NASCAR saw another surprise winner last week at Indianapolis with Michael McDowell claiming victory and punching his postseason ticket. The playoff picture adds intrigue once again ahead of the Go Bowling at The Glen from Watkins Glen International.
Before we dive into our race preview, let’s go ahead and take a look at the playoff picture with just two races remaining in the regular season.
2023 Race Winners Headed into the Go Bowling at The Glen
Michael McDowell entered Sunday’s race below the playoff cutline for points. With his massive victory at the Indianapolis Road Course, McDowell joins the 12 other full-time NASCAR drivers who hold wins this season. Check out the full list of race-winners below.
- Martin Truex Jr. – Three Wins
- William Byron – Four Wins
- Kyle Busch – Three Wins
- Denny Hamlin – One Win
- Kyle Larson – Two Wins
- Ross Chastain – One Win
- Christopher Bell – One Win
- Ryan Blaney – One Win
- Joey Logano – One Win
- Tyler Reddick – One Win
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – One Win
- Chris Buescher – Two Wins
- Michael McDowell – One Win
With two races remaining will another new winner emerge or do the drivers who currently hope to find their way to the post-season on points manage to survive?
Currently In The Playoffs on Points
With 13 full-time Cup drivers possessing wins in 2023, just three drivers currently qualify for the playoffs based on their points. Those drivers are Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and Bubba Wallace. However, with a road course and a superspeedway left in the regular season, none of these drivers should feel safe in their situations.
Bubba Wallace currently sits in the most danger with just a 28-point advantage on the cutline. Road courses are not his strength but he does tend to perform well on superspeedways. Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski both sit more than 100 points clear of the cut line – but again, we could easily see new race winners over the next two races meaning points spots in the playoffs can go from three to one in a hurry.
- Kevin Harvick – 145 Points Above Cut Line
- Brad Keselowski – 143 Points Above Cut Line
- Bubba Wallace – 28 Points Above Cut Line
Outside Looking In
The only real shot of someone pointing themselves in from outside would be if NASCAR sees no new winners over the next two races. Given the success of drivers below the cut line at both road courses and superspeedways, I think the odds of us seeing no new winners are slim.
I’m expecting one of Daniel Suarez, Chase Elliott, or AJ Allmendinger to get the job done at the Glen. Elliott and Allmendinger both have previous wins at Watkins Glen and Daniel Suarez possesses excellent road course skills. I’m not willing to count out someone like Ty Gibbs, Alex Bowman, or Austin Cindric sneaking in a win at Daytona to close the season either.
For now, though, the points situation going into the homestretch means that only Suarez or Ty Gibbs have a real shot at overtaking Bubba Wallace.
- Daniel Suarez – 28 Points Below Cut Line
- Ty Gibbs – 49 Points Below Cut Line
The race for playoff qualification sets up for an ultra-thrilling finale over the next two races. So many scenarios are in play and I can’t wait to see how it shakes out. Let’s take a look at the lineup for the penultimate regular season race.
Watkins Glen doesn’t feature quite the same level of international talent that Indianapolis did. Andy Lally in the #15 and Mike Rockenfeller in the #42 represent the only road course specialists on hand at the Glen.
I’ve already tipped my hand a bit in the earlier points discussion but I expect Daniel Suarez, AJ Allmendinger, or Chase Elliott to come away from the Go Bowling at the Glen with a victory. Of the three, I genuinely think Suarez presents the biggest victory threat this weekend.
Watkins Glen has a knack for producing incredible on-track action. While there will be no stage breaks this year, I expect will get a late race caution that bunches everyone back together. I’m looking forward to another thrilling conclusion at the Glen.
Check out the schedule below so that you don’t miss any on-track action from the Glen.
General Tire 100 at The Glen (ARCA Menards Series) – 5:00 p.m. CT on FS1
NASCAR Xfinity Series Qualifying – 10:00 a.m. CT on NBC Sports Streaming
NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – 12:30 p.m. CT on USA
Shriners Children’s 200 at The Glen (NASCAR Xfinity Series) – 2:30 p.m. CT on USA
Go Bowling at The Glen (NASCAR Cup Series) – 2:00 p.m. CT on USA