Written by Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Simran Kanthi
As we approach the start of the playoffs, we arrive at the penultimate round of the NASCAR Cup Series regular season at Watkins Glen, New York. Going into the race weekend, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. Will Kurt Busch be able to return to racing or be out for five races in a row? Will Chase Elliot repeat his recent success at The Glen, or would Martin Truex Jr. be able to repeat his win in 2017 to secure the final playoffs spot?
NASCAR first introduced the track into the race calendar in 1957, then returned in 1964 and 1965. The next appearance was in 1986 and since then the race track has appeared in every race calendar until the pandemic struck in 2020. On Sunday, the drivers will race around the 2.45 miles (3.9 kilometers) long, relatively high-speed road course race track for 90 laps and drive on the shorter layout consisting of seven corners. With lots of overtaking spots, the track is no short of surprises and action-packed racing.
The chase for the final playoffs spot
Coming off from an exciting race in Richmond, the chase for the final playoffs spot is getting closer and closer. After the race weekend at Richmond Raceway, Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney are the only two drivers able to advance by points. With Truex Jr. closing down the points difference between him and Blaney to 26 points, the road course race might decide the outcome of the battle between the duo. Truex Jr. has been a consistent performer at this track, finishing within the top 5 in the past few races. The urge to lock on to the final spot might spark competitiveness within the drivers, so expect a ferocious fight between them.
Kurt Busch situation
According to the official statement from 23XI Racing and Kurt Busch, Busch will not be racing at Watkins Glen and Daytona, marking six races in a row that he will miss. Ty Gibbs will continue to step in for Kurt Busch, driving the 45 car. Busch is currently last in points standings among race winners. If Truex Jr. and Blaney win the following two races, it will leave Busch out of the playoffs.
Kimi Räikkönen’s NASCAR Cup Series debut
Kimi Räikkönen, nicknamed the "Iceman" by F1 fans, will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut. Having raced in the Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity in 2011, this is Räikkönen's first road course race in NASCAR. He is the first driver to drive for Trackhouse Racing's PROJECT91, which focuses on bringing international drivers into NASCAR. Räikkönen will drive the number 91 car for the race weekend.
This race weekend will most definitely be exciting and fun, with the fans anticipating a tight and extreme battle between the top drivers.