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."
WATKINS GLEN , N.Y. -- It's been a sweet reunion for AJ Allmendinger and the world famous Watkins Glen International , site of the Californian's first and only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win last summer. "It was pretty cool driving in the race track yesterday when we got here and just kind of remembering the last time I was driving out of the race track," Allmendinger said. "The amount of joy that I had and just all the feelings and emotions that I had gone through -- those are memories that no matter what happens the rest of my life, I will always have." Allmendinger would really like to make more memories this weekend. The former open-wheel star knows very well it is his best chance to earn a second consecutive berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . His No. 47 Kroger/Bush's Beans Chevy was second fastest -- behind Clint Bowyer -- in Friday's opening practice around the windy and scenic 2.454-mile course in upstate New York. Four-time race winner Jeff Gordon topped the second practice, just faster than Kyle Larson . All four drivers are still looking for their first win of the year. RELATED: Practice results Allmendinger's popular victory at the Glen last year was all the sweeter because it landed him in the 16-driver Chase field. The only single-car team to make the playoffs, Allmendinger may have been considered a long shot to hoist the championship trophy, but at least he had a shot. One race -- this race -- made all the difference. "I feel like if we go out there and we perform at our best and we make all the right decisions, we will legitimately have a shot to win again," Allmendinger said. "That is all you can ask for." The reality is Allmendinger isn't the only road course ace that needs to win to score a Chase berth. The Glen's all-time winningest driver Tony Stewart (five victories) is 25th in the points standings and will need a victory to earn a Chase bid. The track's all-time lap leader, Gordon (262 laps), as well as former road course winners Bowyer and Kasey Kahne also still need a win to secure an automatic Chase bid. Bowyer and Kahne are a tenuous 15th and 16th in the points standings. It's the same situation for Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Jamie McMurray -- who has a road course win in the Rolex 24 sports car classic -- and Larson as both are also winless with only five races remaining to capitalize on the win-and-you're-in Chase format. And then there's the season four-time race winner Kyle Busch , who sits 13 points out of 30th place in the standings -- the threshold for a race winner to earn a position in the 16-driver Chase field. He's won twice at the Glen (2008, 2013). Does having so many successful road course drivers needing a victory ratchet up the competition on Sunday? Do they lean on other cars a little harder, block a little more, drive deeper into the corners? Gordon, a four-time Watkins Glen winner, said Friday, he definitely expects the intensity will increase this weekend. It's a radically different scenario for him than in 2014 when he had already won twice and was leading the points standings coming into this race. "That win means so much," Gordon said Friday. "Of course, it's important for us if we can't win this race to have a good solid points day and build that buffer (in the points). Our goal is to win and we feel like it's a great opportunity. "There are others that have a similar opportunity, too. This is definitely one of the last sort of "wild cards," you think of restrictor plate and road course races as being a wild card with a winner you might not necessarily expect." Even though he is considered a race favorite, Allmendinger is taking nothing for granted. "The thing I've learned about the Sprint Cup Series is it doesn't matter whether somebody needs a win or not, if the opportunity is there, he or she is going to go out there to do whatever they can to get the win," Allmendinger said. "I kind of laugh because everybody initially said, 'Oh, Marcus Ambrose isn't here so this should be easy for you.' I'm like, 'I'm not sure if you guys remember but Gordon was leading (last year's race) when he broke.' There are a lot of great race car drivers and you can't just single out one or two of them that are going to be tough. "It makes it a lot of fun. I know I have to go out there and be on my A-game to have a shot to win this thing." MORE: Allmendinger reflects on last year's win
RELATED: Updated series standings " Latest Chase Grid With only four races left until the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , it's time to check up on Kyle Busch , driver of the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing , as he tries to rebound from early-season injuries and make the Chase. He is currently the only driver with multiple wins who has yet to clinch a spot in the Chase. WHAT JUST HAPPENED: After starting the Watkins Glen race in the eighth spot, Kyle Busch finished second at the Cheez-It 355 -- his fifth top five at the Glen . With Kevin Harvick on the losing side of a fuel strategy on the white-flag lap, Busch snagged the runner-up position at the road course. "Rowdy," who led three laps, entered the top 30 with his second-place finish. Despite getting into the top 30, this does not secure a Chase spot. WHAT HE NEEDS: With four wins this season, Busch still needs to stay in the top 30 in the standings and be able to start the remaining regular-season races to be eligible for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . With four races to go before Chicagoland, Busch is unofficially in 30th place. He is six points ahead of Cole Whitt , who currently sits in 31st. WHAT'S NEXT: The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is headed to Michigan International Speedway for the Pure Michigan 400 . In 21 starts there, Busch has one win, four top fives, 6 top 10s and one pole. His victory at Michigan came in 2011's Pure Michigan 400 . The last time he raced at Michigan was back in June for the Quicken Loans 400 , where he finished in 43rd after a crash on Turn 4 while on Lap 53.
NASCAR.com analyst Chris Rice and Marty Snider preview all the action this weekend as the drivers of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series head to Watkins Glen International for the first time in the 2015 season.
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.
WATKINS GLEN -SPECIFIC STATISTICS DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen , New York going into the CHEEZ-It 355 at The Glen (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN) on August 9. AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 Kroger’s/Bush's Beans Chevrolet) · One win, two top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 7.833, second-best · Average Running Position of 12.288, third-best · Driver Rating of 100.5, third-best · 16 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 120.332, fourth-fastest · 363 Laps in the Top 15 (67.0), fifth-most · 114 Quality Passes, 11th-most Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Maxwell House Toyota) · One top five, three top 10s · Average finish of 15.778, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 15.912, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 83.3, 13th-best · 2 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 119.569, 12th-fastest · 427 Laps in the Top 15 (52.6), 12th-most · 106 Quality Passes, 12th-most Kyle Busch ’s Chase Eligibility 30th David Gilliland 331 Rank Driver Wins Points Points From 30th 31 Cole Whitt 0 331 0 32 Kyle Busch 4 318 -13 33 Brett Moffitt # 0 279 -52 34 Alex Bowman 0 264 -67 35 Michael Annett 0 248 -83 36 Matt DiBenedetto # 0 220 -111 37 Josh Wise 0 186 -145 38 Michael McDowell 0 124 -207 39 Jeb Burton # 0 120 -211 40 Alex Kennedy # 0 77 -254 * To be eligible for the Chase, the driver must be in the top 30 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings following race number 26. Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Crispy Toyota) · Two wins, four top fives, eight top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 11.300, fourth-best · Average Running Position of 12.453, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 108.4, second-best · 74 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 120.360, second-fastest · 638 Laps in the Top 15 (70.6), fourth-most · 183 Quality Passes, sixth-most Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Two top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 16.900, 10th-best · Average Running Position of 15.864, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 94.3, seventh-best · 51 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 120.288, fifth-fastest · 564 Laps in the Top 15 (62.4), eighth-most · 190 Quality Passes, fourth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 STANLEY Toyota) · Five top fives, seven top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 8.400, third-best · Average Running Position of 12.370, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 95.0, sixth-best · 15 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 119.959, sixth-fastest · 666 Laps in the Top 15 (73.7), third-most · 203 Quality Passes, second-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AXALTA Chevrolet) · Four wins, six top fives, nine top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 21.600, 13th-best · Average Running Position of 17.075, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 85.7, 10th-best · 42 Fastest Laps Run, series-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 119.314, 13th-fastest · 479 Laps in the Top 15 (53.0), 11th-most · 164 Quality Passes, eighth-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) · One top five, four top 10s · Average finish of 20.000, 12th-best · Average Running Position of 15.543, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 85.7, 11th-best · 11 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 119.911, seventh-fastest · 468 Laps in the Top 15 (57.6), 10th-most · 181 Quality Passes, seventh-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John's/ Budweiser Chevrolet) · One win, two top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 14.500, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 15.555, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 89.0, ninth-best · 11 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 119.817, ninth-fastest · 543 Laps in the Top 15 (60.1), ninth-most · 161 Quality Passes, ninth-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Four top fives, seven top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 12.100, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 10.079, second-best · Driver Rating of 100.1, fourth-best · 28 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 120.338, third-fastest · 715 Laps in the Top 15 (79.1), second-most · 208 Quality Passes, series-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · Three top fives, three top 10s · Average finish of 12.200, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 14.117, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 97.5, fifth-best · 39 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 119.878, eighth-fastest · 290 Laps in the Top 15 (64.2), seventh-most · 66 Quality Passes, 13th-most Jamie McMurray (No. 1 McDonald's Chevrolet) · One top five, two top 10s · Average finish of 19.300, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 17.508, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 83.7, 12th-best · 9 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 119.734, 10th-fastest · 465 Laps in the Top 15 (51.4), 13th-most · 130 Quality Passes, 10th-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet) · Five wins, seven top fives, ten top 10s · Average finish of 7.500, series-best · Average Running Position of 5.661, series-best · Driver Rating of 120.4, series-best · 106 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 120.785, series-fastest · 678 Laps in the Top 15 (93.6), series-most · 195 Quality Passes, third-most Martin Truex Jr (No. 78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet) · Three top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 12.444, seventh-best · Average Running Position of 12.885, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 90.7, eighth-best · 6 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 119.686, 11th-fastest · 536 Laps in the Top 15 (66.0), sixth-most · 188 Quality Passes, fifth-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Watkins Glen International Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 14 0 1 2 7 0 12.6 89.0 2 Joey Logano 6 0 0 1 3 0 16.5 78.4 3 Dale Earnhardt Jr 15 0 0 2 3 2 22.4 76.2 4 Jimmie Johnson 13 1 0 4 7 1 13.9 100.1 5 Martin Truex Jr 9 0 0 3 5 0 12.4 90.7 6 Brad Keselowski 5 0 0 3 3 0 12.2 97.5 7 Matt Kenseth 15 0 0 0 5 0 15.1 79.8 8 Jamie McMurray 12 0 0 1 2 2 19 83.7 9 Kurt Busch 14 1 0 2 6 3 18.6 94.3 10 Jeff Gordon 22 3 4 6 9 3 16.6 85.7 11 Denny Hamlin 9 0 0 1 4 3 20 85.7 12 Paul Menard 11 0 0 0 0 1 23.6 64.7 13 Ryan Newman 13 0 0 1 3 1 17.6 76.5 14 Clint Bowyer 9 0 0 1 3 0 15.8 83.3 15 Kasey Kahne 11 0 0 0 0 0 19.3 73.9 16 Carl Edwards 10 1 0 5 7 0 8.4 95.0 * – Based on last 10 races at Watkins Glen International (2005 – 2014). Watkins Glen International Data Season Race #: 22 of 36 (08-09-15) Track Size : 2.45-miles Number of Turns : 7 Race Length : 90 laps / 220.5 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Watkins Glen Tony Stewart ............................. 120.4 Kyle Busch ............................... 108.4 AJ Allmendinger ........................ 100.5 Jimmie Johnson ........................ 100.1 Brad Keselowski ......................... 97.5 Carl Edwards .............................. 95.0 Kurt Busch .................................. 94.3 Martin Truex Jr ............................ 90.7 Kevin Harvick .............................. 89.0 Jeff Gordon ................................ 85.7 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (10 total) among active drivers at Watkins Glen International . Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet 129.466 mph, 68.126 secs. 08-09-14 2014 race winner : AJ Allmendinger , Chevrolet 90.123 mph, (02:26:48), 08-10-14 Track qualifying record: Marcos Ambrose , Ford 129.491 mph, 68.113 secs. 08-09-14 (Set in Round 1 of 3) Track race record: Mark Martin , Ford 103.030 mph, (02:11:54), 08-13-95 At Watkins Glen International : History · After several events were held on the streets of Watkins Glen , a permanent facility was opened in 1956. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was in 1957, won by Buck Baker (83.064 mph, 08/04/1957). · After a six-year absence, NASCAR returned to The Glen in 1964 and 1965. · After a 21-year absence, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returned to The Glen , and has run one race a year there since 1986. · The first NSCS race at Watkins Glen was scheduled for 101.2-miles in 1957, the second race was 161.7-miles (1964) and the third race was 151.8-miles (1965). Every race since has been scheduled for 220.5-miles. Starts · There have been 32 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Watkins Glen International , one race per season. · 252 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen ; 152 in more than one. · Jeff Gordon , Mark Martin , Michael Waltrip and Terry Labonte lead the series in starts at Watkins Glen with 22 each. Poles · Buck Baker won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Watkins Glen in 1957 with a speed of 87.071 mph. Driver/owner Buck Baker went on to win the inaugural race from the pole. · 19 drivers have Coors Light poles at Watkins Glen , led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt, Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon with three each. · Mark Martin is the only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver to post consecutive Coors Light poles at Watkins Glen (three) – 1993, 1994, and 1995. · Youngest Watkins Glen pole winner: Kyle Busch (08/15/2011 – 26 years, 3 months, 13 days). · Oldest Watkins Glen pole winner: Morgan Shepherd (08/13/1989 – 47 years, 10 months, 1 day). · Tony Stewart leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Watkins Glen with a 6.286 – Stewart has made 14 starts at WGI. Wins · 19 different drivers have won at Watkins Glen International in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, led by Tony Stewart with five wins; followed by Jeff Gordon with four. · Jeff Gordon leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in road course wins with nine (Sonoma, five; Watkins Glen , four); Tony Stewart has the second most road course wins all-time with seven ( Watkins Glen , five; Sonoma, two). · NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison holds the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series record for the most wins at a single road course track with six - Riverside International Raceway. · Four drivers have posted consecutive wins at Watkins Glen , including three consecutive by Mark Martin (1993, ’94, ‘95) and Jeff