operating with FIFA in general and in particular in preparation for … More »

    Reuters - 7 minutes ago
  • FIFA's Blatter faces division and suspicion as fifth term begins

    FIFA's Blatter faces division and suspicion as fifth term begins

    By Brian Homewood ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA President Sepp Blatter began his fifth term at the helm of soccer's governing body on Saturday facing the daunting task of restoring public faith in an organization tainted by allegations of corruption and … More »

    Reuters - 20 minutes ago
  • FIFA's Blatter faces division and suspicion as 5th term begins

    FIFA's Blatter faces division and suspicion as 5th term begins

    By Brian Homewood ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA President Sepp Blatter began his fifth term at the helm of soccer's governing body on Saturday facing the daunting task of restoring public faith in an organisation tainted by allegations of corruption and … More »

    Reuters - 30 minutes ago
  • Farah surges to year's fastest 10,000 metres

    Farah surges to year's fastest 10,000 metres

    Olympic and world champion Mo Farah kept his four-year winning streak over 10,000 metres intact in running the year's fastest time of 26 minutes, 50.97 seconds at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting on Friday. Briton Farah, challenged by … More »

    Reuters - 40 minutes ago
  • Sharks take bite out of Rebels’ cause

    South Africa’s Sharks provided a knockout blow to the Melbourne Rebel’s Super Rugby playoff hopes with a 25-21 victory at King’s Park on Friday. The Rebels, who played for 52 minutes with 14 men after a red card for prop Laurie Weeks, have 31 … More »

    Reuters - 53 minutes ago