Driver Handicaps: Watkins Glen

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    This weekend the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series heads to Watkins Glen International for Centurion Boats at The Glen - the ninth Car of Tomorrow event of the 2007 season. To help you make your Dale Jr. Reality Cup Racing fantasy picks, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 90-lap event.

    Who's HOT at Watkins Glen
  • Kevin Harvick's win in this event last year marked his fourth top 10.
  • Tony Stewart has three wins and a second-place finish in the last five races.
  • Robby Gordon has a 5.2 average finish in his last five starts.
  • Jeff Gordon leads all drivers with four wins.
  • Ricky Rudd leads all full-time drivers with 10 top 10s.

    Keep an Eye on at Watkins Glen
  • Denny Hamlin has led the most laps in COT competition with 612.
  • Juan Pablo Montoya will be shooting for his third NASCAR road course win of the season.
  • Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle will be driving the same cars that all finished in the top five at Infineon Raceway in June.
  • Road course "ringers" Boris Said and Ron Fellows have combined for four top 10s at Watkins Glen.
  • Jimmie Johnson, has two top 10s at Watkins Glen, and has a 7.8 average finish with the COT.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a 9.0 average finish in his last four starts at Watkins Glen.

    COT Performers
    Jeff Gordon leads all drivers in starting average (8.9) and finishing average (3.6) among the drivers that have competed in all eight Car of Tomorrow races. Gordon is tied with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson for the most wins with two. Denny Hamlin has dominated the competition by winning one race (New Hampshire), leading an impressive 612 laps and posting an average finish of 5.0. Excluding Boris Said and P.J. Jones - Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth (Ford), Ryan Newman (Dodge) and Brian Vickers (Toyota) hold the best average finish among their manufacturers at 11.4, 16.5 and 25.7, respectively. David Gilliland has the worst average finish among all the drivers that have made every COT start at 33.6. COT Driver Averages | COT Lap Leaders

    Track Performers
    Tony Stewart leads all drivers entered in the Watkins Glen race with the best average finish (8.5) on road courses among drivers with two or more starts. His teammate Denny Hamlin is right behind with a 10.7 finishing average in three races. Jeff Gordon, who has an 11.1 average finish, leads all drivers in wins (9) and laps led (613) in 29 starts. Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman and Ricky Rudd are the only other active full-time drivers with an average finish of 15.0 or better in two or more starts on the road courses.

    Watkins Glen Rookie Report
    Paul Menard is the only Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate that has made a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start at Watkins Glen International. In three races, Menard has posted an average start of 39.7 and an average finish of 28.3. Juan Pablo Montoya rides the most momentum heading into The Glen having won the Busch race in Mexico and the Cup race at Infineon Raceway. A.J. Allmendinger, who failed to qualify at Infineon, has had open wheel success on road courses, like Montoya, prior to Cup. David Ragan will be making his fourth NASCAR road course start. Ragan finished 29th at Infineon and 14th and 19th, respectively, in the Busch events at Mexico City and Montreal. Rookie Standings

    Qualifying Tidbits
    Qualifying took place last season for the first time in two years after rain had washed out the session in 2005 and 2004. In 2005, Tony Stewart had the fastest lap of the session before the rain came in and forced officials to cancel qualifying. Stewart's lap of 123.143 mph was tops among the 26 of 44 cars that posted a time. Jeff Gordon, Ricky Rudd and Dale Jarrett are the only other current active full-time drivers to have won a pole at Watkins Glen in the last 10 races. Gordon's 2003 speed of 124.580 mph still stands as the track record. Past Pole Winners | Starting Positions of Watkins Glen Winners

    Race to The Chase
    Jeff Gordon is the only driver among the Chase contenders that has posted multiple wins and poles at Watkins Glen International. He also leads the group with six top fives and seven top 10s. Click Here to view a video to see how the eligible Chase drivers stack up at Watkins Glen.

    Watkins Glen Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2006)
    *Fastest Early in a Run
    *Fastest Late in a Run
    Avg. Running Position
    1. Tony Stewart
    1. Tony Stewart
    1. Tony Stewart - 2.5
    2. Denny Hamlin
    2. Robby Gordon
    2. Robby Gordon - 8.4
    3. Robby Gordon
    3. Kevin Harvick
    3. Jimmie Johnson - 8.7
    4. Ryan Newman
    4. Jamie McMurray
    4. Denny Hamlin - 11.2
    5. Marc Goossens
    5. Jimmie Johnson
    5. Kevin Harvick - 11.6
    Laps in Top 15
    *Quality Passes
    *Driver Rating
    1. Tony Stewart - 182
    1. Robby Gordon - 67
    1. Tony Stewart - 140.1
    2. Robby Gordon - 150
    2. Ryan Newman - 57
    2. Robby Gordon - 116.0
    3. Jimmie Johnson - 147
    3. Scott Pruett - 48
    3. Kevin Harvick - 106.5
    4. Kevin Harvick - 136
    4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 47
    4. Jimmie Johnson - 101.2
    5. Scott Pruett - 129
    5. Kasey Kahne - 45
    5. Denny Hamlin - 100.3


    *Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
    *Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
    *Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
    *Driver Rating : Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.


    Dale Jr. Reality Cup Tiebreakers

    Last Five Number of Lead Changes
    2006-14
    2005-9
    2004-13
    2003-8
    2002-12

    Average: 11.2

    Last Five Number of Cautions Laps
    2006-22
    2005-14
    2004-11
    2003-14
    2002-18

    Average: 15.8

    *RacingOne Staff Picks

    Jeff Wackerlin: Robby Gordon
    Pete Pistone: Robby Gordon
    Jorge Mondaca: Juan Pablo Montoya
    Rachael West: Ryan Newman

    *Note: Drivers can be selected only one time per season. Race points will be added up each week. This is the 19th race of the season for this section of the handicaps. Standings

    Top 20 Driver Notes - Based on Current Standings

    1. Jeff Gordon (Points: 3236): Gordon has the most wins on both the current active road course tracks (9) and at Watkins Glen International (4). He is second in laps led at WGI with 176, second in poles with two, and is third in top-10 finishes with seven. Since winning at Watkins Glen in 2001, Gordon has posted an average finish of 20.6.

    2. Denny Hamlin (Points Behind: -366): Last year Hamlin finished 10th in his first NEXTEL Cup start at Watkins Glen International. He will be shooting for his fourth career top 10 on a road course, driving the same car (chassis No. 176) that started 36th and finished 10th at Infineon in June.

    3. Matt Kenseth (Points Behind: -411): In 2005, Kenseth ended a streak of two consecutive top 10s (eighth and ninth) with an 18th-place finish. Last year, Kenseth did not break back into the top 10 after finishing 21st. His best finish came in 2003 after qualifying a career-best (on time) seventh. Kenseth, who has yet to record a top-five finish on a road course in 15 Cup starts, will pilot the same car (chassis No. RK-492) that finished 34th at Infineon in June.

    4. Jeff Burton (Points Behind: -473): Watkins Glen International is Burton's worst track on the circuit when it comes to finishing average. In 2005, Burton finished 43rd after he crashed in Turn 1 on lap 30. The finish was his worst at WGI and it came in his first track start with Richard Childress Racing. Burton will be looking to lower his WGI average finish of 19.8 by racing the same car (chassis No. 210) that started sixth and finished third at Infineon Raceway in June. Burton's best finishes in 13 Watkins Glen starts have come with Roush Racing when he posted three consecutive top-10 finishes from 2000-2002, best being a second in 2001.

    5. Tony Stewart (Points Behind: -487): Last year, Stewart just missed capturing his third consecutive victory at Watkins Glen International after finishing second. The finish marked his sixth top 10 in eight starts. Stewart, who also won at WGI in 2002, will be driving the same car (chassis No. 175) that finished sixth at Infineon in June.

    6. Carl Edwards (Points Behind: -554): Last season, Edwards scored his first NEXTEL Cup top five on a road course with a fifth-place finish at Watkins Glen International. This weekend he will drive the same car (chassis RK-208) that finished 18th at Infineon Raceway in June after running out of fuel.

    7. Jimmie Johnson (Points Behind: -612): Johnson has two top-10 finishes at Watkins Glen International with his last coming in 2005 when he finished fifth. In 2004, Johnson posted his only DNF after an engine problem, on lap 23, relegated him to a 40th-place finish. Johnson, who has led three laps at WGI, will be driving the same car (chassis No. 442) that started 42nd and finished 17th at Infineon Raceway in June.

    8. Kyle Busch (Points Behind: -625): This weekend Busch will making his 100th career NEXTEL Cup start at Watkins Glen International. The race will also mark his sixth career road course race. Busch's two road course top 10s have come in the last two events at Watkins Glen (ninth) and Infineon (eighth). On Sunday he will be back in the same car (chassis No. 430) that raced at Infineon.

