2018 NASCAR Preview: Week 22 – Watkins Glen

Road course action from New York’s only track..

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The traditional second road course race on the schedule belongs to Watkins Glen, a 7-turn, 2.45-mile track that New York can call its own.  There was talk years ago of one being built in the NYC area, but for now there’s just the one in wine country.  And today, we Go Bowling at The Glen!

Here’s what to look for:

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Denny Hamlin will start on the pole in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (Photo Credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Denny Hamlin captured the Pole in Saturday’s Qualifying session, launching from the front of the field.  This isn’t one of his best tracks (just a 17.7 average finish), but his last two runs respectively were a 4th in 2017, and a win in 2016.  Before that, nothing good (unless you’re counting 2009 and prior).

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Kyle Busch is driving the M&M’s “Crunchy Mint” car today, and hopes to be just that — mint! (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge | Getty Images)

Kyle Busch will start next to his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate.  He has the second best average finish here (9.8), and is his third most successful by the same measure.  With the exception of his very first race here (2005, 33rd), and one in 2014 (40th), the #18 pilot has never finished outside the Top 8.  Say what?  Thirteen runs, eleven Top 10s.  Wow.

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AJ Allmendinger focuses in the JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47 Chevrolet ahead of first practice at Watkins Glen International. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge | Getty Images)

A.J. Allmendinger has been the guy with the best crack at a road course victory for a few years now, a 9.3 average finish.  Just one win, but six Top 10s in nine starts.  He rolls off 8th.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series I Love NY 355 at The Glen

WATKINS GLEN, NY – AUGUST 06: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series I Love NY 355 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 6, 2017 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Martin Truex Jr. took this one home last year (one of eight wins), leading 24 of 90 laps.  He’s got a solid average here, too, 12.1 and fourth among active drivers.  He’ll start 4th, too.

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Shocking surprise: Brad Keselowski’s average finish in eight career races at Watkins Glen? It’s 10.8 — and that includes an outlier finish of 35th in 2014. The Team Penske driver has excelled at the road course and once strung together three straight runner-up finishes … so it was a bit strange to … Read More (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky | Getty Images)

Brad Keselowski has the third best average finish among active drivers, a 10.8, his second best track, too.  Some memorable runs here for Keselowski in previous years, three straight 2nd place finishes.  Two of his last three were 7th or better, though 2017 yielded a 15th.  Trying real hard to get to the race today, wouldn’t mind seeing he and Kyle Busch bang fenders again for the entirety of the final lap.  It was incredible.

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Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series I Love NY 355 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 6, 2017 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Aug. 5, 2017 – Source: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images North America)


Coverage of the race starts on NBC at 2:30pm, green flag scheduled for 2:48pm.

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