TWO RACES, ONE SPOT REMAINS
Playoff pressure continues to intensify as just two opportunities remain for drivers to either win or point their way into a playoff spot and the chance to compete for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship title. For the first time in the series’ history, 15 different drivers have made their way to victory lane this season; and with only 16 spots in the playoff field, the “win and you’re in” approach could potentially become irrelevant with two races remaining in the series’ regular season.
Items to note of Chevrolet drivers on the current playoff grid heading into Watkins Glen:
· Following last weekend’s race at Richmond Raceway, 10 drivers officially secured their spots into the 2022 NCS playoff field, with five coming from the bowtie brand. Drivers that have clinched met either of the two following requirements:
Any driver with multiple wins: Chase Elliott (4 wins), Ross Chastain (2), William Byron (2) and Tyler Reddick (2).
One-time winners that mathematically cannot be eliminated: Kyle Larson
· A familiar face atop the NCS playoff grid throughout the season, Chevrolet’s Chase Elliott could potentially clinch the 2022 NCS Regular Season Championship at the track that gave him his first career NCS win. Elliott needs to leave Watkins Glen with a 61-point lead over second-place. With Elliott currently sitting at 116-points over second-place Ryan Blaney in the driver points standings, his first career NCS Regular Season Championship Title is at arms reach.
PROJECT91 READY FOR COMPETITION DEBUT
Trackhouse Racing has taken the NASCAR world by storm, scoring its first win in NASCAR’s premier series in just the organization’s second season. Now sitting at three wins and both of its drivers currently in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff field, Trackhouse Racing will debut its latest venture at Watkins Glen this weekend: PROJECT91.
Trackhouse Racing’s Founder and Owner, Justin Marks, developed PROJECT91 with the ultimate goal of international reach through fielding a third entry - on a limited schedule - with renowned international drivers behind the wheel. 2007 Formula One World Champion Kimi Räikkönen will be piloting the No. 91 Recogni/iLOQ Camaro ZL1 this weekend at Watkins Glen to become the first driver to join PROJECT91.
Räikkönen has one title (2007), 21 race wins and 103 podium finishes in his Formula One career, with 2021 being his final year of competition in the series. While this weekend will mark his first career start in NASCAR’s premier series, Räikkönen has previously competed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, recording starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May 2011.
BACK TO WORK AT THE GLEN
Coming off their final off weekend of the season, the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) gets back on the road, joining the NASCAR Cup Series for a doubleheader race weekend in upstate New York. Saturday’s Sunoco Go Rewards 200 at The Glen marks the fifth road course circuit of 2022 for the series.
In the four races featuring left- and right-hand turns for the NXS this season, Chevrolet has made its way to victory lane three times, all with the “King of the Road”, AJ Allmendinger, behind the wheel. Allmendinger’s most recent win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course marked his series-leading ninth career NXS road course victory. Scoring a double digit NXS road course win at Watkins Glen would be extra special for the 40-year-old Kaulig Racing driver as the New York circuit is also the place that delivered him his first career win in NASCAR’s premier series. That monumental feat came with the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet team in 2014, which also gave Allmendinger his first appearance in the playoffs.
Of the 27 races that Watkins Glen has hosted for the NXS, Chevrolet has made its way to victory lane 10 times, including a streak of eight consecutive wins.. dating from a win by Terry Labonte in 1994 through Ron Fellow’s triumph in 2001.
CHEVROLET’S NCWTS PLAYOFF CONTENDERS LEAD THE CHARGE AT RICHMOND
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) playoffs are in full swing, with last weekend’s 250-lap race under the lights at Richmond Raceway marking race two of three in the Round of 10. Chevrolet’s two playoff contenders led the bowtie brigade to two top-10 finishes at the Virginia short track.
GMS Racing’s Grant Enfinger led the charge for Chevrolet at Richmond, piloting his No. 23 Chevrolet Silverado RST to a fourth-place finish for the team’s fifth top-five finish of 2022. While Enfinger has already advanced to the NCWTS Round of Eight following his win in the playoff opener at the Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, Enfinger showcased consistency throughout the race, capturing valuable stage points following top-five finishes in both stages.
Carson Hocevar rounded out the Team Chevy top-10, driving his No. 42 Niece Motorsports Silverado RST to the team’s 10th top-10 finish of the season. The finish didn’t come easy for the young Chevrolet driver, with Hocevar enduring a late-race incident before battling back to salvage a 10th-place finish. Hocevar will enter the NCWTS Round of 10 elimination race at Kansas Speedway below the cutline, but just three points out of the eighth position.
