Kevin Harvick after his win at Richmond (Va.) Raceway last season. (HHP/Andrew Coppley)

Watkins Glen Notes: Harvick Goes For Three In A Row

Two weeks ago, the narrative was, “When will Kevin Harvick win again?”

Now, as the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, it’s become, “Can Harvick be stopped?”

After reeling off two victories in the span of two weeks, the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford is the hottest driver in the Cup Series. 

As Harvick looks for a threepeat this weekend, it’s worth noting the last time he accomplished that feat was in 2018 (Atlanta Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Phoenix Raceway). 

However, he’ll have his work cut out for him this weekend at the 2.45-mile road course. Harvick hasn’t won at the famed upstate New York facility since 2006 when he was Richard Childress Racing.

Raikkonen’s Cup Series Debut

Arguably the biggest storyline heading into Watkins Glen, is 2007 Formula 1 champion Kimi Raikkonen’s maiden race in NASCAR’s top series. Raikkonen will pilot the No. 91 for Trackhouse Racing, in a program called Project91, aimed to give international racing stars an opportunity in the Cup Series. 

Raikkonen’s paint scheme for this weekend at Watkins Glen. (Trackhouse Racing)

Raikkonen hasn’t competed in a NASCAR-sanctioned event since 2011, when he raced in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Truck Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 

His only time in the car before the green flag drops on practice Saturday morning, was last week at Virginia International Raceway in a Next Gen car test. 

Only time will tell how the Finnish driver will adapt to the stock car, however, he’ll be one to watch throughout the weekend. 

Playoff Watch

The battle for the 16th and final spot in the NASCAR Playoffs rages on.

After a solid run for both drivers last week at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, 26 points separate Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. 

Blaney, who received a contract extension on Wednesday, currently holds 16th.

Though with two races left, at wildcard tracks Watkins Glen and Daytona International Speedway, Blaney is feeling anything but comfortable. 

Under The Radar

Front Row Motorsports’ Michael McDowell is a driver to watch at the Glen. McDowell’s open-wheel/road course background may benefit the 2021 Daytona 500 winner mightily. 

This season, McDowell has notched three top-10 finishes on road courses, with a best-finish of third at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in June. 

August 13, 2022:  at Richmond Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. (HHP/Chris Owens)
Chris Buescher earned his second top five of the season Sunday at RIchmond. (HHP/Chris Owens)

RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher may also be a driver who could spoil the playoff party. Buescher, fresh off a third-place result at Richmond, has momentum heading into Watkins Glen.

The driver of the No. 17 also has three top-10 efforts on road courses this season, coming up one spot shy to Daniel Suarez at Sonoma. 

One of the most consistent drivers as of late has been Bubba Wallace. The 23XI Racing driver earned his first pole at Michigan International Speedway, before finishing second to Harvick.

Wallace should have a more positive outlook heading into Watkins Glen, after notching his first top-five finish on a road course last month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.