AJ Allmendinger excels on the road course. Yesterday in opening practice the No. 47 finished the first practice session in the second position. In the second practice he was a disappointing 28th.Qualifying was a different story as he was quickest in both rounds and he will lead the field to green on Sunday.
“I love road course racing,” said Allmendinger. “’I just enjoy it. We haven’t had the best of seasons, but we’ve won both road course poles. On Friday, I wasn’t happy with my car and I was worried with what we had to work with. Now, I’m looking forward to Sunday.”
Allmendinger was over a tenth of a second quicker than his nearest competitor. He is looking to steal a Chase birth away from the rest of the field with a win at Watkins Glen, something that he did last year.
“They had to pick me up for sure.” “I wasn’t good yesterday, but we sat down after and we debriefed as a group and learned what was good and what was bad. Today was a strong day. To be over a tenth of a second quicker in the Sprint Cup Series is a lot.”
Former Sonoma winner, Martin Truex, Jr. will start alongside of Allmendinger on Sunday afternoon. Truex has taken his road racing to a whole new level in the past couple of years. He is looking forward to Sunday’s race.
“I feel good about it,” Truex said of his second-place qualifying run. “I felt like we had a sixth or seventh place car yesterday and I felt like we could pick up. I thought hard last night about how to hit my marks and making sure today I didn’t push too hard. Typically here, I run really well and have a fast car but overdrive it in qualifying. Last night was all about telling myself, [here’s your marks, don’t miss your marks going in the braking zones] and it worked out good for us today.”
On Sunday, Tony Stewart will be making his first start at the Glen since 2012. Stewart is starting from the third position and is looking to really turn his season around. Last Sunday in Pocono, Stewart scored just his second top-10 finish of the season.
Kevin Harvick will begin Sunday’s race from the fourth position. Harvick is a former winner at Watkins Glen back in 2006. Last season, Harvick had a quick Chevrolet but had to make an unscheduled pit stop on Lap 4 because a weight that his team forgot to take out of the car was rolling around inside of his racecar.
In his final start at Watkins Glen, Jeff Gordon will see the green flag from the fifth position. Gordon is a four-time winner at Watkins Glen and is looking to secure his birth into the Chase. Last year Gordon was leading when his car lost power. Of course Gordon would enjoy going out on top at the Glen.
The hottest driver in NASCAR, Kyle Busch will lineup from the eighth position. Busch had to make two separate runs in qualifying because on his first run slower traffic came up in front of him on the race track. Busch is looking for his fifth checkered flag in the last seven Sprint Cup races.
Justin Allgaier was the only surprise driver to advance to the final round. The No. 51 is starting in the 12th position.
Three out-of-the four Joe Gibbs Racing cars failed to make the second round of qualifying. They were led by Denny Hamlin who will start 13th, Carl Edwards 15th and Matt Kenseth 26th. Edwards is the only driver out of those three to have previously won on a road course and that was out in northern California.
Clint Bowyer was quickest in opening practice on Friday afternoon. Bowyer has always been good on the road courses and he is starting in the 18th position.
Sunday’s Sprint Cup race will be one for the ages. The past four races at Watkins Glen have ended in thrilling fashion. It is a prime opportunity for a team that has yet to win clinch their spot into the Chase.