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Drivers to watch in NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen

Watch Dale Earnhardt Jr. calls the best moments of the NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway.

Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International is the next-to-last event on the regular season schedule.

The 220-mile race will offer one of the last two opportunities for drivers to win and earn a spot on the playoff grid. Fifteen drivers have won races, leaving one position open.

Ryan Blaney holds the 16th spot and leads Martin Truex Jr. by 26 points for that position.

Kevin Harvick won last Sunday’s race at Richmond Raceway and will be eyeing a third straight victory Sunday at Watkins Glen. The regular season is scheduled to end Aug. 27 at Daytona International Speedway.

Drivers to watch on the 2.45-mile road course Sunday:


Martin Truex Jr.

  • Points position: 4th
  • Last three races: 7th at Richmond, 6th at Michigan, 21st at Indianapolis
  • Past at Watkins Glen: Four straight top-three finishes. Has led laps in six straight races.

Sunday could be “now or never” for Truex. He needs to make significant point gains on Ryan Blaney or win one of the final two regular-season races to make the playoffs. The Glen is one of Truex’s best tracks. He won there in 2017.

Kevin Harvick

  • Points position: 8th
  • Last three races: Won at Richmond, won at Michigan, 33rd at Indianapolis
  • Past at Watkins Glen: Won there in 2006.

Harvick currently is the exact definition of “front runner.” He has won two consecutive races and will be among the favorites Sunday. He has three straight top-10 finishes at the Glen.

Tyler Reddick

  • Points position: 14th
  • Last three races: 31st at Richmond, 29th at Michigan, won at Indianapolis
  • Past at Watkins Glen: 10th in his first Cup race at the track last year.

Reddick has been a superstar on road courses this season. He has wins at Indianapolis and Road America and has four top fives in the past five road races.


Chase Elliott

  • Points position: 1st
  • Last three races: 5th at Richmond, 11th at Michigan, 16th at Indianapolis
  • Past at Watkins Glen: Wins in 2018 and 2019

Elliott rebounded a bit last Sunday at Richmond with a fifth-place finish after failing to reach the top 10 at Michigan and Indianapolis. In the previous six races, he had finished no worse than second. The Glen is an Elliott favorite. Can he repeat performances that have earned him two wins and three straight top twos there?

William Byron

  • Points position: 10th
  • Last three races: 11 at Richmond, 12th at Michigan, 31st at Indianapolis
  • Past at Watkins Glen: Best finish of sixth in three starts

Byron’s season has been generally mediocre since he scored his second win of the year in the eighth race of the season at Martinsville. Since that checkered flag, he has scored only one top 10 (in 16 races).

Kimi Raikkonen

  • Points position: Not applicable
  • Last three races: Not applicable
  • Past at Watkins Glen: Sunday’s race will be his Cup debut.

Raikkonen, the 2007 Formula 1 champion and winner of 21 F1 races, certainly will be worth watching at the Glen as he races for Trackhouse Racing as part of its Project 91 effort. He has never run a Cup race, but his skills might translate well to the Next Gen car. He’ll have a lot to learn in a short period.