The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will make both left and right hand turns for the second and final time of the season. The same batch of suspects will be the favorites as road racing is tough on a lot of drivers.
Last week, Jeff Gordon finally broke into the victory column and with Kyle Busch's recent troubles, Gordon took one of the wildcard spots from him. With Gordon and Busch both being good here did they make my start 'em list?
Many of the top guys in the points also struggle here with none of the top five sporting strong records. This could be the week guys outside the top 10 make gains at getting a secured spot.
Marcos Ambrose could make the wildcard for the Chase very interesting. He's one of the best drivers at Watkins Glen and with a win here Sunday and another win before the Chase he could be in.
This is obviously Ambrose's best track as he has an average finish of 2.25 in four race's. Hes finished in the top five in all four tries to go along with his lone Sprint Cup Series victory.
With finishing in the top five in all four races he'd be my top pick on Sunday.
Juan Pablo Montoya
Montoya has had a difficult season to say the least. He's a world class driver and has competed with success on many difficult tracks around the world. For some reason this year, he can't seem to figure out the tracks. He's been disappointing.
It looked like last week he had it fixed. He earned his first pole of the season and had a good-looking car. Unfortunately, that didn't last long in the race as he fell to mid-pack.
Maybe this weekend will be Montoya's time to shine. If there's going to be a track for him to break out, it's this one. Many drivers struggle here so he should be a lock come Sunday for at least a top-10. In his five races at the Glen, Montoya has four top-10's and two top-fives. He's also been to victory lane here.
Watkins Glen is statistically Montoya's best track and with an 11.4 average finish, so don't be surprised to see the red No. 42 near the front Sunday.
Gordon has had arguably the best cars all season. He just had terrible luck for the first few months that put him in a deep hole. Since the All-Star break, he's been in the top 10 every weekend with good chances of winning. He had a strong car at Indy and failed to win but still finished fifth. Last week, the breaks fell to his side as he finally won and could make the Chase with top-fives from here on out.
I think Gordon can absolutely win though on Sunday. He's been to Watkins Glen 19 times and won four of the races. He also has six top-fives and nine top-10's to his credit as well. Gordon has led 233 laps around the course so he knows how to find his way up front.
Look for Gordon to be around the top five all day with a shot to win at the end.
Tony Stewart is good everywhere and with his success at Indy you would think that's his best track. Actually, it's not as Watkins Glen is statistically Smoke's best track the Cup visits.
Stewart, has 13 starts here with five wins, seven top-fives and 10 top-10's. If it seems like either Gordon and Stewart always win here and it's not far from the truth. He's led 225 career laps at the Glen and has a 7.1 average finish in his 13 races.
With having three wins this year already, I wouldn't bet against Stewart on Sunday.
Kyle Busch has struggled basically all season as his lone win came all the way back in April. He lost the second wild card spot to Jeff Gordon last week and needs a good run to stay in the hunt. I think Busch can turn it back around on Sunday.
Busch has one win, three top-fives and six top-10's in seven starts at the Glen. Only once has he finished outside the top 10. Watkins Glen is the third best track for Busch so he's comfortable here.
His average finish of 9.3 puts him near the top in that category as he has also led 116 laps.
Matt Kenseth has had a disappointing two weeks. He lost the points lead in Indy after getting caught up in a wreck and after Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s struggles in Pocono, Kenseth was caught up once again in a wreck while battling for the lead on the final restart before the rain. Look for the Wisconsin native's struggles to continue for a third straight race.
Road racing isn't one of Kenseth's strong suits. In his 12 starts at Watkins Glen he only has three top-10's and zero top-fives. He basically just stays out of everyone's way and hopes to salvage a good finish at the end of the race off of other guys' misfortunes.
Don't expect Kenseth to finish near the front on Sunday.
Ryan Newman is starting to heat back up, but it's almost too little too late. After winning at Martinsville in April he was in the top 10 and looked to be a championship contender. But from there to the end of June at Kentucky he only had one top-10 finish, dropping him outside the top 10 and too far behind for a wild card spot. Now, he's finished in the top 10 for four straight races, but unless he gets to victory circle it will likely be too little too late.
Don't expect Newman to win on Sunday.
Newman has made 10 starts at the Glen and has only one top-five and three top-10's. He's finished 20th or worse four times and has a dismal 16.3 average finish. I don't like the No. 39's odds on Sunday.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
This won't make Junior nation happy, but don't expect him to be up front this weekend. Luckily, many of the other contenders stuggle here so he shouldn't lose the points lead.
Junior has made 12 starts here and has only cracked the top 10 three times. His 22.3 average finish makes Watkins Glen his second worst statistical track with only Homestead being worse.
Don't expect Junior to risk anything but to just ride around and hope others wreck each other out and allow him to move up spots that way.
Kahne is the second Hendrick driver on this list. After Hendrick has been dominating the schedule since Darlington, two of their drivers this weekend shouldn't contend.
Kahne should be in the Chase comfortably and that's good since in his eight starts on the road course he has zero top-10's. In fact he's never even led a lap here. If you count in Sonoma Kahne has 17 road race starts and only has two top-10's.
He has an average finish of 19.1 at the Glen so don't expect Kahne to finish much higher than 15th at best.
Biffle is the third driver in the top five of points that I'd stay away from. For the most part, this late in the season that's unusual, but we're talking a road course and there's no way I'd touch them. Biffle has nine starts here with just one top-five and two top-10's.
This is statistically Biffle's worst track as he's finished worse than 20th seven times.
Biffle is high enough in the standings where a bad finish won't hurt him, and don't expect the Biff to finish well on Sunday.
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