Jeff Gordon has won four times in his career at the famed Watkins Glen International. But, none may be more important than if he could pull into Victory Lane this Sunday at the road course.
Gordon is currently sitting comfortable in terms of making the Chase. He has scored the second highest number of points of drivers who have not yet won a race. A victory on Sunday would change that all for Gordon.
Gordon hasn’t had the farewell tour that people thought he would. He’s been quick, but not the speed he had last year when he won four races. In final practice in preparation for qualifying on Saturday, Gordon was quickest with a speed of 127.333 mph. The speed was two tenths of a second quicker then second place Kyle Larson.
Speaking of Larson, he had the second best 10 consecutive lap average to that of Kevin Harvick. Only five drivers made a run of 10 or more laps, but Larson finished fourth in his rookie year at Watkins Glen.
Greg Biffle was third quickest. This is a huge turn around for the Roush Fenway Racing Ford’s. Racing at a road course evens the playing field to a degree, but the team still has to perform and that is what the No. 16 team did on Friday.
Kyle Busch ended up fourth quick. Busch was in the top 10 on the speed charts in both practice sessions on Friday. The No. 18 did go for a spin out of Turn 11 in the first practice session but didn’t hit anything. Busch is the hottest driver in NASCAR as he has won four out-of-the last six races and last week he was leading on the last lap before running out of fuel and teammate Matt Kenseth edging him out at Pocono.
Joey Logano rounded out the top five. Much like Busch, Logano was quick in each of the practice sessions. Logano has run well at The Glen since coming over to Team Penske in 2013. He is also running the XFINITY Series race this weekend to help prepare him on the Cup side.
After being quickest in the opening practice on Friday, Clint Bowyer was only 32nd on the speed chart in final practice. His lap time was nearly three miles per hour off from the first round. Throughout a run, the No. 15 car didn’t lose much speed which is good if the race has long green flag runs.
The defending winner at Watkins Glen is AJ Allmendinger. The No. 47 car was second quickest in the opening practice but faded to 28th in final practice. Allmendinger is a road course specialist and the heavy favorite to win on Sunday. Qualifying will be important for the JTG Daugherty Racing team.
One of the surprises in both practice sessions was Sam Hornish Jr. Hornish is a good road course driver and has a couple of second-place finishes in the XFINITY Series at Watkins Glen. Hornish has just two top 10s all season long, one coming at the other road course Sonoma.
Tony Stewart hasn’t raced at Watkins Glen in three years due to unfortunate incidents in the past two seasons. Stewart is one of the best road course drivers in NASCAR history and needs a win in order to qualify for the Chase. Stewart is a five-time winner at Watkins Glen.
Qualifying will be very important on Saturday afternoon as track position is crucial at The Glen. The winner of the race normally comes from one of the top 10 starting positions.