Watkins Glen, NY – Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Sunday, mile, 11-turn road course. Start time: 1:00 p.m. (et). Laps: 90. Miles: 220.5. 2010 Winner: Juan Pablo Montoya. Television: ESPN. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Satellite.
The Sprint Cup Series will run its second and final road course race of the season this weekend at Watkins Glen International in Upstate New York. The series competed at the Sonoma, CA course in June.
Watkins Glen will be more of a challenge for last Sunday's Pocono race winner Brad Keselowski, who continues to heal from a broken left ankle he suffered during a crash while testing last week at Road Atlanta. Keselowski will have to endure a lot more braking at Watkins Glen compared to Pocono.
"If there is a silver lining to the wreck at Road Atlanta, it's that we weren't testing our primary car for Watkins Glen," he said. "It's still in one piece, and it's the same car that we finished inside the top-10 with at Sonoma. It will still be uncomfortable in the car this weekend, but I'll have to man up one more time, because we don't have time to let injuries get in the way of making the Chase."
With five races to go before the Chase begins, Keselowski holds the first wild card position and Denny Hamlin occupies the second spot.
Hamlin is currently 11th in points but has one win so far this season, which came in June at Michigan. He trails 10th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 23 points.
"I think this weekend's race will be crazy for a lot of reasons," Hamlin said. "Many of the guys outside the top-10 will be looking to do anything to get that first or second win. The road course guys will be in the mix and battling, and the guys at the back half of the top-10 will try to avoid the madness and get a good finish. As we saw in Sonoma earlier this year, guys drive very aggressive on these road courses, and with the new 'wild card' format for the Chase, anything is possible."
Tony Stewart is the road course ace at Watkins Glen, winning a record five times at this track. Stewart had finished either first or second in six consecutive races here until his seventh-place run in 2010.
Stewart is now ninth in points. just one marker ahead of Earnhardt Jr. Both Stewart and Earnhardt Jr. have yet to win this season.
"We are kind of in the that weird spot in the points where we are trying to make it in on what we've got and not have to not rely on that wild card spot," Stewart said. "If you finish 11th in points and you didn't get one of those wild card spots, you'd say it hurt you. Hopefully, we'll get in on our points and won't have to worry about it."
Juan Pablo Montoya won last year's race at Watkins Glen. Montoya put on a dominating performance by leading 74 of 90 laps. He finished sixth here in 2009 and fourth the year prior.
"The Glen is a road course that really fits my driving style," he said. "The problem with the Glen is with those restarts the way turn one is. You can win it, or they can take you out on the last restart, and you finish 20th."
Montoya's two wins so far in Sprint Cup have come on road courses. His first victory came at Sonoma during his 2007 rookie season. Montoya comes to Watkins Glen ranked 21st in points.
Marcos Ambrose is another driver who has performed very well at Watkins Glen. Ambrose, 23rd in points, has finished second or third in his three Sprint Cup races at this track. He has won the last three Nationwide Series events here as well.
Forty-six teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen.