ThatsRacin

NASCAR: Watkins Glen International at a glance

Dale Earnhardt Jr., right, shares a laugh with Jeff Gordon in the garage area Friday at Watkins Glen International during practice for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race in Watkins Glen, N.Y. Gordon came out of retirement to fill in for Earnhardt.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., right, shares a laugh with Jeff Gordon in the garage area Friday at Watkins Glen International during practice for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race in Watkins Glen, N.Y. Gordon came out of retirement to fill in for Earnhardt. AP

Everything you need to know about Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 At The Glen at Watkins Glen International, in three minutes:

Three things to watch

1. Watkins Glen’s road course is one of NASCAR’s “wild card” tracks, especially with the race being as close as it is to the end of the regular season. Another first-time winner is possible, which would further muddy the possibilities for those non-winners hoping to make the Chase.

2. Unlike a week ago at Pocono, rain (10-percent chance) won’t be a factor Sunday. And with warm temperatures (in the 80s) expected, Watkins Glen’s recently repaved road course figures to be pretty slick, which is what many drivers like.

3. Will somebody else clinch a spot in the Chase on Sunday? Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin all did after Monday’s race at Pocono. That brings to 10 the number of drivers who are assured a spot in the postseason (all 10 have at least one victory).

Observations

▪  It says something about the mindset of drivers such as Brad Keselowski that he can be back in the car just 10 days after a bad crash during a practice lap at Watkins Glen. Keselowski’s Ford went head first into a safer barrier in Turn 1 and he walked away unscathed. Now he’s back.

▪  Jeff Gordon, who turned 45 Thursday, hits another milestone Sunday, but it’s one he didn’t expect. He’ll make his 800th-career start, although he’s doing it during what was to be his retirement season, as a substitute driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Matt Kenseth will also make his 600th-career start.

▪  Furniture Row Racing has called a news conference for Sunday morning, when it is expected the team will announce it is adding a second car for the 2017 season with Erik Jones driving. Martin Truex Jr. signed a two-year extension with Furniture Row this week.

Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy team:

Carl Edwards: He’s shown strength in qualifying at road courses this season (also was on pole at Sonoma), now needs to finish the deal.

Tony Stewart: Five career victories at Watkins Glen and a strong summer season means he’s certain to contend. He’s also starting third.

AJ Allmendinger: Road-course specialist won at Watkins Glen in 2014, figures to be a factor.

He said it

“I expect it to be hard to pass. It’s really, really fast and I do think if you get out front, it’s going to be a major advantage.” -- Chase Elliott.

N@SCAR

Getting there

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Watkins+Glen+International/@42.338285,-76.9285464,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x89d05bfa817006e1:0xcc40c4181091258b!8m2!3d42.3382811!4d-76.9263577

Race facts

Cheez-It 355 At The Glen

Where: Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

Track type: 2.5-mile asphalt road course.

Race distance: 220 miles (355 kilometers), or 90 laps.

Green flag: 2:49 p.m.

Weather: Mostly sunny, high of 84, 10 percent chance of rain.

TV: USA.

Radio: Motor Racing Network.

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