Photo: Justin R. Noe/ASP, Inc.

Up to Speed: Go Bowling at The Glen Preview

By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor

After a trip to Pocono last weekend that saw Kyle Busch score his sixth win of the season, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series stays in the Northeast as they go road course racing this weekend in Sunday’s Go Bowling at The Glen.

The Cup Series raced at Watkins Glen in 1957, 1964, and 1965 before returning to the track full-time in 1986, utilizing the “short course” layout initially, but after a series of violent crashes at the end of the long back straightaway, the track underwent changes with the addition of the “Inner Loop” in 1992. The series has raced in the seven-turn, 2.45 mile configuration ever since.

As one of three road courses on the MENCS schedule, Watkins Glen races completely different than Sonoma Raceway, as Watkins Glen is known for more brute speed down the long straightaways and through the turns while Sonoma is much more technical. Over the past few years, racing at Watkins Glen has put on some of the most exciting on the circuit with battles all the way down to the finish becoming the norm.

Just like at Pocono, this weekend will also be another two day show for the Cup Series with practice and qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday. While qualifying will be on Saturday evening, post-qualifying inspection won’t be held until Sunday morning before the race to keep inspectors and teams from having to stay at the track late until the night. As a result, the official lineup will not be set until the final hours before the race goes green.

By The Numbers

What: Go Bowling at The Glen, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race No. 22 of 36

Where: Watkins Glen International – Watkins Glen, New York (Opened: 1956)

When: August 5, 2018

TV/Radio: NBC, 3:00 pm ET / MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Channel 90

Track Size:  2.45 mile, seven-turn road course

Race Length: 90 laps, 220.5 miles

Stage Lengths: First two stages – 20 laps, Final stage – 50 laps

2017 Race Winner:  Martin Truex Jr. – No. 78 Toyota (Started third – 24 laps led)

Track Qualifying Record: Jeff Gordon – 68.126 seconds – 129.466 mph – 8/10/2014

Top-10 Highest Driver Ratings at Watkins Glen:

  1. Daniel Suarez – No. 19 Toyota – 113.1
  2. Kyle Busch – No. 18 Toyota – 110.7
  3. Brad Keselowski – No. 2 Ford – 102.8
  4. AJ Allmendinger – No. 47 Chevrolet – 97.1
  5. Martin Truex Jr. – No. 78 Toyota – 95.8
  6. Kurt Busch – No. 41 Ford – 93.4
  7. Jimmie Johnson – No. 48 Chevrolet – 93.0
  8. Erik Jones – No. 20 Toyota – 92.2
  9. Chase Elliott – No. 9 Chevrolet – 91.5
  10. Kevin Harvick – No. 4 Ford – 89.7

From the Driver’s Seat

“Watkins Glen is like the superspeedway of road courses,” said AJ Allmendinger. “There are such long straightaways that you’re able to pick up some speed on, and then you really have to make sure you get into the corners right to be able to keep that speed and momentum up. There are a couple of passing opportunities. Fuel mileage always plays a key factor in that race.

“The bus stop is always somewhat challenging. Through the bus stop and the end of the carousel is where you can make up a lot of time. I’ve had races where my car hasn’t been great through the bus stop, but I’ve been able to make that back up through the carousel. Every turn is important at Watkins Glen because there are so few compared to Sonoma, but you also need to have the aerodynamics for the straightaways.”

Last Time at Watkins Glen

Trusting the instincts of his crew chief Cole Pearn, Martin Truex, Jr. played the fuel strategy game to perfection the last time the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rolled into Watkins Glen, scoring his first win at the New York road course.

After making his final pit stop, Truex inherited the lead, but while in fuel saving mode, allowed both Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney to pass him, banking on both having to make another pit stop before the checkered flag flew. The closing laps of the race went exactly to plan as Keselowski was forced to pit at lap 87 and Blaney did the same a lap later.

Back in the lead with two laps to go, all Truex had to do was hold off a hard-charging Matt Kenseth for the win and did so, streaking across the finish line almost half a second ahead of Kenseth to claim the victory.

Daniel Suarez finished third, followed by Denny Hamlin in fourth, and Clint Bowyer rounding out the top-five.

“I’m a little bit lost for words at the moment just because I’ve been thinking about this one a long time – all weekend, all day,” said Truex. “Then, at the end there just it’s so hard there to let guys pass you for the lead. You’ve just got to listen to your crew chief and luckily for me I’ve got the best one in the business and I just believe in him so much and I just do what he says and it seems to work out.

“It means a lot to be in victory lane here at this race track. I’ve been coming here a long time and feel like we’ve been close and had a few slip away from us, but really excited. Great to see an awesome turnout here today with the fans and the sellout. Such a unique and great part of the country. This weather is amazing. We love coming up here to race. Pretty cool to check this one off the box as far as road courses. Everybody wants to win at these places so to get this one is special.”

Weekend Schedule (All Times Eastern)

Saturday, August 4

  • MENCS Practice (10:05 am to 11:20 am – NBC Sports Network)
  • MENCS Final Practice (1:00 pm to 2:15 pm – NBC Sports Network)
  • MENCS Qualifying (6:35 pm – NBC Sports Network)

Sunday, August 5

  • MENCS Go Bowling at The Glen (3:00 pm – 90 laps, 220.5 miles – NBC)

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.