WATKINS GLEN - NASCAR’s best drivers will hit the pavement this weekend at Watkins Glen International for Go Bowling At The Glen.

 

Several storylines will accompany the racers around the historic 2.45 mile road course this weekend.

 

So whether you’re at the track camping and enjoying the festivities with friends, or watching on television - here are five things to keep in mind.

 

1.) Can Elliott repeat?

 

 

 

Chase Elliott wowed The Glen crowd last year, edging out a surging Martin Truex Jr. to earn his first-ever Monster Energy cup win. The then 22-year-old Elliott also earned 2018’s Most Popular Driver award, taking the mantle that was held for 14 years by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

 

Elliott’s win made him the ninth-youngest first-time winner in the Cup Series (22 years, eight months, eight days) and the youngest road-course winner of all time.

 

Elliott finished the 2018 season strong, winning at Dover and Kansas and has one win in 2019 at Talladaga. Recently, Elliott hasn’t had a top-10 finish in the past seven races, but is currently holding onto the eighth position in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup standings with 616 points.

 

Elliott will look to become the first back-to-back winner at Watkins Glen since Marcos Ambrose in 2011 and 2012.

 

2.) Busch leads Chase chasers

 

 

 

Kyle Busch currently sits at the top of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup standings with four wins this season and 818 points. The veteran has won twice at Watkins Glen International (2008, 2013) and has had top-10 finishes the past four seasons. Busch won the 2015 NASCAR championship and remains a strong bet to earn his third win at Watkins Glen. Busch has always been a fan of coming to The Glen.

 

“Watkins Glen has obviously been a really good place for me over the years and a place I really enjoy,” Busch said in a release. “We’ve just got to keep coming to the track and executing like we have. There are a lot of factors in strategy that affect a road-course race and hope we can execute like we have been and get another win.”

 

 

 

3.) With new crew chief, Johnson looking to get into playoffs

 

 

 

Seven-time NASCAR champion is currently on the outside looking in of the Monster Energy Cup standings with 520 points, 12 points behind Ryan Newman and the final Chase spot.

 

Johnson has just replaced his crew chief, Kevin Meendering, who will remain with Hendrick Motorsports in a senior competition role. Meendering joined the No. 48 team following the 2018 season.

 

Enter Cliff Daniels, 31, who helped win the 2016 Cup Series championship as Johnson’s race engineer. The Smithfield, Virginia, native joined the No. 48 team in December 2014, moved into Hendrick Motorsports’ competition systems group following the 2018 season and rejoined the No. 48 team as race engineer last month at Sonoma Raceway.

 

Daniels will be in the pit box this weekend at The Glen.

 

The legend hasn’t fared well at The Glen the past four seasons, only finishing in the top-10 one season (10th; 2015). Johnson has two poles and six top-10 appearances in his career at Watkins Glen with the last coming in 2013, an eighth place finish. Johnson finished third in 2008 and 2012.

 

4.) Former race winners vying for top spots

 

 

 

Two former winners at WGI, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin sit behind Busch in the Monster Energy Cup standings.

 

Truex has four wins this season and won the I Love New York 255 At The Glen in 2017 while Hamlin took home a victory in the Cheez-it 355 in 2016. Truex has finished in the top-10 in the past three seasons including second place last year at The Glen while Hamlin qualified first at the track last season, but ended up finishing 14th.

 

5.) Qualifying winners beware

 

 

 

If qualifying is any indication, a smart bet would be to not put your money on the driver that wins pole position. Only one racer in the past 10 races at Watkins Glen International has qualified first and finished in first place, Kyle Busch in 2008. Pole winners at Watkins Glen International have finished 7th (2017), 8th (2016), 24th (2015), 34th (2014) and 31st (2013) the past five seasons.

 

6.) Victory Lane: Who’s Next?

 

The idea that any driver has a clear advantage around Watkins Glen’s 2.45-mile road course has been put to rest over the last several years.

 

The chances that one driver will match the feats of Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon in the 1990s - or Tony Stewart in the 2000s- seems to get smaller each year. Martin won three times in a row from 1993-1995 - a feat that was repeated by Gordon from 1997-1999.

 

In the 2000s, Tony Stewart won five times - 2002, 2004-05 and 2007. Smoke then closed out the decade with a win in 2009.

 

Recent winners include: Chase Elliott (2018), Martin Truex Jr. (2017), Denny Hamlin (2016), Joey Logano (2015) and AJ Allmendinger (2014).