Cheez-It 355 at the Glen preview

Saturday, Aug 09 1791

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series turns left and right for the final time this season at Watkins Glen International Sunday.

Carl Edwards was the victor in the last road course race at Sonoma in June, admist of all the talks of him leaving Roush-Fenway Racing at the end of the season.  Edwards held off a late charge from Jeff Gordon to score his second win of 2014.  No driver has swept the road courses in the same season since Kyle Busch in 2008.

On the subject of Jeff Gordon, he hasn't won on a road course since 2006 and is winless at Watkins Glen since 2001.  Three of Gordon's four wins (1997, 1998 and 2001) at Watkins Glen, he went on to win the championship.  His Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) team last won on the road course at Sonoma with Jimmie Johnson in 2010.

A driver who is in need of a win is Gordon's teammate Kasey Kahne.  The Washington driver had a strong showing at Indianapolis two weeks ago, but couldn't seal the deal on the victory.  Kahne is just outside of making the Chase on points. but a good run on Sunday can help solidify his chances.

As for drivers looking for their first wins of 2014, Watkins Glen is a great opportunity for drivers like Marcos Ambrose and A.J. Allmendinger.  Both drivers were in the hunt for last year's win, until Ambrose stayed out too long under green while leading and Allmendinger was hit with a speeding penalty running third at the time.

Tony Stewart still has yet to reach victory lane in 2014.  It has been over a year since breaking his leg in a Sprint Car race at Iowa.  This will be Stewart's first race at Watkins Glen since 2012 and is the active leader there with five wins.

When Watkins Glen and Sonoma are compared, they are both different.  Sonoma is a more technical track, as Watkins Glen is known more for its speed on the long straightaways.  There are three straightaways at Watkins Glen. The first one is on the front straightaway from turn 11 to turn one, while the second one starts after exiting the esses before drivers hit the inner loop.  Once drivers exit he inner loop, there is one final straightaway before drivers slow down for turn 10.

The Cup race at Watkins Glen the last three years have featured the same three players.  Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose have all fought for the win during the race at one time or another.  Busch led Ambrose late in 2011, before a caution bunched up the field and Ambrose passed Busch held off Keselowski to score his first career Cup win.  2012 had greater intensity than the year before, as it appeared no one would catch Kyle Busch.

A car laid down some oil and make the track slippery.  Once Keselowski got to the back bumper of Busch, the two made contact and sent the No. 18 car spinning.  Ambrose reeled in the No. 2 car and the two fought it amongst themselves.  The Australian driver came out on top for back-to-back victories at the Glen.

The 2013 race appeared to be Ambrose's race to lose after leading 51 of the first 61 laps before being caught on track when a caution fell.  He never recovered and was caught up in a late wreck and finished 31st.  The race came down to Busch and Keselowski.  The 2012 Sprint Cup champ couldn't get around Busch and Watkins Glen paid the driver of the No. 18 car a favor this go around.

Road course racing has been exciting for the fans in recent years and Sunday's race won't disappoint.  The green flag for the Cheez-It 355 at the Glen will drop shortly after 1 p.m. ET and will be shown live on ESPN.

Kyle Magda

Currently, I’m a journalism student in college who enjoys the sport of racing. I've been following NASCAR in-depth since 2001.

Along with my love of racing, I’m also into baseball, football (college & pro), and college basketball.

I also have my own website, The Life of Kyle, where I write about various topics.

And to get my feet wet into radio, I have my own show called Overdrive.  I started it with my friend.  Since we can’t record together most of the time, we have our own versions.  I cover NASCAR and ARCA, and he takes Formula One and IndyCar.

Not forgetting to mention, I have my own YouTube channel as well.

As for race tracks, I’ve gone to races at Pocono, Watkins Glen, Daytona, Dover, Loudon and a few local short tracks as well.  I hope to cross the Indianapolis 500 off my list in the future. I hope to become a man of many hats.