The NCWTS will return to action at Kansas Speedway on September 9, where the 1.5-mile venue will host the series’ playoffs Round of 10 elimination race. The 134-lap, 201-mile race will reduce the playoff field from 10 drivers to 8 in the pursuit to the championship title.
· Active Chevrolet drivers that have scored a win at Watkins Glen International:
Chase Elliott, No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet - 2 (2018, 2019)
Kyle Larson, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet - 1 (2021)
AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet - 1 (2014)
· Chevrolet has recorded wins in 14 of the last 15 NASCAR Cup Series road course races, including a streak of the past 10. In that timespan, six drivers from four different Chevrolet teams have contributed to those wins.
· In 38 NASCAR Cup Series races held at Watkins Glen International, Chevrolet has recorded a manufacturer-leading 20 wins, including the past three. That streak started with Chase Elliott’s first career NCS win (2018), with the Georgia native going back-to-back in 2019. Elliott’s teammate, Kyle Larson, is heading to Watkins Glen as the most recent NCS winner at the circuit (2021).
· Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins (eight) and pole wins (seven) at Watkins Glen International, all recorded behind the wheel of a Chevrolet.
· Chase Elliott has recorded seven road course victories in his NASCAR Cup Series career; the most of all active NCS drivers. Elliott ranks third on the NCS all-time road course wins list behind NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon (nine wins) and Tony Stewart (eight wins). Elliott’s victories have been recorded at five different road courses, a record in series’ history.
· Of the five first time NASCAR Cup Series winners in 2022, three have come from the bowtie brigade. The most recent is Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick, who drove his No. 8 Camaro ZL1 to the win at Road America. Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez also captured their first career win in NASCAR’s premier series this season, both of which were recorded on road course circuits (Chastain – COTA; Suarez – Sonoma).
· Chevrolet heads into the Watkins Glen race weekend with a manufacturer-leading 13 NASCAR Cup Series wins in 24 points-paying races. The bowtie brand also continues to lead its manufacturer competitors in NCS top-fives (55), top-10s (103), laps led (2,904) and stage wins (21).
· Seven Team Chevy drivers have combined 21 NASCAR Cup Series stage wins:
Tyler Reddick 2 - Fontana x2
Alex Bowman 1 - Las Vegas
Ross Chastain 4 - Las Vegas, Darlington, Charlotte, Pocono, Richmond
William Byron 3 – Phoenix, Atlanta, Talladega
Daniel Suarez 2 – COTA, Charlotte
Chase Elliott 3 – Martinsville x2, Charlotte, Atlanta x2
Kyle Larson 3 – Bristol, Sonoma, Pocono
· Chevrolet leads the driver points standing in both the NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Chase Elliott remains in the top position in the NCS standings with a 116-point lead over second; and AJ Allmendinger continues to lead the NXS standings by 19 points. Chevrolet also remains atop both the NCS and NXS manufacturer points standings.
· With its 40 NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturer Championships, 33 NASCAR Cup Series Driver Championships, and 827 all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins, Chevrolet continues to hold the title of winningest brand in NASCAR.
FOR THE FANS
· Fans can visit the Team Chevy Racing Display in the Fan Midway at Watkins Glen International.
· Fans can check out an assortment of Chevrolet vehicles including: 2023 Corvette Stingray Convertible, 2020 Camaro LT1 Coupe, 2022 Equinox RS, 2022 Blazer RS, 2022 Traverse RS, 2022 Tahoe Z71, Silverado ZR2, 2022 Silverado 1500 Crew High Country.
TEAM CHEVY QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSIONS AT THE DISPLAY:
Saturday, August 20
· Jeremy Clements: 9:00 a.m.
· Jeb Burton: 12:00 p.m.
· Sheldon Creed and Austin Hill: 12:45 p.m.
· Josh Berry & Sam Mayer: 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 21
· Ross Chastain: 11:00 a.m.
· Ty Dillon: 11:30 a.m.
· Corey LaJoie: 11:45 a.m.
Chevrolet Display Hours of Operation:
Friday, August 19: 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Saturday, August 20: 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 21: 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
USA Network will broadcast the NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling at The Glen at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 21. Live coverage can also be found on the NBCSports Gold App, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
USA Network will broadcast the NASCAR Xfinity Series Race at Watkins Glen at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 20. Live coverage can also be found on the NBCSports Gold App, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 WORLDWIDE EXPRESS CAMARO ZL1
What makes Watkins Glen different from the other road courses?
