Watkins Glen is the final road course race of the season. The 2.45 mile track features 11 turns with a variety of banking. The smallest banking is six degrees. The steepest banking is ten degrees. Seven of those 11 turns are to the right.
The frontstretch is 2150 feet long. The backstretch is 2400 feet long. The track width varies from 36 to 48 feet.
Now that the specs are out of the way, remember two words when thinking about this race: track position. Nine drivers have won the race from the pole. Drivers who want to win need to qualify well, plain and simple.
What isn’t so simple is if drivers want to win this race at all. The laps are so long, you’ve got to have a mechanical issue or mental issue to fall a lap down. So, if you’re in contention and worried about running out of gas, do you risk winning and running the risk of finishing 35th or pit and live to fight for another day? The marathon of the season will impact the sprint on Sunday maybe more than any other race this year.
As with other road courses, you’ll want a car that handles well. You are turning left and right after all. This is a strategy race, especially is 35 cars are on the lead lap with a late race caution, which we would never see for the sake of drama. I can see the track debris now. Enjoy some fun facts to impress your friends during ESPN’s race coverage Sunday at 1:00 EDT, courtesy of the track’s website.
- Marcos Ambrose has the best average finishing position of any active driver at Watkins Glen.
- Ambrose also happens to have won this race last year.
- Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Mark Martin and Kyle Busch have the second through fifth best average finishes here.
- Stewart won at Watkins Glen five times and won the 2009 race.
- Jeff Gordon has won here four times.
- Martin has won at Watkins Glen three separate times.
- Kevin Harvick, Robby Gordon and Kyle Busch are the only other active drivers to win here once.
- Nine drivers have won this race from the pole. That’s more than a 40% success rate.
- The track has a section devoted to being green, with information about recycling and contests to win free prizes.
- This makes me feel good when the campers that go to these races get five miles per gallon.
- The track prohibits water balloon launchers and ATV’s.
- I now know what I need to enjoy my weekend before the race.