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Twists and Turns of Watkins Glen for NASCAR

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – With five races remaining until the Playoff cutoff for the MONSTER Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the twist, turns, spins and winds of Watkins Glen International could be a deciding factor.

The 2.54-mile, eight-turn track with an elevation change of 110’ from the frontstretch to the carousel keep drivers, and fans, on edge in anticipations.

Chase Elliott is the defending winning scoring his first-ever Cup win here last season. He would go on to win two more races in 2018, but that first one is always the most memorable.

Of the active drivers, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex, Jr. are tied with four road course wins each. Busch has two at WGI and two at Sonoma Raceway. Truex as three at Sonoma and one at WGI.

They are on the for sure watch list this weekend. But, don’t look past Kevin Harvick. He’s notched his place in the Playoffs already with a win, but he’s also the 2006 winner at The Glen.

As far as overall points, reigning champion Joey Logano leads Busch by a mere six markers. Logano has two wins to Busch’s four as the final regular season race is run on September 8 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

One driver who has jumped in and out of the cutoff spot of 16th is seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. Heading into The Glen, he’s 17th and trailing 16th by 12 points.

To help bolster his push to the Playoffs, Hendrick Motorsports changed his crew chief bringing in race engineer Cliff Wheeler to call the shots a top the pit box.

“We have great confidence in Cliff’s ability to win races with Jimmie and the team,’’ said Rick Hendrick, team owner. “He’s a natural leader and tremendously talented from both a technical and communication standpoint.

“Cliff’s familiarity with Jimmie and the No. 48 team culture will benefit us a ton. He will bring the spark that’s been our missing ingredient.’’

You can see the race on NBCSN-TV on Sunday starting at 3 p.m. ET and hear it on MRN Radio. There is no on-track activity on Friday for Cup, but you can catch both practices on Saturday then qualifying after the Xfinity Series race.

Xfinity Fun at The Glen

Unlike their Cup counterparts, the NASCAR Xfinity Series will be on-track Friday but their will be no TV coverage. Coming into this race, it’s still the Big Three of Cole Custer, Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell dominating the series.

After banking 13 of the first 19 races of the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, the three turn their sights to the first, of four, road courses the series will compete on this year.

 In last season’s four road course events, Custer proved himself the best of the trio at turning both left and right. In the four events, he posted one top five and three top 10s compared to Bell’s one top 10 while Reddick had none.

Custer has the most experience at the 2.45-mile, seven-turn road course. He has made two series starts at The Glen, posting a sixth last year and an average finish of 9.0.

 Both Bell and Reddick made their series track debuts at Watkins Glen last season. Bell started 11th and finished ninth, Reddick qualified 27th and drove his way up to an 11th-place finish.

Tune in to NBC-TV on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET and MRN Radio for all the coverage.

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