"Watkins Glen is higher in grip than most places. It seems simple, but it’s actually more technical because there is so much grip. It’s simple when it comes to the turns but that means all of the inputs are much more important. It will be hard to pass so there's a high risk of contact when it comes to passing."
What have your interactions with Kimi been like?
"He's talked more in the time I've met with him in person, than I've ever heard him in all of the interviews I've seen (laughs) and I've watched him for a very long time."
What do you enjoy about Watkins Glen?
"The history of the track carries it. You look back at how many drivers have driven there, not just in NASCAR, but all forms of motorsports. The beginnings of the Watkins Glen racing scene and where they used to race on the streets and over by the lake, that's cool. Thinking about how many world class drivers went down the frontstretch, turned up through the esses and went through the bus stop. I hope one day to run the boot. I know we won't do that in NASCAR, but I hope to do it one day and extract that last little bit of lap time out. The boot layout would be on my bucket list."
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 BASS PRO SHOPS / TRACKER OFF ROAD CAMARO ZL1
How do you prepare for a racetrack like Watkins Glen International?
“A lot of time in the simulator, going over notes and watching old races. We try to make sure we are putting in the work beforehand. We’ve been working really hard on our road course program the last few years. Watkins Glen is a really fast, aggressive track. You can gain a lot by getting after it on the braking zones and it’s just a high-speed place with all of the grip in the pavement.”
Another road course race this weekend. Another wild card?
“Yeah, for sure. The road courses have turned into wildcard races. Taking care of your stuff, trying to make it to the end of these things becomes a demo-derby out there. This is going to be one of those ones that if you stay on track, you’re going to have a pretty good run. I have a lot of optimism going into Watkins Glen this year, though, because our road course program has been solid and we’ve put a lot of work in during the off season.”
KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1
Larson on the difference going from the NASCAR Xfinity Series car to the NASCAR Cup Series car:
"At Road America, the braking points were pretty similar, which was surprising. I thought the Cup car would brake much deeper. I hope it’s the same this weekend at Watkins Glen (International) because it would really, really help getting into a rhythm quickly for the entire weekend."
CLIFF DANIELS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1
Daniels on the benefit of Larson running the Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen International:
"I think him getting the track time is great – not really because of his skill and abilities, but for him to understand the grip level. I know he is going to be fast in the Xfinity car and I know he is going to be fast in our car, but having the extra time to understand the grip level and other nuances of the track that’s different from a year ago. We do have recent test data to go off of and feedback from those tests – but nothing replaces actual track time and the condition of the track and how we approach it."
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 KELLEY BLUE BOOK CAMARO ZL1
Elliott on racing at Watkins Glen:
"Watkins Glen (International) was where I got my first win so it’s of course a place that holds some great memories for me. We’ve had a good amount of success there as a team and I feel like this year we’ve come a long way in our road course program with the new car. This is a track that I feel like we can really go and have a good run and get some momentum back heading into the playoffs."
ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 9 KELLEY BLUE BOOK CAMARO ZL1
Gustafson on this weekend’s race at Watkins Glen:
"Certainly the last three years have been good for our team at Watkins Glen (International). We’ve been really competitive there and we feel like this is another opportunity for us to go out there and have a good race. Our focus will be winning and ultimately trying to get some more playoff points. That’s the key. This is a track we should be able to do that at. Hopefully that will come to fruition and put us in a good position for the playoffs."
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 RAPTORTOUGH.COM CAMARO ZL1
Byron on why he enjoys racing at Watkins Glen:
"Honestly Watkins Glen (international) is one of the most fun race tracks we go to as a driver because it’s so fast. It’s not like a lot of the other road courses we go to that have much slower zones and such aggressive braking. Watkins Glen almost really feels like a superspeedway for road courses. I got to test there earlier this year in the Next Gen car and I think it’s just as fun of a road course in these cars compared to last year’s. I’m excited that I get extra track time this weekend there too with being able to run Xfinity on Saturday. It will make for a full day, but I think it will be beneficial to get those extra laps before Sunday’s race in similar race conditions. Plus, I want to be able to get Mr. Hendrick a win in the No. 17, especially since they’ve been so close this year already."
