Kyle Busch a real shot at back-to-back wins
August 01, 2017 3:09 AM
by Micah Roberts
Kyle Busch finally grabbed his first win of the season at Pocono Raceway on Sunday and this week he goes to the road course at Watkins Glen where he’s the active leader in wins.
He became the 14th different winner on the season and the 13th driver to clinch a spot in the playoffs with only five races remaining until the 16 playoff-eligible drivers are set. A couple of those drivers fighting for one of those spots have fared extremely well on the road courses.
There’s only two road course races a season, but they’re nothing alike so let’s not put too much into the June 25 event at Sonoma Raceway won by Kevin Harvick.
Sonoma is a much more technical course with massive elevation changes while Watkins Glen is a far faster layout with longer straights. However, there’s a special group of drivers who always excel on the roads. There’s also a bunch of other drivers who don’t like it when they have to make both left and right turns.
Kyle Busch is the active leader with just two wins at Watkins Glen. The number is so low because we’ve seen 18 road course victories recently with Jeff Gordon (9), Tony Stewart (8) and Carl Edwards (1).
We’ve also seen road aces like Marcos Ambrose and Juan Pablo Montoya return to other racing series. To put into perspective how wide open things are now without those greats, consider only five active drivers have ever won at Watkins Glen.
Busch won at the Glen in 2008 and 2013, Harvick in 2006, A.J. Allmendinger in 2014, Joey Logano in 2015 and Denny Hamlin last year. That’s it! Two of those drivers are outside looking in to the playoffs as it sits right now and this is a great spot for them to clinch a berth.
Logano, who also finished second here last season, has a win (Richmond) on the season but the points were taken away due to failing a post-race inspection. The automatic berth was also disallowed. Now he sits in the No. 18 position 69 points out of the transfer spot that Matt Kenseth currently holds. Kenseth is one of those drivers that hates making right turns with just one top-five finish in 35 career road course starts.
Kenseth doesn’t have a win this season and if it stays that way over the next five races, he’ll need to qualify on points. This is definitely a race where Logano, and the 17th place driver Clint Bowyer, can gain on Kenseth. Chase Elliott is 15th and Jamie McMurray is 16th. Neither of them has a playoff qualifying win. Allmendinger is way back in 27th place, but did finish fourth in this race last season.
Bowyer also believes this is a spot he can win. His best finish there was fourth in 2012, but I was most pleased with his sixth place run in 2015 while driving a jalopy.
His lone road course win came at Sonoma in 2012, a year he won three times. He hasn’t won since but has been very impressive over the past six races, which includes being runner-up at Sonoma and Daytona.
The series is currently on a run of 10 different winners in the last 10 races.