Track Talk: GoBowling at Watkins Glen

Heading into today's Go Bowling at the Glen, can AJ Allmendinger snap his four year winless drought?

Heading into today’s GoBowling at Watkins Glen, can AJ Allmendinger snap his four year winless drought?

Each weekend, our panel provides their thoughts on the latest stories in NASCAR while predicting the winner of the GoBowling at Watkins Glen, the upcoming Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race!

This weekend, our panelists Adam LucasAshley Hobbs, Ashley Hull, Christina Bowman, Cody ShoppeJose Acero JrKathleen CassidyKatie Copple ponder about the post-qualifying inspection shenanigans at Pocono last weekend and the driver and team facing the most pressure at Watkins Glen!

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Question 1
Kyle Busch and his No. 18 entry were one of 13 teams who failed post-qualifying inspection last weekend at Pocono.

Kyle Busch and his No. 18 entry were one of 13 teams who failed post-qualifying inspection last weekend at Pocono.

13 of the 40 starters in last Sunday’s Gander Outdoors 400 at Pocono Raceway failed post-qualifying inspection.  Was this a case of these teams pushing the limits or was this a situation where these teams were caught off guard by the abbreviated schedule?

Acero : This is a case of “I am getting into the playoffs and will do whatever it takes to win” and to their bad luck, they pushed a bit too far. With the (regular) season winding down, desperation mode is on for the winless drivers to get that win and compete for the title.

Bowman :  I’m going to say that this was just people pushing the limits as time is dwindling down to make the chase and we do not have a large variety of drivers with wins. Unless there was some mass notification that these crew chiefs did not receive, I cannot imagine that they were caught off guard by any means.

Cassidy :  Both! With the playoffs closing in fans will start to see teams willing to push the limits to win a race. As the big 3 continue to win week in and out, this only gives other teams more of a reason to fight hard to be competitive.

Copple :  Can I go with both in this case? Teams will do nearly anything to give themselves an edge over others if they believe it will help them get into the playoffs. But on the other hand, having that many teams fail is rare.

Hobbs : It’s hard to say they were “caught off guard” because they’ve known about it. I think it is much more case of pushing the limits a bit too much this weekend. Teams are always looking for an edge, and clearly some found the edge and then some. They will learn from this (or not) and change it for next time so we aren’t in this bad light as a sport.

Hull :  I think that teams this close to the end of the season are going to be pushing the envelope a bit and see what they can get away with. So they for sure weren’t caught off guard. They were aware of what they were doing.

Lucas : I want to say it was a little bit of both, but with the playoffs looming, I think teams are getting “cheeky” with the limits. With a good chunk of faster qualifiers starting at the rear, it made for some exhilarating opening laps this past Sunday.

I enjoyed seeing how the big three had to maneuver lead lap traffic for once in a while. I liked the condensed schedule to a two day show and hope that this becomes a regular occurrence in the future. Who can outsmart who in the discotheque room of doom? We will continue to find out!

Shoppe : This is a product of the playoffs approaching and teams looking to get all they can. They all have to be well aware of what they were doing so there is no excuse. While putting a lot of fast cars in the back can make for excitement, I think it is time for stiffer penalties for these inspection failures.

Question 2
Can AJ Allmendinger make it happen at Watkins Glen?

Can AJ Allmendinger make it happen at Watkins Glen?

Which driver and team are facing the most pressure to nab one of the coveted playoff spots, particularly heading into Watkins Glen?

Acero :  Who is facing pressure? Every driver with a zero in the win column. These guys are racers and want to win to get in. With WGI up next, this will only put more pressure on those winless drivers if they don’t know how to get around this place. Allmendinger is gonna go bonsai come Sunday!

Bowman :  It’s my opinion that anyone who has not secured a spot in the playoffs with a win is facing pressure, regardless of the track that they are going in to. There are a few guys that may have a better chance at winning on a road course, but I don’t think it changes the pressure. If you don’t have a win at this point, you need one.

Cassidy :  Pressure is on the 88 team. Alex Bowman has been knocking on the door for a win for most of the season. Watkins Glen is a great place to switch things up and for this ‘rookie’ to grab his first Cup win!

Copple :  Jimmie Johnson. He is nearly out of the top 16 in points and has five over a year without a win. But, road courses aren’t his thing. If we are talking strictly this weekend, AJ Allmendinger and maybe even Alex Bowman have great shots at taking down the leaders.

Hobbs : You know everyone is going to be looking at Mr. Tickles’ dad, A.J. Allmendinger. But here’s the thing; road course ringers are a thing of the past. These ‘oval guys’ have figured out how to turn left and right and have done a great job at conquering the road courses.

Sure, Dinger has had this race circled on his calendar (as he does with Sonoma). But, he also knows guys like Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, and even Martin Truex Jr. have figured this place out. That being said, I still expect Cat Dad Dinger to push it extremely hard on Sunday.

Hull :  Since this weekend is at a road course,  the pressure will be on AJ Allmendinger. He needs to win to be in. It will also be on Alex Bowman and Daniel Suarez as well, to follow up last weekend’s performances.

Lucas : It’s Allmendinger’s Last Stand this weekend to get into the playoffs. His bread and butter is road courses by nature, so I will be watching him closely to see if he can shift into the postseason with a win. Basically, his season is on the line this weekend which should send pressure to Alex Bowman, who sits in the final playoff position currently.

With Allmendinger being a major threat this weekend, Bowman and the No. 88 team will have to play damage control from first practice, all the way to the checkered flag on Sunday.

Shoppe : It will all be up to Allmendinger to shake up the playoff bubble picture this weekend. I think the Dinger aside, nobody else has a realistic shot at winning their way into the playoffs.

Acero excelled with Harvick at Pocono.

Acero excelled with Harvick at Pocono.

Meanwhile, the points race continues to tighten up.

Meanwhile, the points race continues to tighten up.

Well, friends, here’s the moment of truth! Let’s talk about our picks to win today’s GoBowling at Watkins Glen!
Can one of these five wheel their way to Watkins Glen's Victory Lane?

Can one of these five wheel their way to Watkins Glen’s Victory Lane?

Tiongson :  I’m going to trust you, AJ Allmendinger.  We’ve seen how magical his first ever Cup win was back in 2014.  I think it’s time for him to return to the winner’s circle, time time with Mr. Tickles!

Hobbs : I think Cat Dad A.J. Allmendinger is hungry and will pounce on the field this weekend.

Hull :  AJ Allmendinger.

Acero :  Daniel Suarez, after that second place finish at Pocono, he will get the job done at The Glen!

Cassidy :  Daniel Suarez.

Bowman :  Kevin Harvick.

Shoppe : Kevin Harvick!

Lucas : I got a few more shots to pick him before the playoffs, so why don’t I fire one this weekend from the big three? Martin Truex Jr will win again at another one of his “home” tracks!

TPF Stats : It’s been 5 years since he has won at Watkins Glen, but with 6 wins in the bag this year and the best average finish, the stats see Kyle “Rowdy” Busch back in Victory Lane at The Glen this weekend.

That wraps this week’s preview, race fans!  Thanks for joining us for another edition of Track Talk!

We’re ready for some racing. How about you? What do you think are the biggest storylines heading into Sunday’s race and who is your favorite to win?  Tweet us now @ThePodiumFinish and tell us now!

Thanks as always to the TPF team for their amazing efforts this week!  We hope to see you at the races.

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Track Talk are solely of the authors. They do not reflect any organizations affiliated with the participants and author outside of TPF. This weekly feature is strictly for entertainment purposes and are not indicative of TPF, the organization, and its staff.

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by me or by one of my talented columnists who absolutely have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Proud to be from Massachusetts, just as happy to be a Texan.

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