Gordon (1997, ’98, ‘99). The other two drivers to win consecutive races at Watkins Glen are Tony Stewart (2004, ’05) and Marcos Ambrose (2011, ’12). · Youngest Watkins Glen winner: Kyle Busch (08/10/2008 – 23 years, 3 months, 8 days). · Oldest Watkins Glen winner: Geoff Bodine (08/11/1996 – 47 years, 3 months, 24 days). · Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing are tied for the most wins at Watkins Glen in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with six each: --- Hendrick Motorsports : Jeff Gordon (four), Tim Richmond (one) and Ricky Rudd (one). --- Joe Gibbs Racing : Tony Stewart (four) and Kyle Busch (two). · Six different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Watkins Glen ; led by Chevrolet with 17 victories; followed by Ford with seven, Pontiac with four, Toyota with two and Buick and Mercury each have one. · Nine of the 32 (28.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Watkins Glen have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Kyle Busch in 2008. · The Coors Light pole position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (nine) than any other starting position at Watkins Glen . · 11 of the 32 (34.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Watkins Glen have been won from the front row: nine from the pole and two from second-place. · 21 of the 32 (65.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Watkins Glen have been won from a top-five starting position. · 23 of the 32 (71.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Watkins Glen have been won from a top-10 starting position. · None of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Watkins Glen have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Watkins Glen is 18th, by Steve Park in 2000. · All five of the active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Watkins Glen participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. · Kevin Harvick (2006) and AJ Allmendinger (2014) both competed at Watkins Glen five times each before winning; the longest span of any of the five active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners. · Three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at Watkins Glen : Steve Park (08/13/2000), Marcos Ambrose (08/15/11) and AJ Allmendinger (08/11/14). Additional Finishing Position Stats · Brad Keselowski and Mark Martin lead the series in runner-up finishes at Watkins Glen with three each. · Mark Martin leads the series in top-five finishes at Watkins Glen with 12; followed by Ricky Rudd with eight. Tony Stewart leads all active drivers with seven. · Mark Martin leads the series in top-10 finishes at Watkins Glen with 16; followed by Ricky Rudd, Rusty Wallace and Tony Stewart with 10 each. · AJ Allmendinger leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Watkins Glen with a 7.833. · Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Matt Kenseth lead the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Watkins Glen without visiting Victory Lane at 14 each. Track/Event Specific Stats · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Watkins Glen is the 2001 race won by Jeff Gordon over Jeff Burton with a MOV of 0.172 second. · There have been two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Watkins Glen (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): 2005 (90/92) and 2011 (90/92). · Only one of the 32 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Watkins Glen has been shortened due to weather conditions - the 1992 race – only 51 of the scheduled 90 laps were completed. · The 8/14/2011 race was the only NSCS race at Watkins Glen that has been postponed to another date due to weather (8/15/2011). · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Watkins Glen six times: 1965, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008. · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Watkins Glen with 262 laps led in 22 starts. Female Competitor Stats · Danica Patrick and Patty Moise are the only two female NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers to compete at Watkins Glen International . Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Danica Patrick 43 21 8/10/2014 Danica Patrick 35 20 8/11/2013 Averages 39.0 20.5 Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Patty Moise 33 30 8/14/1988 Patty Moise 30 33 8/10/1987 Averages 31.5 31.5 NASCAR in New York · There have been 70 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among 15 tracks in the state of New York. Track Name City NSCS Watkins Glen International Watkins Glen 32 Monroe County Fairgrounds Rochester 8 Islip Speedway Islip 6 Bridgehampton Race Circuit B
RELATED: Practice 2 results Whirling his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at 127.333 mph around Watkins Glen International , Jeff Gordon soared to the top of the leaderboard on his first lap during Friday's final Sprint Cup Series practice at the New York road course. The runner-up in all-time wins at the Glen with four trips to Victory Lane, Gordon will be one of several drivers looking to clinch a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a win this weekend. Shortly after topping the final XFINITY practice, Kyle Larson returned to the race track to post the second-fastest speed (127.049 mph) in the field in his No. 42 Chip Ganassai Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet. Larson is one of a handful of Sprint Cup regulars who will attempt double-duty races at the road course this weekend. RELATED: Larson