The NASCAR Cup Series returns to Watkins Glen International this weekend for their first race at the track since 2019. The Go Bowling at The Glen is a 90-lap sprint, one of the shortest on the schedule as drivers tackle this 2.45-mile road course.
The Glen has been a mainstay since 1986, the first road course added in the modern era to pair with now-defunct Riverside International Raceway. The course is known for its long, fast main straightaway that leads into a tight braking zone entering turn 1. It’s where we’ve seen some of the sport’s more spectacular crashes as drivers have struggled through stuck throttles or make contact while trying to downshift.
Chase Elliott has dominated this race his past two starts after winning his first career Cup event back in 2018. Other recent winners include Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and Team Penske’s Joey Logano.
In trying to stop the spread of COVID-19, NASCAR is continuing to limit at-track time during the pandemic. That means qualifying for this race was canceled, the lineup set using a special qualifying metric outlined below.
50% of the metric is based on finishing position from the previous race (split between driver and owner).
35% of the metric is the team’s current position in the NASCAR Cup Series owner point standings.
15% of the metric is based on the team’s fastest lap during the previous race.
The team with the lowest total starts on the pole, then the next lowest, etc. until all available spots are filled. It’s the best compromise NASCAR could make while attempting to limit each team’s at-track time and respecting COVID-19 restrictions still in place. It also means the first time these drivers will turn a lap on track is when they take the green flag Sunday afternoon.
Only 37 cars entered the race at Watkins Glen, leaving the 40-car grid three short. It’s tied for the smallest field of the season, as only the 36 teams who have guaranteed spots are entered along with the “open” car of JTG Daugherty Racing (Ryan Preece, No. 37).
1. Brad Keselowski
2. Joey Logano
3. Ryan Blaney
4. Kyle Larson
5. Kevin Harvick
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Christopher Bell
8. Aric Almirola
9. Martin Truex Jr.
10. Alex Bowman
11. Chase Elliott
12. Ross Chastain
13. Tyler Reddick
14. Matt DiBenedetto
15. William Byron
16. Austin Dillon
17. Kurt Busch
18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
19. Cole Custer
20. Kyle Busch
21. Daniel Suarez
22. Erik Jones
23. Ryan Preece
24. Chris Buescher
25. Michael McDowell
26. Bubba Wallace
27. Chase Briscoe (R)
28. Ryan Newman
29. Corey Lajoie
30. Justin Haley (i)
31. Anthony Alfredo (R)
32. Garrett Smithley (i)
33. Kyle Tilley
34. Josh Bilicki
35. Quin Houff
36. James Davison
37. RC Enerson (i)
(R) – Rookie
(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points
- Brad Keselowski (pole) starts up front for the fourth time this season. The 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion is still seeking the first road course victory of his career.
- Joey Logano (2nd) and Ryan Blaney (3rd) mean all three Team Penske cars start inside the top 3.
- Kyle Larson (4th) is the highest-qualifying Chevrolet. He trails Denny Hamlin by 13 points for the regular-season championship.
- Hamlin (6th) is the highest-qualifying Toyota as he still seeks his first victory of 2021.
- Chase Elliott (11th) is the defending winner of this race (last run in 2019).
- Austin Dillon (16th) trails Tyler Reddick by five points for the final NASCAR playoff spot.
- Chase Briscoe (27th) is the highest-qualifying rookie.
- Kyle Tilley (33rd) continues his limited road course racing schedule behind the wheel of the No. 78 Live Fast Racing Ford, replacing BJ McLeod.
- James Davison (36th) moves to the No. 51 of Rick Ware Racing from the No. 15, replacing Cody Ware for this weekend.
- 24-year-old RC Enerson (37th) will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the Rick Ware Racing No. 15 this weekend. Enerson has one career major NASCAR start, finishing 20th at Road America. He failed to qualify for the Indy 500 earlier this year.
NASCAR Race Breakdown
Race: Go Bowling at The Glen
Track: Watkins Glen International (Watkins Glen, N.Y.)
Date: Sunday, Aug. 8
TV: NBCSN, 3:00 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 90 laps (220.5 miles)
Stage 1: 20 Laps
Stage 2: 20 Laps
Final Stage: 50 Laps
Teenage sensation Sam Mayer stops by the Frontstretch podcast to talk about his adjustment to the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Then, host Davey Segal and company reset the major NASCAR storylines after the two-week Olympic break while looking ahead to this weekend’s race at Watkins Glen.