Podium Preview: Go Bowling at the Glen

All in all, Chase Elliott may repeat this scene in Sunday's Go Bowling at the Glen. (Photo: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

All in all, Chase Elliott may repeat this scene in Sunday’s Go Bowling at the Glen. (Photo: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

By all means, Sunday’s Go Bowling at the Glen proves quite unpredictable for NASCAR’s return to upstate New York. In this case, two old friends reunite after a near two year absence for a 90-lap soiree.

However, Watkins Glen may not be a typical Sunday afternoon drive. On the other hand, for those like Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson, the Finger Lakes region seems quite welcoming!

Each race weekend, The Podium Finish’s panelists preview each NASCAR Cup Series points-paying race. This weekend, Adam LucasAshley HobbsCody ShoppeKobe LambethMatt SisolerMichelle RaynorTaylor Kitchen, and yours truly delve into potential Playoff spoilers and Hendrick Motorsports’ road course dominance.

Podium Preview: Go Bowling at The Glen
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Question 1
In this case, can Tyler Reddick shake up the Playoff field? (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

In this case, can Tyler Reddick shake up the Playoff field? (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

This month’s races include two road courses and two superspeedway races ahead of the Playoffs. Which drivers outside of the Playoffs seems likely for any of the remaining available spots from Watkins Glen to Daytona?

Hobbs : For the regular season finale at Daytona, that race is open to all. If you are running on the lead lap at the white flag, you have a shot. For the road courses, I expect to see a repeat winner for each, even at the Indianapolis Road Course which is new for this group. As for Michigan, that is a fast track that looks like it will also play into the hands of a repeat winner. 

Looking at this season alone for those outside the top-16, Austin Dillon, Ryan Preece, Cole Custer, and Ross Chastain are in the top-10 for average finish on restrictor plate tracks. For Michigan, a Super Speedway, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. is the best outside-looking-in. As for the road courses, Ross Chastain and Chris Buescher are again on the list.

So, purely going off numbers, Ross Chastain and Chris Buescher, I feel, have the most chances. Going off likelihood based on experience, Austin Dillion at Daytona.

Tiongson :  I can see some surprises in these final four regular season races. If I wanted to go off gut feeling for surprise playoff berths, I’d say Ross Chastain and Tyler Reddick. Chastain has turned up the wick in recent races with top 10 finishes. Moreover, Reddick and his incredible physical fitness regime seems quite helpful during these hot summer races.

Beyond these two, perhaps Austin Dillon and Ricky Stenhouse might play the role of spoilers given their superspeedway success. If either driver find themselves in position for the Daytona win later this month, if I’m anyone already locked in, I’d probably let these two have room!

Lambeth : Honestly, I think we could be in for a few surprises in the final few weeks of the regular season. Making a bold prediction, I say we get at least two new winners in the final four races before the playoffs. Right now, the two Richard Childress Racing drivers are battling for the final playoff spot. Before Aric Almirola spoiled the RCR party at New Hampshire, Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick seemed destined for the postseason. Now, everything is up in the air with one driver currently in and the other out.

If I had to guess, I think we could see the playoff picture get shaken up quite a bit at the IMS Road Course and regular season finale at Daytona. Mostly focusing on the wildcard Daytona race, nearly every driver in the field has a shot at winning there. We could see drivers like Chris Buescher, Matt DiBenedetto, Ross Chastain, Bubba Wallace, Erik Jones and others in a must-win position pull off a last minute upset and leave RCR stunned.

Shoppe : Don’t you just love how the end of the regular season shapes up? With two road courses and Daytona among the remaining races, you cannot rule out anyone! Last time this was asked, I never would have said Aric Almirola would be one of the names to shake up the playoff picture so this time, I’m not leaving anyone out! With fuel mileage being a possible factor in the road course and Michigan, and all the unpredictability of Daytona, anyone in the top 30 eligible, could very well upset the likes of Harvick, Reddick and Dillon! 

Sisoler: With Daytona, it is anyone’s game. You could see someone like Erik Jones win that race and shock their way into the playoffs, knocking out someone who was trying to get their way in on points.

In terms of guys who have the best chances to win their way in over the final few races, you cannot overlook anyone, as Bubba Wallace, Matt DiBenedetto, Chris Buescher and Ross Chastain have all shown the pace to win races, but have not been able to do so.

Once again though, Daytona is the wild-card, and drivers such as Corey Lajoie and Ryan Newman have had historically strong runs on superspeedways.

Question 2
Of course, Chase Elliott seems like a virtual lock for Sunday's Go Bowling at the Glen. (Photo: Mike Moore | The Podium Finish)

Of course, Chase Elliott seems like a virtual lock for Sunday’s Go Bowling at the Glen. (Photo: Mike Moore | The Podium Finish)

So far, Hendrick Motorsports has won the past three contested road course races run thus far in 2021. Does this trend continue on Sunday at Watkins Glen?

Lucas : I hope it ends. Variety is the spice of life and we haven’t had much in that department this season. Chase Elliott seems to just get the rhythm of these types of races, even with a little luck (insert COTA win). The dominance continues this weekend I believe.

Torres : No doubt Hendrick Motorsports will rule again on the road courses. It’s Chase Elliott’s playground we’re dealing with this time and I don’t see that changing come Sunday. However, with weather being a concern, it may change the complexity of the race. If it’s not an issue, HMS will continue ruling the left and right turns.

Raynor :  As much as Hendrick has dominated and will be there to contend for the win, I don’t think they will win. I expect Larson and Elliott to be up there but this break we had, I feel, has energized others. I expect someone other than Hendrick to win. It’s been the year of the unexpected. 

Kitchen :  I believe many of my colleagues would agree with me in saying: “Absolutely!” 

Hendrick Motorsports’ dominance at the road courses this season (and near wins) sets them up for the perfect winning weekend as NASCAR returns after the Olympic Break.

By all means, two laps around Watkins Glen proves as difficult as scoring a 300 in bowling. Next, we reflect on race 23 of this season by reviewing our race and points reports from the Foxwoods Resorts Casino 301 at New Hampshire!
Perhaps Terra Jones became a New Englander.

Perhaps Terra Jones became a New Englander.

Meanwhile, the race resumes for the points lead!

Meanwhile, the race resumes for the points lead!

Now, Ashley Hobbs considers the numbers worth tracking for Sunday’s Go Bowling at the Glen!
First, consider how your favorite team fares in the Go Bowling at the Glen.

First, consider how your favorite team fares in the Go Bowling at the Glen.

Since 2004, the Go Bowling at the Glen race winner has an average starting spot of 5.1, led an average of 36.9 laps, started within the top five 68.75% of the time and started within the top 10 87.5% of the time.

Since 2004, the Go Bowling at the Glen race winner has an average starting spot of 5.1, led an average of 36.9 laps, started within the top five 68.75% of the time and started within the top 10 87.5% of the time.

Now, Kyle Busch might like these numbers.

Now, Kyle Busch might like these numbers.

Next, consider the trends in the past 10 editions of the Go Bowling at the Glen.

Next, consider the trends in the past 10 editions of the Go Bowling at the Glen.

Now, here's the trends in the past five Go Bowling at the Glen races.

Now, here’s the trends in the past five Go Bowling at the Glen races.

Whoa!

Whoa!

Here, check out Sunday’s top 10 starters for the Go Bowling at the Glen!
Row 1
Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano (Photo: Mike Moore and Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano (Photo: Mike Moore and Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Row 2
Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson (Photo: Mike Moore | The Podium Finish)

Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson (Photo: Mike Moore | The Podium Finish)

Row 3
Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin (Photo: Mike Moore | The Podium Finish)

Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin (Photo: Mike Moore | The Podium Finish)

Row 4
Christopher Bell and Aric Almirola (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

Christopher Bell and Aric Almirola (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

Row 5
Martin Truex Jr and Alex Bowman (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

Martin Truex Jr and Alex Bowman (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

Lastly, here’s our picks for Sunday’s Go Bowling at the Glen!
On account of awesome road courses skills, here's our Go Bowling at the Glen race picks.

On account of awesome road courses skills, here’s our Go Bowling at the Glen race picks.

Torres : If it wasn’t obvious enough, road courses are Chase Elliott‘s foray. Watkins Glen in particular should see the same outing for the defending champion.

Kitchen : You know the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” Well, my pick for this weekend will be Chase Elliott. Elliott is a guaranteed contender at the road course races and is the active driver with the most road course wins. I think this is the safe race winning pick for the weekend (hopefully not too safe).

Lucas : By me picking him, maybe that variety spice will happen this weekend. Chase Elliott for the win just because if I pick him, he’ll have bad luck!

Lambeth : When it comes to road courses, it is hard to bet against Chase Elliott. The road course king will add another trophy to his growing collection by winning at Watkins Glen for the third consecutive time!

Tiongson : Typically, I like playing the aggressive game. However, I’m going for the safe route with Chase Elliott. It’s hard betting against the man who’s won the last two races at the Glen!

Shoppe : Hard to bet against the road course king, Chase Elliott! The sports most popular driver will win again at Watkins Glen!

TPF Stats : Kyle “Rowdy” Busch is going to keep the summer party going from the Bahamas to New York and add another victory mark to his season.

Hobbs : It may be silly to not choose Chase Elliott, as he is the (new) king of the road courses – but I like Martin Truex Jr‘s consistency at Watkins Glen. And it’s been a moment since he’s been to victory lane this year. Time for Truex to get the momentum back up as they head into the Playoffs.

Raynor : Truex is good at this track and it’s about time he wins again.

Sisoler : With the rough and tumble nature of road courses, it isn’t necessarily about who has the fastest car, although that helps. Track position is going to be key, which is why I am going to pick the person I feel has the advantage of starting near the front and having a quick enough car to win on road courses. He’s been strong there this year. So, I expect Kyle Larson to take the checkered flag come Sunday out of the fourth starting spot.

Race fans, thanks for joining us for our preview of the Go Bowling at the Glen!

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

Thanks as always to the TPF team for their amazing efforts this week!  Stay safe and wash your hands often. Help yourself, your family and friends by getting the COVID-19 vaccine! Take the shot to save your life and others! Also, thanks for reading our content throughout this season.

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Podium Preview 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. Ultimately, they are not indicative of TPF, the organization and its staff.

Presently, Ashley Hobbs challenges each of our fans to participate in the 38 Challenge for mental health awareness! In this case, join her challenge now by visiting this link!

Also, if you are shopping for NASCAR or racing die-casts, be sure to check out our friends at Circle B Diecast! If your order is $20 or more, be sure to use coupon code TPF2021 for free shipping! Tell them we sent you and buy some new die-casts now!

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 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 his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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