leads NXS practice at the Glen Roush Fenway Racing 's Greg Biffle (126.987 mph), Joe Gibbs Racing 's Kyle Busch (126.837 mph) and Team Penske 's Joey Logano (126.720 mph) rounded out the top five in the final session. Defending Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick made several mock qualifying runs during the second session, propelling his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet at 126.348 mph to the ninth position on the leaderboard. With five wins at the New York track, Tony Stewart remains the all-time winner at Watkins Glen . During a mock qualifying run, "Smoke" propelled his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet around the road course at 126.263 mph to rank 10th on the practice leaderboard. After coming up second on the leaderboard in the opening session with a high speed of 127.067 mph, AJ Allmendinger -- the reigning race winner at the Glen -- posted the 27th-fastest speed in the field in his JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet with a fast lap of 124.823 mph. After topping opening practice, Clint Bowyer slowed in his No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, recording a high speed of 124.401 mph for the 31st spot. The Sprint Cup Series is back on track at the Glen on Saturday at 1:15 p.m. ET for Coors Light Pole Qualifying (NBCSN/Live Extra). Bowyer leads opening practice RELATED: Practice 1 results A pair of former road-course winners looking to clinch a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , Clint Bowyer and AJ Allmendinger paced opening Sprint Cup Series practice at Watkins Glen International on Friday afternoon. Bowyer, winner of the 2012 Sonoma race, topped the session with a best speed of 127.067 mph, followed by last year's Watkins Glen winner in Allmendinger at 126.901 mph. Jimmie Johnson -- who has never won at the Glen in 13 career starts -- was third on the charts at 126.139 mph. Sam Hornish Jr . (126.095 mph) and Casey Mears (125.969 mph) rounded out the top five. Brad Keselowski , who once ran off three straight runner-up finishes at the Glen , was eighth-fastest at 125.419 mph. Another Sprint Cup practice is set to run later on Friday afternoon at 4:40 p.m. ET with coverage on NBCSN/Live Extra. http://www.nascar.com/en_us/sprint-cup-series/standings/results/2015/cheezit-355.raceResults.practice2.html
RELATED: Junior wants to race in the rain The extended weather forecast for Watkins Glen shows only a slight chance of rain for this weekend’s Cheez-It 355 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). But NASCAR officials are prepared to conduct Sunday’s race should inclement weather become an issue. The same holds true for Saturday's Zippo 200 XFINITY Series race (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM), also slated for Watkins Glen . Steve O’Donnell, Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer for NASCAR, told NASCAR.com Monday that should there be rain on Sunday, "the same rules will apply that we've had in the XFINITY Series." In other words, yes, they're prepared to run the Sprint Cup race in the rain. Three XFINITY Series races have been contested in wet conditions – in 2008 and '09 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (Montreal) and last year at Road America (Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin). Goodyear will have an ample supply of rain tires on hand this weekend and teams will be required to install a functional windshield wiper motor, defogger and rear window flashing light for this weekend’s races. The light must be activated during all wet weather conditions, and must be located in the upper left corner inside the rear window. "We've also got Air Titans that we can deploy if there is ... excess water in certain areas," O’Donnell said. Per the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rulebook, under "wet" conditions, cars will line up on the starting grid under a normal "dry" equipment configuration. After a single pace lap, cars will return to pit road to their assigned pit stalls where crewmembers will install rain tires and a front windshield wiper or wipers. The rear flashing light must also be activated at this time. No further adjustments or refueling of the car will be allowed during the stop. Cars will return to the track in their original starting positions behind the pace car to complete the pace laps. Teams can't change to "dry" weather tires until taking the green flag following the start of the event. RACE CENTER EXTRA: How Watkins Glen's unique pit road impacts teams For "damp" conditions: If there is moisture only in certain areas of the track, the start of the race would be similar to those for "wet" conditions, however when pitting after the first pace lap, teams will have the option to install the rain tires, defogger and windshield wiper or wipers. Activation of the rear flashing light is mandatory under both "wet" and "damp" conditions prior to the race start. Once again, the cars will re-enter the track in their original starting position to complete the remaining pace laps. Should a team or teams opt not to change tires during the designated "damp” conditions pit stop, but pit during one of the remaining pace laps, the team or teams will start at the rear of the field in the order in which they return to the track. Sprint Cup Series managing director director Richard Buck will make the determination of track conditions (wet, damp or dry). Finally, if one or more laps are completed under normal dry conditions