The penultimate event of the NASCAR Cup Series regular season gets underway today with a trip to Watkins Glen International for the 2023 Go Bowling at The Glen. After a dominant performance from journeyman driver Michael McDowell at Indy, Bubba Wallace is now the driver on the cut line, sitting just 28 points ahead of Daniel Suarez. There are several great road course ringers sitting below the cut line, including Suarez, Chase Elliott, and AJ Allmendinger, just to name a few, so could we get yet another new winner today?
The Glen has been a part of NASCAR for many years now, first hosting a race back in 1957 and has been on the schedule nearly annually since 1986, producing many dramatic finishes along the way. Will Hendrick Motorsports continue their winning ways here? They’ve won the last four races at the Glen (Chase Elliott in 2018 and 2019, Kyle Larson in 2021 and 2022, no race held in 2020 due to COVID-19). Or will Ford continue their summer dominance and win for the fourth straight week? Find out this afternoon, with pre-race airing at 2:30 PM EST and green flag coverage beginning at 3 PM EST on the USA Network!
Driver to Fade:
With Noah Gragson out of the picture, a case can arguably made for Harrison Burton being the worst full-time driver, as he sits 30th in the point standings thanks to his 2 top 10 finishes this year while driving the #21 Ford for Wood Brothers Racing. Road courses have been a particularly weak spot for Burton, as he has yet to register a top 20 finish on one this season. Every once in a while, Burton seems to find speed AND not wreck in the process, but we don’t expect him to find any momentum on a track where he finished 28th in his lone start last year. Even with the late race carnage that road courses often produce, Burton will still finish outside the top 20 this afternoon.
Regardless of your opinions of him based on what we’ve seen from him in the Xfinity Series, Ty Gibbs has actually put together a quiet, drama-free rookie season in the Cup Series, with 1 top 5 and 6 top 10 finishes, good enough for an 18th place spot in the point standings this late in the season. Watkins Glen seems to suit Gibbs well, as he won here in the Xfinity Series in 2021 and put on absolute smoke shows each of the last three years in Xfinity before wrecking from the lead late both last year and in yesterday’s race. Gibbs has shown some speed on road courses in the Cup Series this season, finishing in the top 12 in 3 of the 4 races involving right turns. Gibbs rolls off the starting grid from 4th place today and there’s no reason he can’t bring home another top 12 finish on the season.
Michael McDowell won one for all of the little teams that could last week with his dominant victory at the Indy Road Course. McDowell is having an excellent season for Front Row Motorsports, with 1 win, 2 top 5’s, and 6 top 10 finishes. With his second trip to the playoffs now set in stone, McDowell can focus on trophy hunting this week and next week at tracks where he can legitimately win. McDowell has been solid on the four road courses this season, with 1 win, 3 top 10’s, and 4 top 12’s. McDowell hasn’t had a ton of success at Watkins Glen, but he did finish 6th here last year. With his success this year and momentum from last week, McDowell will be a threat for the win and there’s no reason why he can’t bring home another top 10 today.
Tyler Reddick has had a solid season, with 1 win, 7 top 5’s, and 10 top 10’s, but you can’t help but believe that he’s underachieved, as he’s also had 8 finishes of 25th or worse. 3 of Reddick’s 4 career Cup Series wins have come on road courses, so he certainly knows his way around a right turn. Reddick has 1 win, 2 top 5’s, and 2 finishes of 25th or worse in 4 road course starts this season, so it has certainly been feast or famine for him. Reddick has finished in the top 10 in both of his previous starts here and will roll out from the 8th starting spot today. He may not have been the fastest so far this weekend, but we predict that Reddick will get better as the day goes on and bring home his second victory of the season and his first victory at Watkins Glen!