    9. Kevin Harvick (Points Behind: -636): This weekend Harvick heads to Watkins Glen International as the defending race winner. Last year's triumph marked Harvick's fourth top 10 in six starts. The 2006 race also saw Harvick lead more than one lap at WGI after holding the No. 29 out front for 28 laps. Harvick will be back in the same COT chassis (No. 211) that finished second at Infineon Raceway in June.

    10. Clint Bowyer (Points Behind: -684): Bowyer has recorded an 11.3 average finish in three NEXTEL Cup road course events. He will be shooting for his first top 10 at Watkins Glen driving the same car (chassis No. 194) that finished fourth in June at Infineon. Last year at The Glen, Bowyer started 14th and finished 14th.

    11. Martin Truex Jr. (Points Behind: -799): Martin Truex Jr. finished 28th in his first NEXTEL Cup start at Watkins Glen International in 2006. His best finishes at the track have come in the Busch Series, where he has finished in the top 10 in two starts. Truex will be racing the same car (chassis No. 018) that finished 28th in May at Richmond.

    12. Kurt Busch (Points Behind: -837): Busch posted his first top-10 finish (tenth) at Watkins Glen International in 2004, and in the process, led one lap for the first time at the track. Last year in this event, Busch started from the pole and led 38 laps en route to a 19th-place finish in his first track start with Penske Racing. Busch had success in other NASCAR Series at The Glen, finishing second in the 2000 truck race and first in last year's Busch race. Busch will be pulling "double duty" again this weekend and will drive chassis PSC-518 in the Cup race. This is the same car that finished 22nd at Infineon in June.

    13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Points Behind: -844): Last year Earnhardt Jr ended a streak of three consecutive top 10s with an 18th-place finish. In the three-race top 10 run, Junior posted an average finish of 6.0 and led a combined 12 laps. Earnhardt also has one Busch Series victory at WGI in 1999. This weekend he will be driving the same car (chassis No. 052) that started third and finished 13th at Infineon in June.

    14. Ryan Newman (Points Behind: -927): Last year, Newman rebounded from finishes at Watkins Glen International of 26th and 30th, respectively, by scoring his third top 10 at the track of eighth. Newman ranks among the top 10 in finishing average (12.2) on road courses and is the 2005 Busch Series winner at Watkins Glen. He will return in the same car (chassis No. PRS-517) that he finished 20th with at Infineon in June.

    15. Mark Martin (Points Behind: -1053): Martin, a three-time Watkins Glen winner, will not be racing this weekend. Regan Smith, who finished 30th at Infineon in June, will pilot the No. 01 Army Chevrolet this weekend.

    16. Greg Biffle (Points Behind: -1053): Biffle has yet to finish inside the top 30 at Watkins Glen International in four starts. The last two years have seen him finish 38th, which included transmission problems through out the running of the 2005 race. In 2004, he started 21st and was running in the top 15 until a part failure ended his day on lap 71. The 35th-place finish is his only DNF at the track. In his first race at The Glen in 2003, Biffle started second after qualifying with a lap of 124.506 mph. He was able to lead 23 laps, but finished 30th after a fuel miscalculation. This weekend Biffle will drive the same car (Chassis No. RK-491) that finished fifth at Infineon in June.

    17. Jamie McMurray (Points Behind: -1089): Last Year, McMurray finished third in his first start with Roush Fenway Racing at Watkins Glen International. He carried over his success at Infineon Raceway in June by winning the pole. McMurray, who will race his Infineon car (chassis RK-485) this weekend, led 30 laps with that car in that event before running out of fuel in the closing laps. McMurray posted an average finish of 16.0 in his first three starts at WGI with Chip Ganassi Racing.

    18. Juan Pablo Montoya (Points Behind: -1104): Montoya tested a few weeks ago at Virginia International Raceway in preparation for this weekend's event. His primary chassis for this weekend will not be the same one that won at Infineon Raceway in June.

    19. Casey Mears (Points Behind: -1123): This weekend, Mears will be making his Watkins Glen debut with Hendrick Motorsports. In his previous four starts with Chip Ganassi Racing he posted an average finish of 23.5 with his best finish, of fourth, coming in 2004. Mears will be back in the same car (chassis No. 440) that finished 27th at Infineon in June after overcoming steering problems.

    20. Bobby Labonte (Points Behind: -1206): Labonte will be making his 15th start at Watkins Glen International this weekend, where he has six top-10 finishes. Labonte, who will be making his second track start with Petty Enterprises, has finished a best fifth on two occasions at WGI (1996, 2000) with Joe Gibbs Racing.

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