The drivers who have combined for 16 wins in the first 21 races of the season have each recorded wins at Watkins Glen. And all three are in the top six in average finish at the track among drivers with more than one start. They’re going to be up front on Sunday barring chaos. It’s both remarkable and repetitive.
If you’re looking for a non-Big Three driver to win on Sunday, don’t look past these five drivers. However, this list comes with some caution as well. There aren’t any surprises on this list. While Watkins Glen may have a recent history of producing thrilling finishes, this year’s entry list doesn’t feature drivers like Marcos Ambrose, Robby Gordon or Juan Pablo Montoya.
Keselowski got three-straight second-place finishes in his first three races driving the No. 2 car. Since then things haven’t been as rosy. Keselowski has finished 35th, seventh, third and 15th since.
The good news is that Keselowski has led 75 laps over the last three races at Watkins Glen. He was in the lead late last year but pitted four laps ahead of Ryan Blaney and race-winner Martin Truex Jr. during the middle of the race. That didn’t work out as Keselowski had to pit for fuel with less than four laps to go.
But if Sunday’s race comes down to fuel mileage, Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe should be in the mix again with the goal of avoiding another run-in with Kyle Busch in the bus stop.
Logano’s 24th-place run in 2017 broke a string of four-straight top-seven finishes at Watkins Glen. Included in that was his win in 2015 when he took advantage of Kevin Harvick running out of fuel in the final corners of the race.
Logano has also finished third, first, first, and second in the last four Xfinity Series races at the Glen. He’s entered in Saturday’s race too. He’s got another good chance for a weekend double.
Busch has been very good at Watkins Glen since joining Stewart-Has Racing in 2014. In his four years with the team he’s run third, fifth, 11th and sixth. Not bad. He’s only led three laps in that span, however, so he hasn’t been dominant.
Hamlin won at Watkins Glen in 2016 and finished fourth a year ago. Those two races are quite the rebound from 2010-2015 when Hamlin had finishes of 37th, 36th, 34th, 19th, 24th and 27th. That’s an ugly, ugly stretch. Hamlin should be fast throughout the weekend and needs to get a win so he can have some bonus points in the playoffs.
Adding Allmendinger to a list of “road course contenders” is kind of cliche at this point. He’s only won one Cup Series road course race. But it came at Watkins Glen in 2014 and he has the best average finish of any active driver with multiple starts at the track. So he’s got to be on it.
Allmendinger has finished in the top 10 in six of the last seven races at Watkins Glen though he hasn’t led any laps since 2015. If his team hits on the setup this weekend he should be a contender. Otherwise he’ll probably be in the back half of the top 10.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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