Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. are running out of time and playoff space.
Going into Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, the two drivers remain the primary contestants for the final spot in the 16-driver field for the playoffs. Blaney has a 26-point advantage over Truex with two races left in the regular season.
But Watkins Glen, a road course, represents a wild card. Supposedly.
WGI is the fifth of six road course races on the NASCAR Cup schedule. Very rarely does it provide surprises.
Only once in the last 11 races there has a race winner started outside the top six (Joey Logano in 2015, 16th). Truex was one of them, winning in 2017. Since then, Truex hasn’t finished outside the top three in the four races held at WGI.
Blaney on the other hand has never finished better than fifth in five WGI starts.
Both drivers are in their current playoff predicament because they’ve failed to win so far this season.
Given recent history, there’s a nearly 50 / 50 shot that there’ll be a first time winner Sunday. Since 2010, of the 11 races held at WGI, five were marked by a driver earning their first win of the season. The most recent was Chase Elliott in 2018 when he claimed his first career NASCAR Cup win.
Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen will be a record day for NASCAR.
Among the 39 drivers who will compete, six will be from a foreign country, the most in NASCAR Cup history.
That includes Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez, a native of Mexico.
But the headline name this weekend is Kimi Räikkönen, the 2007 Formula One champion, who hails from Finland.
With full entry list now out, there will be drivers from SEVEN countries represented in Sunday's race at Watkins Glen. Will be the most in NASCAR history.— Josh Hamilton (@joshahamilton) August 15, 2022
You may have missed it, but during Sunday’s race at Richmond, Dale Earnhardt Jr. accidentally called RFK Racing driver Chris Buescher by the name of Christopher.
But Buescher ran with it. Earlier this week he challenged Twitter and it rose to the occasion.
For this weekend’s race at Watkins Glen, Buescher will have a new nameplate on his No. 17 car.
The name’s Buescher, Christopher Buescher.
Last Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Richmond Raceway, broadcast on USA Network, earned an average of 2.390 million viewers and a .145 rating.
That’s up 34% from last year’s second Richmond race. But that race was held on Saturday night and broadcast on NBCSN.
Richmond was the sixth consecutive Cup race to have an increase over the corresponding race from last year.