WATKINS GLEN — For the second time in his long motorsports media communications/marketing career, Akron native Tim Packman has returned to the environment of NASCAR national series racing. He’s making the most of it.
Packman was in the media center Friday morning as part of his job as the Director of Corporate Communications for Richard Childress Racing (RCR). That organization has teams competing this weekend in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at The Glen as well as today’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Zippo 200.
After going south in 2000 where he worked in various tasks within NASCAR’s ranks, Packman returned to Western New York last season to serve as the president of stock car operations for the track in Lancaster now known as Elegant Builders Raceway Park.
He landed the job with RCR this past February, initially serving in RCR’s media department. Three months ago he was promoted to his current position.
“I oversee all of the RCR corporate matters and am involved with social media, the website and also have a very personal involvement with Richard Childress in whatever he needs assistance with,” said Packman. “Richard is a great guy and it’s been a very good learning experience working with him. I see why he has been very successful.”
Marcos Ambrose came to The Glen this weekend seeking his third straight Cup Series victory here.
“We haven’t tested here and a lot of other teams did, so I’m a little cautious. We will have to be on our toes,” said Ambrose who drives the Richard Petty Motorsport (RPM) No. 9 Ford. “The new Gen-6 car, we anticipate will be fast around here. It’s got more down force and that should help us especially through two, three and four and it will probably help us everywhere. So I think your going to see fast speeds and we’re certainly going to have a different setup on the car than what we had last year.”
The last Cup Series driver to post three consecutive triumphs at The Glen occurred when Jeff Gordon did it in 1997-99. Mark Martin also captured three straight Cup races here from 1993-95. Ambrose did win a trio of consecutive Nationwide Series races here spanning 2008-2010.
Earlier this season Max Papis may have been wondering what he might be doing on the weekend of the NASCAR activity as Watkins Glen. He probably never dreamed he would wind up taking over the seat of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) Chevrolet normally driven by five-time Watkins Glen Cup Series victor Tony Stewart. Papis is replacing Stewart at The Glen this weekend after Stewart broke his leg in a racing accident last Monday in Iowa.
“It’s just an honor to be called by an organization like Stewart-Haas and fill the shoes of Tony,” said Papis, who has extensive road racing experience. “It was not really a dream come true but it was more like recognition of all the work I’ve done so far in my career. I feel that I have a lot of confidence to go out there and give them solid results.”
Geoff Bodine cut his racing teeth locally by mostly racing asphalt Modifieds before making the leap to NASCAR’s upper tiers of racing. Part of his early years racing resume included Modified stops at Lancaster (EBRP) and Holland speedways.
On Friday, Bodine, a Chemung native, was inducted into the 2013 class of The Legends of The Glen. During his induction speech, he referenced retired Modified driver Merv Treichler who still resides in Sanborn. “I remember I was leading a Modified race here one time and I blew the engine and Merv Treichler, who was a very good racer, ended up winning the race,” he said. Bodine was victorious at the Cup Series race here in 1996.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was here Friday morning, taking a few laps around The Glen’s road course in his own personal 1975 Corvette.
“There will be about 100,000 people here this weekend of which about 75 percent will be from out of state,” said Cuomo of the tourism impact here.
In conjunction with Cuomo’s visit to The Glen Friday, Hamburg native and WGI president Michael Printup announced that The Glen along with its parent company International Speedway Corporation will be involved in a national public service announcement campaign designed to educate the public on the dangers of distracted driving, particularly citing texting and cell phone use.
The Glen proved to be a soggy place much of the day Friday. The first Cup practice scheduled for noon was rain delayed until 3:15. Martin Truex Jr., was fastest in the first Cup practice session with a lap of 69.319 seconds at 127.238 mph. Carl Edwards was best in the second Cup practice hitting 68.693 at 128.397. Sam Hornish Jr., was tops in the lone Nationwide Series practice period running 72.009 at 122.485.
Today’s schedule here calls for Nationwide Series qualifying to go green at 9:35 a.m. followed by Cup Series qualifying at 11:40. This year the Cup Series qualifying will feature drivers going out on the track to qualify in groups rather then the traditional single car system. The groups will be divided based on the number of cars that practice and final practice speeds.
The 82-lap Zippo 200 will commence at 2:15 p.m., today.