Driver Handicaps: Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen

Marcos Ambrose and Kyle Busch have respective average finishes of 2.3 and 4.0 in their last four starts at The Glen. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Driver Averages |  Loop Data eBook (pdf) Driver Ratings Past Winners

Motor Racing Network brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Finger Lakes 355 at Watkins Glen International.

Who's HOT at Watkins Glen
• Tony Stewart leads all drivers with five wins.
• Defending race winner Marcos Ambrose leads all drivers with a 2.2 average finish.
• Four-time winner Jeff Gordon leads all drivers in laps led with 233. 
• Kyle Busch, the 2008 winner, has finished ninth or better in the last six races.
• Juan Pablo Montoya, the 2010 winner, has finished seventh or better in his last four starts.

Keep an Eye On at Watkins Glen 
• Clint Bowyer will return in the same car he won with at Sonoma in June.
• Kevin Harvick (9.0) and Jimmie Johnson (10.2), respectively, have the third and fourth-best average finishes in the last five road-course events (Sonoma and Watkins Glen) among drivers entered in this weekend's race.
• Kurt Busch has finished in the top three in three of his last four starts on road courses.
• Brian Vickers, who will be back in the No. 55 Toyota, will race the same car he finished fourth with at Sonoma in June.
• Kasey Kahne has posted the best average finish (4.8) in the last five races of the season.
• Carl Edwards has posted a 7.4 average finish in the five races since the debut of the new car at Watkins Glen.
• Brad Keselowski (second), Martin Truex Jr. (fourth) and Joey Logano (fifth) each finished in the top five last year at Watkins Glen.
• Series points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a 25.5 average finish in four starts with Hendrick Motorsports at Watkins Glen.
• Sam Hornish Jr., who will be back in the No. 22 Dodge this weekend, finished 14th in his last start at Watkins Glen in 2010.
• Jeff Burton has finished ninth in his last two Watkins Glen starts.
• Greg Biffle will be back in the same car he finished seventh with at Sonoma in June.
• Boris Said will be in the No. 32 Ford this weekend.

Watkins Glen Qualifying Facts

*Active Pole Leaders
*Best Starting Average
Races Won from Starting Pos.
1. Jeff Gordon - 2 
1. Tony Stewart - 6.2
Pole - 9 times
2. Carl Edwards - 1
2. Jimmie Johnson - 6.5
Top Five - 19 times
3. Jimmie Johnson - 1
3. Kyle Busch - 8.1
Top 10 - 21 times
4. Kyle Busch - 1 4. Jeff Gordon - 9.2
Top 15  - 25 times
5. Kurt Busch - 1 5. Ryan Newman - 10.0
Worst - 18th, one time

* - Must be entered in the Finger Lakes 355.

*Best Average Finish at Watkins Glen

Last # of Races
Driver
Avg. Fin.
Two Races
Marcos Ambrose
2.0
Four Races
Marcos Ambrose
2.2
Six Races
Kyle Busch
5.3
Eight Races
Tony Stewart
5.2
10 Races
Tony Stewart
5.4

* - The best average finish is based off a driver who has competed in every race during that time span.

Watkins Glen Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2012)

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Tony Stewart
1. Marcos Ambrose
1. Tony Stewart - 4.9
2. Marcos Ambrose
2. Juan Pablo Montoya
2. Juan Pablo Montoya - 8.4
3. Juan Pablo Montoya
3. Tony Stewart
3. Marcos Ambrose - 9.8
4. Jimmie Johnson
4. Jimmie Johnson
4. Jimmie Johnson - 9.9
5. Kyle Busch
5. Kyle Busch
5. Kyle Busch - 12.1
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Tony Stewart - 613
1. Tony Stewart - 179
1. Tony Stewart - 124.8
2. Jimmie Johnson - 504
2. Ryan Newman - 156
2. Marcos Ambrose - 118.0
3. Kyle Busch - 437
3. Jimmie Johnson - 151
3. Juan Pablo Montoya - 112.6
4. Carl Edwards - 428
4. Kyle Busch - 145
4. Kyle Busch - 106.8
5. Kevin Harvick - 402
5. Martin Truex Jr. - 143
5. Jimmie Johnson - 100.7

*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.


For a look at all the pre-race Loop Data for Watkins Glen, view the Finger Lakes 355 Pre-Race eBook (pdf).

Season Loop Data Leaders

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Jimmie Johnson
1. Jimmie Johnson
1. Greg Biffle - 8.3
2. Kyle Busch
2. Jeff Gordon
2. Matt Kenseth - 8.6
3. Mark Martin
3. Kasey Kahne
3. Jimmie Johnson - 9.5
4. Denny Hamlin
4. Matt Kenseth
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 10.0
5. Greg Biffle
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Denny Hamlin - 10.7
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Matt Kenseth - 5038
1. Brad Keselowski - 1340
1. Jimmie Johnson - 109.8
2. Jimmie Johnson - 4889
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 1288
2. Greg Biffle - 104.8
3. Greg Biffle - 4807
3. Kyle Busch - 1251
3. Matt Kenseth - 104.4
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 4780
4. Marcos Ambrose - 1114
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 102.1
5. Martin Truex Jr. - 4662
5. Greg Biffle - 1111
5. Denny Hamlin - 99.6

*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.


MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Kyle Busch 
Pete Pistone: Tony Stewart
Ricky Hamber: Marcos Ambrose
John Singler: Jeff Gordon

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings
(All stats/notes are in regards to Watkins Glen unless noted)

Dale Earnhardt Jr: 25.5 average finish in four starts with Hendrick Motorsports; Started second and led 33 laps in his first track start with HMS in 2008; Scored best finish with HMS last season in 15th; 22.2 average finish in 12 overall starts; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 747) in the Finger Lakes 355.

Matt Kenseth: 15.6 average finish and one lap led in 12 starts; Last top 10 came in 2004; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 771) that he finished 13th with at Sonoma in June.

Greg Biffle: 25.8 average finish and two top 10s in nine starts; Finished fifth in 2009; Has yet to lead a lap since 2003; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 764) that he finished seventh with at Sonoma in June.

Jimmie Johnson: Coming off fifth top 10 (10th) in 10 starts; Has started ninth or better in last eight races (three on points); Fifth-best driver rating in past seven races; Fourth-best average finish (10.2) in the last five road-course events (Sonoma and Watkins Glen); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 543) that he finished fifth with at Sonoma in June.

Martin Truex Jr: Finished fourth last year; 9.5 average finish in two starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; Posted two top 10s in previous four starts with Dale Earnhardt Inc; Has yet to lead a lap; Fifth-best average finish (11.6) among all drivers that have raced in all five races with the COT.

Tony Stewart: Leads all drivers with five wins; Last win came in 2009; Has finished seventh or better in seven of the last eight races; Third-best average finish (7.6) among all drivers that have raced in all five races with the COT; Best driver rating in past seven races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 731) that he finished second with at Sonoma in June.

Brad Keselowski: Finished second last season; 11.0 average finish in two starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 806) that he finished 12th with at Sonoma in June.

Denny Hamlin: Accidents in the last two races ended streak of four consecutive top 10s; Finished second in 2007; 17.2 average finish in six starts.

Kevin Harvick: Winner of the last race with the old car in 2006; Equaled best finish with the COT last year in sixth; 8.5 average finish in last two starts; Third-best average finish (9.0) in the last five road-course events (Sonoma and Watkins Glen); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 395) that he finished 16th with at Sonoma in June.

Clint Bowyer: 17.5 average finish in six starts; Lone top 10 came in 2009 in ninth; Won the Sonoma road-course event in June; Will make first track start with Michael Waltrip Racing in the same car (chassis No. 632) he took to Victory Lane at Sonoma.

Kasey Kahne: Has yet to finish in the top 10 in eight starts; 19.1 average finish; Winner of the 2009 Sonoma road-course race; Will make first track start with Hendrick Motorsports driving the same car (chassis No. 674) that he finished 14th with at Sonoma in June.

Carl Edwards: Has finished 12th or better in the last six races; Won the pole and finished fifth in 2010; Second-best average finish (7.4) among all drivers that have raced in all five races with the COT; Fifth-best average finish (14.0) in the last five road-course events (Sonoma and Watkins Glen); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 816) that he finished 21st with at Sonoma in June.

Jeff Gordon: Last of four wins came in the 2001 race; Last of nine top 10s (ninth) came in 2007 from the pole when qualifying was rained out; Second-best Average finish (7.2) in the last five road-course events (Sonoma and Watkins Glen);

Ryan Newman: 16.3 average finish in three starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; Posted three top 10s in previous seven starts with Penske Racing; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 661) that he finished 18th with at Sonoma in June.

Kyle Busch: Winner of the 2008 race; Has finished ninth or better in last six starts; Best average finish (4.6) among all drivers that have raced in all five races with the COT; Led 46 laps from the pole last season; Fourth-best driver rating in past seven races.

Paul Menard: Has yet to finish in the top 10 in eight starts; 24.9 average finish; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 361) that he finished 32nd with last year at The Glen.

Joey Logano: Finished fifth last season for first top 10 in three starts; 18.0 average finish; Has yet to lead a lap.

Marcos Ambrose: Defending race winner; Leads all drivers with a 2.3 average finish; Has finished third or better in four starts; Second-best driver rating in past seven races; Best average finish (4.6) in the last five road-course events (Sonoma and Watkins Glen); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 772) that he finished eighth with from the pole at Sonoma in June.

Jamie McMurray: Finished sixth in this event in 2010; 11.5 average finish in two starts with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1012) that he last finished 19th with at Sonoma in June.

Jeff Burton: Finished ninth in the last two starts; Finishes are only top 10s in seven starts with Richard Childress Racing; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 357) that he finished 11th with at Sonoma in June.

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