RUDY FUGLE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 RAPTORTOUGH.COM CAMARO ZL1
Fugle on the preparation by the No. 24 team for Watkins Glen:
"I think our race last year at Watkins Glen (International) went well but I always think there’s room to improve. Since then, we have really worked on improving not only our road course racing notes but especially now with the Next Gen car and getting up to speed there. We’ll be utilizing the same tire Sunday that we have for most of the other road course races this year, so we have a good notebook built up on how they will react over a run. We also were able to test there earlier this year and had a lot of positive feedback while we were there. I think we’re more prepared for this race than we have been earlier this year on road courses. The main difference is how much faster this track is compared to the other road courses on the schedule. Downforce really plays a factor and so does handling, but I think that’s where our testing notes will really come into play."
TY DILLON, NO. 42 ALLEGIANT CAMARO ZL1
With momentum on your side after two impressive runs in a row, what makes you believe you can carry this into Watkins Glen?
"I personally enjoy road course racing and always see these types of tracks as an opportunity to put together some great runs at. Momentum is a real thing that can help serve as a big morale booster during this part of the season, and we are going to keep building on ours with everyone on my No. 42 Allegiant team.”
RICKY STENHOUSE JR., NO. 47 SUGARLANDS / BALL PARK BUNS CAMARO ZL1
“I feel like our chances at Watkins Glen may be better because it’s one of my better road courses I go to. We’ve had a decent trend on finishes at road courses and I feel good going there. It’s fun seeing all the fans that come out for this race all around the track. It’s getting to be the end of summer and they are enjoying the best weather. We’re focused on putting together a good race because we want to have a solid race to go into Daytona.”
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1
Bowman on his expectations heading to Watkins Glen:
"We have had good runs on road courses this season, but each track has its challenges, so I look at them one at a time. Hendrick Motorsports has had a lot of speed on road courses, and I have run a few extra races. Whether it was in the No. 7 Spire truck or the No. 17 Chevy Camaro in Xfinity, I had the opportunity to get more time on road courses, which I think has helped me this season. I will prepare like I have every week and make sure I give Greg (Ives, crew chief) all the feedback he needs to get the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the right place and we will go compete on Sunday."
GREG IVES, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1
Ives on the strength of Hendrick Motorsports at road courses this season:
"We have had speed every time we have raced at a road course this year and it goes to show how talented our team is back at the shop at building exceptional race cars. We had a No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 capable of winning at Circuit of The Americas and had a great car at Road America, so I know we will have another great car this weekend at Watkins Glen International. Alex (Bowman) continues to do his homework and our team is matching his effort as we get ready to head up to New York and try to get Hendrick Motorsports a win on a road course this year."
KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN, NO. 91 RECOGNI CAMARO ZL1
How did Justin Marks convince you to do this?
“At first I wasn’t really looking into this in a serious way. Obviously, we had more talks about how it would work, where the race would be and all sorts of things. It was just one race so it made sense for all of us as a family. I enjoyed it when I had my few races there (2011). Hopefully I'll have a good race and good fun. There are new cars there and I have never been at the track and things like that, but I am sure we can figure it out quickly.”
Will your Formula One and road course experience be an advantage Sunday?
"I don’t think so. It’s a new track for me and the cars are completely new. F1 cars are completely different. Looking at how these new cars are in NASCAR it compares more to Australian V8s. We will go and see how it is. I'm sure we will do fine.”
DANIEL SUAREZ, NO. 99 PRINCESS CRUISES CAMARO ZL1
How nice is it to be locked in the playoffs?
"It is nice, but I am going to be honest, in my mind I am already in the playoffs. I have had that mindset over the last six weeks. I believe it is not possible to go into the playoffs and flip the switch and say, 'okay, we are in the playoffs, now we have to push hard'. I don't think it works like that and you kind of have to start building that up. And I feel like that is what we have been doing, especially with the 99 team. That shows on the track because the last two months we have had race cars capable of finishing in the top five every single week."
You should be one of the favorites on Sunday?
"I agree. We have been really fast at every road course this year. Ross won at COTA and we won Sonoma, both of us were in the top five at Road America and we were second and third in overtime at Indy. I expect to be just as fast Sunday at Watkins Glen."
How will your new teammate Kimi Räikkönen do on Sunday?
"I think he is going to be fast. The speed is there and the racing part is going to be a process because it doesn't matter how much you practice in the simulator; doesn't matter how many tests you do - the racing part is the racing part. It’s different and he doesn't know all these drivers. He doesn't know how they race, he doesn't know how aggressive they are, so that part is going to take a little bit. You can bring the best driver in the world and it is going to take some time in the racing part. I think (as far as) the speed, I think he is going to be good."