The NASCAR Cup Series heads north to the Seneca Lake region of western New York this weekend for its fifth road course race of the year. The Go Bowling at The Glen marks the penultimate race of the regular season as drivers look to position themselves for a spot on the playoff grid.
This 2.45-mile, seven-turn road course produces one of the shortest Cup races each year: just two hours, 15 minutes or so for a 90-lap event. Drivers zip around this place at just over 70 seconds, long straightaways leading to sharp turns and ample passing opportunities. The most popular places to get by someone tend to be turn 1, following a long front straightaway, and the “bus stop” chicane which was added to the track in 1992 to help slow the cars down.
Points leader Chase Elliott won the pole at Watkins Glen Saturday, continuing his recent history of dominance at the track. Since earning his first Cup Series victory here in 2018, Elliott’s tacked on another one, plus a runner-up finish last year to Kyle Larson while leading 132 of a possible 270 laps. His seven career road course wins are the most of any active driver on this track type.
Thirty-nine teams in all attempted the Watkins Glen race, leaving the field one short of a full 40-car grid. It’s the highest number of cars that have attempted to qualify since Talladega Superspeedway back in April. Three “open” cars who are not guaranteed a starting spot decided to show up: Team Hezeberg’s No. 26 (Daniil Kyvat) and No. 27 (Loris Hezemans) along the No. 91 (Kimi Raikkonen) from Trackhouse Racing Team.
1. Chase Elliott
2. Kyle Larson
3. Michael McDowell
4. William Byron
5. Tyler Reddick
6. AJ Allmendinger (i)
7. Chris Buescher
8. Austin Cindric (R)
9. Daniel Suarez
10. Kyle Busch
11. Alex Bowman
12. Austin Dillon
13. Justin Haley
14. Chase Briscoe
15. Brad Keselowski
16. Ty Gibbs (i)
17. Joey Hand
18. Ross Chastain
19. Todd Gilliland (R)
20. Joey Logano
21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
22. Denny Hamlin
23. Bubba Wallace
24. Kevin Harvick
25. Martin Truex Jr.
26. Ryan Blaney
27. Kimi Raikkonen
28. Ty Dillon
29. Cole Custer
30. Harrison Burton (R)
31. Erik Jones
32. Corey LaJoie
33. Mike Rockenfeller
34. Loris Hezemans (i)
35. Aric Almirola
36. Daniil Kyvat
37. Kyle Tlley
38. Christopher Bell
39. Cody Ware
(R) – Rookie
(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points
- Chase Elliott (first) earned his third pole of the season and became the highest-qualifying Chevrolet driver. He won this race from the pole back in 2019.
- Kyle Larson (second) is this race’s defending winner. Larson hasn’t won a Cup race since Auto Club Speedway back in February.
- Michael McDowell (third) earned his best starting spot of the season and is the highest-qualifying Ford driver. He’s seeking his first Cup win of 2022 and the playoff bid that goes with it.
- Tyler Reddick (fifth) has won the last two Cup road course races.
- AJ Allmendinger (sixth) replaces Noah Gragson behind the wheel of the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. Allmendinger runs the road course events for the team.
- Austin Cindric (eighth) was the highest-qualifying rookie.
- Kyle Busch (10th) was the lone Toyota driver to qualify inside the top 10.
- Ty Gibbs (16th) remains in the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota in place of an injured Kurt Busch. Gibbs will continue filling in through the end of the regular season next week at Daytona.
- Joey Hand (17th) replaces JJ Yeley this week in the Rick Ware Racing No. 15 Ford. Hand runs the road course races for the team while serving as a driver consultant within the Blue Oval camp.
- Kevin Harvick (24th) is seeking his first three-race win streak in Cup since 2018.
- Kimi Raikkonen (27th) is making his Cup Series debut in a new, third TRT No. 91 Chevrolet created to attract international talent. The 42-year-old Finnish Formula 1 champion had retired from the F1 circuit following the 2021 season; he’s now turned his attention to at least a limited schedule in stock car racing.
- Mike Rockenfeller (33rd) will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut, replacing Landon Cassill in the Spire Motorsports No. 77. The 38-year-old Rockenfeller, from Germany, is an Audi factory driver and former two-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
- Loris Hezemans (34th) returns to NASCAR to make his fourth start behind the wheel of the Team Hezeberg Toyota. He’s failed to finish his first three races running the No. 27.
- Daniil Kyvat (36th) returns for his second start with the No. 26 Team Hezeberg Toyota. He was 36th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in his debut after experiencing suspension problems.
- Kyle Tilley (37th) replaces owner BJ McLeod behind the wheel of the No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports Ford. Tilley is running a handful of road courses for the team.
- Christopher Bell (38th) has his worst starting spot of the season, just the second outside the top 30 for the No. 20 Toyota this year.
NASCAR Race Breakdown
Race: Go Bowling at The Glen
Track: Watkins Glen International (Watkins Glen, N.Y.)
Date: Sunday, Aug. 21
TV: USA Network, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 90 laps (220.5 miles)
Stage 1: 20 Laps
Stage 2: 20 Laps
Stage 3: 50 Laps
Dylan “Mamba” Smith stops by The Frontstretch Podcast with Bryan Nolen this week to chat about his growing stock car driving career along with his longtime friendship with Kevin Harvick. Then, Nolen and Stephen Stumpf turn their attention to Harvick’s chances at Watkins Glen. Can the 2014 Cup champion win his third race in a row? Or will someone else break through at the road course?