then rain arrives, NASCAR will display the yellow flag, putting the race under caution. Once pit road has been opened, teams may pit and change tires, install "wet" weather equipment and perform any additional services permitted. They also have the option of remaining on the track, should they so choose. Tire Build for the Glen Unchanged Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series teams will run the same Goodyear tire code at Watkins Glen . It is same build that teams have run there since 2013. XFINITY Series teams also ran the tire at Road America last year. The "wet" weather tire, should it be needed, for both series is the same build as that which was also run at Road America in '14. After the Fact Two of the 32 penalties issued Sunday at Pocono Raceway were assessed after the completion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Joey Logano ( Team Penske ) and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ) both incurred pit road speeding penalties after each driver ran out of gas in the closing laps of the Windows 10 400 . Both Truex (19th) and Logano (20th) finished on the lead lap.
Our insider details the mentality behind backward pit stop Editor's note: Ben Steger is a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pit crew member and will provide first-person analysis and thoughts on that aspect of the sport for NASCAR.com. As all six over-the-wall crew members step up onto pit wall this weekend at Watkins Glen International in anticipation of an approaching pit stop, they'll do something they haven't done all year and won't do again for the remainder of the season: Look left. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series only gets the opportunity to turn right at road courses twice a season (Sonoma and Watkins Glen ). As we head into Watkins Glen , any bit of comfort that crews have built up over the first 21 races of the season goes out the door. When the car comes into its pit stall from the left side, it will create a complex, confusing and uncharacteristic backward pit stop. The most important part of pitting a car backward is having the correct mentality. Once each member of the crew is in position to do what they’ve done all year, muscle memory takes over and things should run smoothly. However, getting to that position -- and what you do in between -- is where the money is made. RELATED: Calculating fuel mileage at Watkins Glen Ninety percent or more of the crews will keep all of their guys in the same positions for the stop, having the front and rear tire changer/carrier combinations continue to service that part of the car. Here's a breakdown: • Tire changers: They will be running around the car opposite of the norm, and footwork will be important, as well as knowing they will pull their own tires on both sides of the car. Making sure that tire is under control after the pull will be key. They must also remember they can't hit three or four lug nuts this week. It will be five on, five off (hopefully) all afternoon. • Tire carriers: They still must get the front and rear tires back to the wall while under control, which will seem different from their normal routine, but other than that, things aren't too difficult. Executing adjustments and getting out of the way as they head over to the right side of the car will make for some headache, but for the most part their job stays the same. • Jackman: The jackman will still jump out in front of the car, only this time he's jacking the left side of the car first. He will then take the front tire that the tire changer has pulled off, and hand it off to the front carrier. His run around will be the tough part. Instead of running around to his right, he will run around to his left, and jack the right side of the car in an uncomfortable way. • Gasman: The gasman will have the same ground as normal to cover, as road course cars have the gas hole on the right side of the car instead of the typical left. However, plugging a 100-pound Sunoco gas can is quite difficult when it's from the opposite angle as normal. He will have to be aware of when the rear changer/carriers are coming around to the right side of the car and give the rear carrier space to squeeze in and put his tire on once the can has been engaged. So what are the curveballs? Adjustments. If the rear tire carrier has to do a left side adjustment, look for him to run out in front of the car with the jackman, as he won't have time to set an adjustment wrench if he runs around the back of the car with the changer. If he has a right side adjustment, the same challenge applies, as there just isn't much space to set a wrench, squeeze your body between the gasman and changer, and then put your tire on. Look for some gasmen to either do the adjustment for them on the right side, or at least set the wrench on the decklid for easier access for the rear tire carrier. At the end of the day, crews are still looking to beat their competitors, whether that be through play-call, strategy or sheer performance. Don't expect anything lightning fast Sunday. A solid, fundamentally sound (if that's possible backward) pit stop where all the lug nuts are tight and the car is full of gas in under 14 seconds is what most of the teams are looking for. With the potential of rain in Watkins Glen on Sunday afternoon, look for the same approach from the pit crews, with the emphasis on being careful and not hurting yourself. Remember, NASCAR has a "rain or shine" mentality when it comes to racing at road courses.
