RELATED: Gordon has brake problems " Hamlin's hood flies up Polesitter, AJ Allmendinger lost power on his No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet and was sitting on pit road during the fourth caution in Sunday's race. A frustrated Allmendinger was heard saying on the radio, "I shut it off trying to save fuel. Last time I ever do that ... When I popped the clutch, nothing." Allmendinger's best chance for making the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is at Watkins Glen , as he is the defending race winner and that win punched his ticket into last year's Chase. After his pit crew worked on his car, Allmendinger finally got power back and re-entered the race one lap down. 'Dinger led 21 laps before the power outage.
What : Cheez-It 355 at The Glen . Where : 2.454-mile road course in Watkins Glen , New York When : Sunday, Aug. 9; 2 p.m. ET. TV/Radio : NBCSN, MRN Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Distance : 220.5 miles, 90 laps. Pit road speed : 40 mph. Caution car speed : 45 mph. Fuel window : 33 laps. On the front row " See the full lineup Defending race winner AJ Allmendinger (127.839 mph) won his first Watkins Glen pole position besting fellow Chevrolet driver Martin Truex Jr . The top 10 qualifiers were separated by less than six-tenths of a second. It's Allmendinger's fourth career Sprint Cup Series pole. He also was the top qualifier at the Sonoma, California, road course in June. Kyle Busch is the last driver to win at the Glen from the pole position (2008) Fastest in practice : Four-time race winner Jeff Gordon was fastest in final practice just ahead of second-year driver Kyle Larson , Greg Biffle and two-time Glen winner Kyle Busch . Another former road course winner Clint Bowyer (Sonoma, 2012) led opening practice ahead of defending race winner Allmendinger. Busch and Sam Hornish Jr . were the only drivers to post top-10 laps in both sessions. Last year's winner : Allmendinger's thrilling victory last year in this race was his first and still only one in his Sprint Cup career, earning him and the single-car JTG Daugherty organization its first championship berth. The former open-wheel star is always considered the pre-race favorite at the two Cup road courses and was second fastest in opening practice en route to claiming his first pole position here. This year he won't have his great nemesis Marcos Ambrose to battle with up front as Ambrose returned to his native Australia to race this season. However, there are a lot of hungry non-winners this week who are widely considered road course aces. Gordon, Bowyer, Kasey Kahne and the Glen's all-time winningest driver Tony Stewart lead that charge. On the line : Five races remain to set the 16-car Chase field and the intensity is noticeably amped in the garage. Jamie McMurray leads the list of non-winners still ranked safely among the top 16 in the standings. Bowyer and Kahne are ranked 15th and 16th with only a 25-point cushion for Kahne while Larson (19th) and Stewart (25th) are further behind in points and may need to rely on a victory to get in the Chase. Of those drivers currently ranked among the top 16, only Harvick and Gordon have ever won at Watkins Glen . Four-time 2015 winner Kyle Busch sits only 13 points out of 30th-place, the minimum points position a winner must be ranked to qualify for the Chase. Just own it : Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports are currently tied with six wins apiece in this race -- double that of any other organization. However, JGR driver Kyle Busch 's win in 2013 is the only time that one of those two teams has won here in the last six years. A victory by one of the four Hendrick drivers would deliver Chevrolet its 750th Cup win. A victory by one of the four Gibbs drivers would give Toyota its 13th win in the last 17 NASCAR national series races. Road Course Masters " RELATED: Read more about Gordon's ascent Two of NASCAR's most celebrated champions -- Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon -- also happen to be two of the sport's most accomplished road racers. Tony Stewart is Watkins Glen's all-time winningest driver with five victories, his seven top fives the most of any active driver. He'll start his No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy a season-best third on Sunday. Gordon, NASCAR's most successful road course driver with nine career wins, has four at Watkins Glen and is the all-time leader in laps led (262) here. He'll start fifth in the Cheez-It 355 -- the final road course race in Gordon's final season of Cup competition. Nuts and Bolts : Dale Earnhardt Jr . is still looking for his first road course win and should it happen this weekend, it would be a big reversal of fortune for the sport's Most Popular Driver. His 22.4 average finish at the Glen is the worst among the top-16 drivers in points. He has only three top-10 finishes yet two DNFs in 15 starts here. Qualifying is hugely important at the Glen . Nine of the 32 races have been won by the pole sitter, 65 percent of race winners have come from a top-five starting position. Steve Park's 2000 victory from the 18th starting position is the farthest of any race winner. Brad Keselowski and retired driver Mark Martin hold the record for runner-up finishes at the Glen with three each. Earnhardt and Matt Kenseth hold the record for most starts (15) without a win. They said it : "We’re all road course ringers these days. It’s amazing how smart this garage is and how great these competitors are." -- Jimmie Johnson , driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet. "I look forward to these races. I always do every year. It's kind of fun, a weekend 'off' from the oval stuff. Love the opportunity to turn right, turn left, and have some shifting going on. You try to make the most of it and have some fun with it and come out of here with some decent finishes. Over the years we've run real well here at Watkins Glen . I'm really optimistic about being here this weekend.'' -- Kyle Busch , driver of the No. 18 M&Ms Crispy Toyota and winner of the season's other road course race in Sonoma, California, in June.
Pit stall assignments are out for Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen Interational, and Coors Light Pole Award winner AJ Allmendinger got first pick of where he will pit. Allmendinger chose pit stall 1, which is the first pit stall off pit road. Unlike the rest of the tracks on the Sprint Cup Series circuit, drivers must pit on the right side due to the road course layout. Follow coverage of the Cheez-It 355 on Sunday, Aug. 9 at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN/Live Extra, MRN, SiriusXM.
In this week's Race Center, NASCAR.com writer Holly Cain fills you in on all the action from this weekend at Watkins Glen and give hers pick for the Cheez-It 355 at the Glen .
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings WATKINS GLEN , N.Y. -- Penalty? So what? Polesitter Joey Logano shook off a pit road infraction that sent him to the back of the field early in Saturday’s Zippo 200 at The Glen . But by the end of the NASCAR XFINITY Series race, Logano’s No. 12 Team Penske Ford was comfortably at the front of the field. The only other car that was close was the No. 22 of teammate Brad Keselowski , who recovered from a pit road speeding penalty to finish second. "Everything went as planned," said Logano, who was penalized for dragging a fuel can from his pit stall after a green-flag stop on Lap 20 of 82. "It was fun to have a car that was that fast, out there racing these guys and racing your teammate there for the win. It shows a lot about our organization." Logano was 22nd when he restarted on Lap 27 after NASCAR threw the second caution of the race to retrieve the errant fuel can. With the help of two quick cautions, he drove quickly to the front, and on Lap 49, Logano passed Keselowski for the lead, drag-racing his teammate from the exit of Turn 7 to the start/finish line and clearing him through Turn 1. "I knew my car was fast enough to get there," Logano said of the quick run to the front. "I didn’t know if I was going to run them all down in that one run like that. I didn’t think that would happen, but it showed a lot of strength in our race car." It was the first road course victory for Logano in any of NASCAR’s top series. "I’ve been so close to winning with the 22 team on the (Sprint) Cup side and this XFINITY team has been close to winning here lately, so it’s nice to get Team Penske back in Victory Lane," said Logano, who had Sprint Cup crew chief Todd Gordon calling the race and his Sprint Cup crew servicing the car on pit road to gain experience for Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN), the 22nd race on the Cup schedule. If Logano and Keselowski dominated at the front of the field, leading 39 and 40 laps, respectively, behind them was chaos. XFINITY Series title contender Regan Smith suffered the brunt of the damage, getting the short end of run-ins with both Ty Dillon and Brendan Gaughan . Smith came home 20th and lost 18 points to XFINITY Series leader Chris Buescher , who finished third. After stopping by Gaughan’s car for a few words post-race, Smith headed for Dillon. The argument started to get physical, before NASCAR officials and crew members separated the drivers. Dillon admitted making two mistakes during the race, the first of which spun Smith’s JR Motorsports Chevrolet after a restart on Lap 40. What Dillon didn’t countenance was a threat from Smith. "He said he was going to wreck me -- we’ll see," Dillon said. "I took the blame for it, but he came down here picking a fight. That’s a different game." After the altercation, Smith repeated the promise to reporters. "I got dumped in Turn 1," Smith said. "It was pretty plain and simple. I don’t think I’m the only one he dumped today … I guarantee you, I might have lost the championship today, but he did, too. There’s no chance that 3 car wins the championship, and I’m going to make sure of it." Substituting for Kyle Busch , who opted not to run the race in favor of staying fresh for Sunday’s Cup race, road course ace Boris Said finished fourth, followed by Dillon and Brian Scott . Buescher extended his series lead to 24 points over Dillon and seventh-place finisher Chase Elliott . Smith is fourth in the standings, now 57 points behind Buescher. Information provided by NASCAR Wire Service
MORE: Gordon lends his voice for Disney project " Watkins Glen results Jeff Gordon had mechanical issues early on at Watkins Glen during the Cheez-It 355 . Sunday's race was one of his best chances to lock up a Chase berth, given his road course prowess (4 wins, 4 poles and 9 top 10s in 22 starts at Watkins Glen ; he also has five wins at Sonoma, the series' other road course), Gordon was set back thanks to early brake problems. While on pit road, the four-time champion received a new brake line on the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and re-entered the race on Lap 33, scored in 43rd place and four laps down. Gordon entered Sunday's race in 10th place in the driver points standings. He finished the race in 41st place and lost two spots in the standings, falling to 12th place, 203 points behind leader Kevin Harvick .
Catch up quickly before Sunday's running of the Cheez-It 355
RELATED: See Sunday's full lineup WATKINS GLEN , N.Y. -- AJ Allmendinger would like nothing better than a good, strong case of déjà vu. "Hopefully, we're reliving last year," Allmendinger said after putting his No. 47 JTG Daugherty Chevrolet on the pole for Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). Last year the road-course ace barged into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by winning at Watkins Glen from the sixth starting position. On Saturday at the 2.45-mile road course, Allmendinger posted the only sub-69-second lap (1:08.993) to win the pole at 127.839 mph, edging Martin Truex Jr . (127.569 mph) for the top starting spot in the 22nd NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season. Tony Stewart (127.481 mph) qualified third, followed by Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick (127.416 mph) and four-time Watkins Glen winner Jeff Gordon (127.181 mph), who is making his final start at the New York road course as a full-time Sprint Cup driver. The Coors Light Pole Award was the fourth of Allmendinger's career, his first at Watkins Glen and his second of the season -- and it marked a dramatic turnaround from a disappointing final practice on Friday afternoon, when Allmendinger was 28th on the speed chart. "I didn't do a good job (on Friday)," Allmendinger said. "They saved me. They gave me a good race car… I don't know if I'll sleep any better tonight, but I'll be ready for tomorrow." As he tries for a repeat performance, Allmendinger will have a familiar chassis under him. "It's the same car we ran last year, the same car we ran at Sonoma," said Allmendinger, who also won the pole for the West Coast road course race in June. "But they put a lot more work into it over the winter to make sure it was lighter, we got the right tools that we needed into the car to make it faster." Clearly, there's pressure on Allmendinger to qualify for the Chase, but most of it is self-generated. "There isn't any more pressure than I put on myself," he said. "These guys (his team) deserve it. I want to lift them on my shoulders and carry them to Victory Lane. Last year was special and it just makes you want to do it more and more. "But the outside, there ain't nothing there (in terms of pressure). It's all inside here that I put the pressure on myself, and I'm going to go try to make it happen. These guys deserve it." Kyle Larson , Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kyle Busch , Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon will start from positions six through 10 on the grid.
RELATED: Learn more about Watkins Glen " Course breakdown by turn WATKINS GLEN , N.Y. – Now that Watkins Glen has started repaving its racing surface, running " the Boot" may be back on the table for NASCAR races. The current configuration of the Glen for NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series races eliminates the Boot, which contains Turns 6 through 9, and shortens the course from 3.40 miles to 2.45 miles. But with repaving already having taken place in the Boot, smoothing the bumps in that portion of the track, NASCAR is considering running the full Grand Prix Course, which currently is used for the Tudor United Sports Car Championship. "We could," NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell told the NASCAR Wire Service before Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at the Glen . "We're discussing it with the track. It's something we're looking at down the road." Even with the addition of the Boot, Watkins Glen wouldn't be the longest road course on the NASCAR rotation. Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, which hosts the XFINITY Series, measures 4.048 miles.
RELATED: Fans of 'Smoke' support champion through highs and lows Tony Stewart says he’s trying not to think about the tragedy that kept the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion on the sidelines last year when the series last competed at Watkins Glen International. The series, and Stewart, return to the 2.45-mile road course this weekend for Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). "Unfortunately I have a feeling it's going to get brought up a lot this week. It doesn't help you continue to move forward with it" Stewart told members of the media prior to Wednesday’s annual "Smoke Show" charity event at Texas Motor Speedway. On the eve of last year's Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen , Stewart was involved in an on-track incident at Canandaigua (New York) Motorsports Park that claimed the life of Sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr. Stewart, who was not charged for his role in the accident, sat out the next three Sprint Cup Series races. His Stewart-Haas Racing team continued to compete with driver Regan Smith piloting the No. 14 Chevrolet at Watkins Glen while veteran Jeff Burton replaced Stewart at Michigan International Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway. It marked the second consecutive season the three-time Sprint Cup champion did not compete at the Glen . Less than a week before the 2013 race, Stewart suffered a broken right leg in a sprint car race in Oskaloosa, Iowa. "I don’t think I'll ever be the same from what happened the last two years," Stewart said when asked if the incidents had changed him. "I don't know how you could be. "I don't know how anybody ever could be back to exactly the way they were. Not being back exactly the same as I was doesn't mean I haven't become better in some ways. I think there are always positives that come out of every scenario." Five of Stewart’s 48 career wins have come at Watkins Glen , the last in 2009. Thus far this year, he has struggled with a new rules package that has taken away horsepower and decreased downforce. He’s 25th in points heading into this weekend's event, with only five races remaining before the field is set for this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . RELATED: Stewart's fifth win at Watkins Glen in #TBT While back-to-back top-five qualifying efforts have been a pleasant surprise, Stewart said he isn't ready to proclaim that he and the team have turned the corner. "It's been a decent couple of weeks," Stewart said. "I think it's a little early to put judgment on whether we've got it figured out or not. But at least we qualified well the last two weeks. That definitely has been a bonus for sure." His ninth-place finish last weekend at Pocono Raceway was just his second top-10 of the year. "We ran decent last week and I think that was a positive sign," he said, "but it's way too early to (tell). For moving the needle two weeks, that's a good thing … but I don't know that it means we've got it all figured out yet. "I think it's just too early to tell. … I wish I knew what to say. I'm not really sure yet. I'm not sure two weeks gives me a definitive answer." Teammates Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch each have two wins this season while Stewart and teammate Danica Patrick have struggled to get a handle on the car and the rules package. Such gaps in the level of competition across the same organization have often left Stewart frustrated. "On one side it’s encouraging because you know that the organization’s capable of doing it," he said. " The other side of the coin is … you're frustrated because you can't figure it out yourself." Wednesday's event marked the eighth year Stewart has participated in the fundraiser, which benefits the Speedway Children's Charities Texas Chapter. Donors who spent the day taking part in activities similar to those experienced by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitors on race day have raised approximately $1.5 million since the program’s inception. "I don't think we anticipated how it was going to grow," Stewart said of the event. "… It amazes me how many people have done it and keep coming back every year, keep supporting it. That's what's cool about it; it's great to see that kind of support for an event that's lasted that long. "They're the heroes of the day. They are the ones that have made it what it is. I just come along to have fun and have a good time with them."