Sunday, Oct 01

Ford Performance - Watkins Glen International Advance

The NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series travel East to the New York Finger Lakes region to complete consecutive weeks of road course racing with Watkins Glen International. The NASCAR Playoff outlook grows more intense in the final regular season events, as Mustang currently holds six Cup and two Xfinity spots above the cutline. Team Penske's Joey Logano has notably seen a lot of success at The Glen, which includes a weekend sweep in the 2015 season.



There are only two races remaining in the NASCAR Cup Series regular season and four Ford drivers have officially clinched postseason berths after Michael McDowell's win on Sunday. He joins fellow winners Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Chris Buescher while Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski remain above the cutline in points.


Chris Buescher’s streak of top-10 finishes on road courses barely came to an end on Sunday at Indianapolis as his 11th-place run ended his streak at eight. Buescher’s average finish, including Sunday’s result, is a sparkling 7.3 in those events.


2023 Indy – P11

2023 Chicago – P10

2023 Sonoma – P4

2023 COTA – P8

2022 Roval – P6

2022 Watkins Glen – P9

2022 Indy – P10

2022 Road America – P6

2022 Sonoma – P2

Brad Keselowski: “The Glen is its own track. It’s got banking, it’s got high-speeds, and most road courses don’t have that, so there's not a ton that carries over. A little bit with some braking stuff, but not much. Long green flag runs, aggressive battling on restarts, especially through the bus stop and then probably fuel mileage at the end. I’ve finished second there three years in a row (2011-2013), and I remember just thinking, ‘Darn, I should have won one of these races.’”

Ryan Blaney: “I think there are some things you can take (from one road course to another). The Glen is different – a ton of elevation, a lot of grip. Sonoma has more elevation than The Glen, but the surfaces are so much different, so you really can’t take much from there. You’re so much faster at The Glen. One of the biggest things that you try to get good at but you can’t really predict at any other road course is the bus stop at The Glen. That’s a huge place to make time and how your car reacts off the curbs – kind of jumping all four tires. It’s hard to really learn anywhere else because there is no other place you really do that. I think there are some things you can take: Like from Indy, heavy braking zones. There are places that you can really take road course to road course like how your car reacts under heavy braking zones. I think that’s one of the biggest things we look for when we go to these road courses – comparing and trying to learn for each one is how your car brakes. Your Turn 1 and 7 at Indy, that’s kind of the same like Turn 1 into Watkins Glen… I think it’s 10 off the back-stretch. I think those are the basics you take away.”

Ryan Preece: “Yeah, so from a road course perspective, I didn’t run Formula 1, IndyCar or V8 Supercars, but it’s always something I’ve enjoyed because of my short track background – heavy braking and the downshifting. All those little things you do as a race car driver. The road course races are ones I look forward to being aggressive and having good days.”

Chase Briscoe: “It’ll be nice to sort of be in that road course rhythm. I don’t think at any other time in the year we run back-to-back like this, so it’ll be nice to be in that mindset moving forward. Last year, we were actually really good there, but just got caught up in a wreck. We won the first stage and then just fell apart after the wreck. We had speed there last year, so hopefully we can have speed again this year. That’s a track where you can definitely play some strategy and do some things. I’m looking forward to it. I always feel like it’s always a beautiful weekend up there, so it should be a good.”

Austin Cindric: “Watkins really only has two left-handers, so it’s probably one of the more asymmetrical places you go to. Last year’s qualifying was really intense. You can really push the car quite hard and be very aggressive. It’s a very high-speed racetrack on very high loads. There are not a lot of braking opportunities, so you’re really getting the back-spin of the tires and the chassis less than the brakes.”


Joey Logano became the first driver to sweep a NASCAR Xfinity/Cup weekend at Watkins Glen International when he did it in 2015. Fuel mileage ended up deciding the Cup race as leader Kevin Harvick ran out on the last turn, which allowed Logano to pass him and make it to the finish line first. The win was Logano’s first on a road course and also marked the first series triumph for car owner Roger Penske at the historic track.



One of the all-time classic finishes at Watkins Glen International came when Marcos Ambrose went slip sliding away on the final lap, but still resulted in him winning the NASCAR Cup Series race for the second straight time on August 12, 2012. In a race that had more twists and turns over the final three laps than many can remember in recent years, Ambrose was the one who survived a massive streak of oil that had been laid down on the track, allowing him to pass Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski for Ford’s third win of the season. Busch appeared to be headed toward victory, but as he came into turn one on the final lap, he slipped in some oil and got loose. Keselowski came up from behind and hit Busch, sending him spinning off the track. A battle between Ambrose and Keselowski ensued from that point with both drivers trying to avoid the slickness that had covered the course. Ambrose followed Keselowski through the grass at one point, but was able to get by in the treacherous carousel when Keselowski slid one final time.



Mark Martin became the first driver to win three straight NASCAR Cup Series races at Watkins Glen International, and he capped that streak on Aug. 13, 1995 after passing Wally Dallenbach, Jr. on lap 84 of the 90-lap event. Martin, who led a race-high 61 circuits overall, held off the road racing specialist to win by one second. That victory completed a three-year run that saw him not only sit on the pole every time but lead 183-of-270 laps (68%).


When Chemung, NY, native Geoffrey Bodine took the checkered flag in the No. 7 QVC Ford Thunderbird on Aug. 11, 1996 he established a strategy that hadn’t been used to that point.  He, along with crew chief Paul Andrews, employed an “only stop when you have to” strategy and that resulted in making only two stops in the 90-lap event, compared to three for everyone else.  Bodine passed Ken Schrader with eight laps to go and then held off Terry Labonte over the final laps to win.  That marked the 18th and final victory of his NASCAR Cup Series career, and it came in front of his hometown fans.



The first time Ford won a NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International was when Marvin Panch drove the Wood Brothers to victory on July 18, 1965. There were only 19 cars in the field that day and it proved to be a Ford show as all 66 laps were led by three drivers sporting the Blue Oval. Ned Jarrett, who finished second, led the first lap before Junior Johnson passed him on lap 2. Johnson led the pack for 12 circuits until his engine blew, which enabled Panch to inherit a lead he never gave up, going the final 53 laps and making it first to the checkered flag. The win was Panch’s fourth of the season and next-to-last in his career, which ended with 17 victories.



Saturday’s race will be Riley Herbst’s third career NASCAR Xfinity Series start at Watkins Glen International. In his previous two, he’s started in the top 10 both times with finishes of 13th and 7th. Likewise, Cole Custer has had great consistency, posting an average finish of 9.0 in his four series starts with a best finish of 6th in 2018.

Ford Performance PR


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