AJ Allmendinger heads back to Watkins Glen International this weekend for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race as a defending winner. It's a mantle he happily accepts, one that brings back plenty of memories, but one that comes with expectations and a golden opportunity. Allmendinger aims to rely on his road-racing expertise in Sunday's Cheez-it 355 at The Glen (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) on the 2.45-mile circuit, site of his breakthrough triumph in NASCAR's premier series. A victory would help provide a needed salve for the JTG Daugherty Racing driver, who sits 23rd in Sprint Cup points but could clinch a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs with a regular-season win. RELATED: Allmendinger wins first Cup race "I still believe it every day that we have a great shot to win a race and make the Chase and if I didn't believe it, then I shouldn't be in a race car," Allmendinger said in a release provided by the team. "From there, it's all about being better. Are we a championship-winning team right now? Probably not, but all you have got to do is look at what (2014 series runner-up) Ryan Newman showed last year. All you got to do is get into the Chase and you've got a shot." Allmendinger's likely best chance comes on the twisty turns at Watkins Glen , where his shrewd road course ability makes the No. 47 Chevrolet a pre-race favorite. The proficiency paid off last season, where Allmendinger outran fellow road ace Marcos Ambrose for his first Sprint Cup win. VOTE: Who will at Watkins Glen ? But the performance sometimes comes with the double-edged sword of anticipation. It's another element of pre-race preparation that crew chief Brian Burns has tried to manage. "I'm not going to lie, it is a stressful weekend for us because we all have the same expectations," Burns said. "We try not to talk about it and try to block it out so we can stay as calm as we can. We try to keep each other on an even level. We know that if we don't make mistakes and do the simple things right and have the absence of bad luck, we can win." Misfortune derailed JTG Daugherty's hopes in June at Sonoma Raceway, the other road course on the Sprint Cup schedule. Allmendinger claimed the Coors Light Pole Award and ran among the contenders until a fuel-pressure issue forced the No. 47 behind the wall for extensive repairs in the garage. It was the latest setback in a season that thus far has produced just three top-10 finishes in 21 races. "We're doing our best and are trying to get better," Allmendinger said. "To go out there, whether it's battling for 25th or battling for the win, we are trying to get everything we can. This season has definitely not gone the way we've wanted it to go. It started off great and after five races we were top five in points and then we had some motor problems happen and a few incidents where we would be running in the top 10 and have an accident like we did at Bristol and so forth." A rebound could hinge on this weekend's return to Watkins Glen . Allmendinger said he still gets chills watching the race replay, but that he still contemplates what he could have done better over the final laps. Regardless of any internal second-guessing, his stirring 2014 drive cemented Allmendinger's name in the registry of premier-series winners. "Winning a race, no one can take that away from you," Allmendinger said. "You feel like you are king of the world for one day. At that moment, you are the best there is. I just remember on that day it was the best I had ever driven in my life. On that day, I had to man up and say, 'I'm not letting this race get taken away from me.' It's something that no matter whether if I win again or not, it's memories that I will always have."