Watkins Glen International in the second and final road course track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. The first, Infineon Raceway, is a more technical track and requires more finesse to get around. The straightaways at The Glen allow for more speed and passing zones. Last year, the track made several improvements to the track that will cut down on the number of caution laps. The gravel traps and grass areas were replaced with paved runoff areas allowing wayward cars to get back on track far more easily without holding up the action.
Location: Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Shape: Road course
Length: 2.45 miles
Drivers to keep an eye on
Carl Edwards | No. 99 Scott's Ortho Ford | Roush Fenway Racing
A year ago at The Glen, Edwards qualified on the pole but did not lead a lap. However, the current points leader held a career-best average running position of fifth to record his fifth straight top-10 at the site. Earlier in the season at Sonoma, Edwards finished a career-best third despite starting back in 23rd. Regardless of where he qualifies, Edwards has proven capable of a strong performance on any road course.
Kurt Busch | No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge | Penske Championship Racing
After crushing the field back in late June at Sonoma, where he led 76 of 110 laps, the elder Busch brother is sure to be a popular start this week. His history at The Glen should only add to the hype. Busch finished as the runner-up a year ago while posting a career-best average running position of fifth. In fact, his finish has improved in each of the last five starts at The Glen. If the trend continues, he'll sweep the road course races this season, something his younger brother did in 2008.
Kyle Busch | No. 18 M&M's Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing
Since 2006, the younger Busch brother has five straight top-10s at The Glen, including the aforementioned win. Over the last eight races this season, Rowdy has five top-fives, including his third checkered flag. That includes an 11th-place result from Sonoma. Even though he wasn't at his best that day, Busch is bringing it on a consistent basis and one of the few drivers that could squash big brother's plans of a road course monopoly.
Tony Stewart | No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet | Stewart-Haas Racing
When it comes to Stewart's performance at The Glen, the numbers really do speak of themselves. Since 2002, he's won five of nine with two runner-up performances. In a dozen career starts, Stewart has only finished worse than seventh on two occasions. Since loop data was introduced in 2005, his average running position of 4.7 easily leads all drivers. Stewart enters with five consecutive top-12 finishes on the year, but it almost doesn't matter given his sterling resume here.
A.J. Allmendinger | No. 43 Best Buy Ford | Richard Petty Motorsports
At Sonoma, Allmendinger finished 13th with a career-best average running position of 12th. That in combination with his impressive run at The Glen a year ago makes The Dinger a solid sleeper selection. After qualifying on the second row, Allmendinger held serve with an average running position of fourth and spent the entire race running in the top 15. In three career starts, Allmendinger owns an average finish of 9.3, never finishing worse than 13th.
Juan Pablo Montoya | No. 42 Target Chevrolet | Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing
A year ago at The Glen, Montoya absolutely dominated. After qualifying third, he led 74 of 90 laps with an average running position of first while never dropping below ninth at any point in the race. Earlier in the season at Sonoma, Montoya ended with a disappointing 22nd-place finish. After running well for much of the day, JPM got aggressive at the end of the race and paid the price. He's finished sixth or better in three straight at The Glen and should be very much in mix, despite carrying some risk given his knack for on-track theatrics.
Martin Truex Jr. | No. 56 NAPA Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing
After recording a career-best finish of eighth earlier this season at Sonoma, there's some hope Truex can carry some of that success to The Glen. In three of the last four races at the site, he's notched a top-15 finish while holding an average running position of 19th or better in all of them. Truex is a very up and down driver so monitor his speeds in the practice sessions before making a final commitment.
Marcos Ambrose | No. 9 Stanley Ford | Richard Petty Motorsports
In three career starts at The Glen, Ambrose has finished no worse than third while showing signs of improvement along the way. His average running position has gone from 17th in 2008 when he started in the rear of the field to 10th in 2009 and finally a career-best third last year. In addition, 2010 marked the first time Ambrose spent every lap running in the top 15 at The Glen. The Australian finished fifth earlier in the season at Sonoma and is always a safe play when it comes to turning right.
Temper your expectations
Robby Gordon | No. 7 Speed Energy Dodge | Robby Gordon Motorsports
In addition to winning at The Glen in 2003, Gordon has a total of seven top-five finishes in a dozen career starts. However, he's yet to finish better than 18th over the last three. At Sonoma, Gordon finished 18th with an average running position of only 25th. Thanks to clever pit strategy, Gordon has been able to craft good finishes on a road course despite lacking speed. That might be his only chance to make something happen this week.
Boris Said | No. 51 Thank a Teacher Today Chevrolet | Phoenix Racing
Despite being the most well-known of the road course ringers, Said has only managed an average finish of 24.6 in 10 career starts at The Glen. Since 2006, his best finish is 14th. The issue for Said is the second-tier or third-tier equipment he's typically driving and the lack of respect the Cup regulars show him on the track. With so many hungry drivers looking for a spot in the Chase, Said could find himself wrecked for the second straight year at The Glen.
Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a two-time award finalist. He's also made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts.