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Watkins Glen 220 Race Preview

Written by Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Sharifah Zaqreeztrina

Image credit - Julie Jacobson, AP Photo.

After a dominating race win by Michael McDowell at Indianapolis, we are closing in towards the end of the regular season. The field will be at Watkins Glen, New York State for the penultimate race of the season. Currently, there are three playoffs spots occupied by non-race winners Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and Bubba Wallace. Drivers on the bubble would be eyeing a win to get a golden ticket to the playoffs, and drivers who already have a race win would likely hope for more playoff points by winning at the Glen. The question is: Who’s going to step up and win the race?

Track Preview

The Watkins Glen International Raceway is located southwest of the Watkins Glen village, upstate New York. This is one of the oldest road courses in the NASCAR calendar, and 2023 marks the 40th time NASCAR has held a race at Watkins Glen.

The drivers will have a run down the main straight and head towards turn one, a right turn downhill. The drivers hit the lowest point of the track at turn two and immediately climb up the esses in turns three and four, then put the foot on the gas for the back straight. A heavy braking zone into a bus stop chicane, then quickly accelerating towards the turn five carousel. After exiting turn five, there will be a long run towards turn six, a medium left turn. Lastly, turn seven, a 90-degree right turn back into the main straight, will round out the race track. The drivers will go around the Glen for 90 laps, approximately 220 miles of racing.

Last year, Kyle Larson ranked first in the race after overtaking AJ Allmendinger and Chase Elliott in the final restart. The skies will be cloudy in Watkins Glen on the weekend, so there could be a chance of rain when the race commences. The race starts at 15:00 ET (12:00 PT, 21:00 CEST).

Race Predictions

It’s not hard to believe the biggest favorites are the stars on Team Hendrick, given they have won the last four iterations of the race. Kyle Larson raced at the Glen eight times, earned top-ten in five separate occasions, while picking up two wins in 2021 and 2022. On the other hand, Chase Elliott raced at this track six times, taking top five four times, also including two wins under his belt. These two drivers will be at the front of the pack, if not leading the race.

But the Fords are not ones to be looked down upon. Winning the last three races, the Ford resurgence is in full swing. Michael McDowell will be carrying a huge momentum from Indianapolis going into the Glen, and he might be able to claim another victory, given that he has gotten six top-tens in the past eight road course races.


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