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By the Numbers: Road tested at Watkins Glen

August 11, 2011, ,

Watkins Glen International is a 2.45-mile road course with 11 turns, including an inner loop in Turns 5 through 8. The banking in the turn range from 6 to 10 degrees. The frontstretch is 2,150 feet; the backstretch is 1,839 feet to the inner loop. The track's width varies from 36 to 48 feet.

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1 -- Top-10 finishes Carl Edwards in six starts at Watkins Glen, his fewest at any active track. Edwards finished third in 2009. He has finished 25th or worse four times, including 33rd last year (DNF for engine).

2.0 -- Average finish for Kurt Busch in his two starts at Watkins Glen. Busch started and won from the pole in 2006; he started from the pole again in 2007, finishing third.

Side note: Busch is making his first series start at WGI since 2007, filling in this week in the No. 22 Dodge for Brad Keselowski.

3 -- Top-five finishes for Kyle Busch in four starts at Watkins Glen. Busch has finished second twice. He has been passed for the final lead change in the past two races, both times by Marcos Ambrose (Lap 64 in 2009, finished second; Lap 41 in 2010, finished fifth).

32 -- Drivers who have made their series debut at Watkins Glen. Only two have posted top-10 finishes: Robby Gordon (fifth in 2001); Nelson Piquet Jr. (seventh in 2010).

Side note: Casey Roderick is the only driver entered this week hoping to make his series debut. He is the fourth driver in the past six races this season to make his first start in the No. 39 Ford of Go Green Racing. Roderick, who has driven for Bill Elliott Racing in several series, scored his only ARCA win on a road course, at New Jersey Motorsports Park in 2010.

Very Interesting

10 -- Combined wins at Watkins Glen for Terry Labonte, Ron Fellows and Marcos Ambrose. Of the three, only Fellows is entered in this week's race; he's just one of two drivers (Kurt Busch) entered with a win at WGI.

Labonte note: Labonte won the inaugural race at WGI in 1991, then three in a row from 1994-96. He finished in the top five in all seven of his starts.

Fellows note: As it turned out, Fellows was one lap away from winning four in a row at the Glen in Joe Nemechek's No. 87 Chevrolet. He won in 1998, then was passed on the final lap by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in '99 (the only last-lap pass in track history). He won again in 2000 and '01. This week, Fellows will be making his third consecutive start for Earnhardt's JR Motorsports; he finished fifth and sixth in the two previous races.

Ambrose note: Ambrose became the second driver to win three in a row at WGI, and the third driver (Bill Elliott in 1993; Ron Fellows in 1998) to score his first series victory at the track. Ambrose led 60 laps in 2010, the most in any race there. His three wins at WGI account for all his NASCAR national series victories.

* Spotlight: Fellows tops list of road ringers

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4 -- Drivers who have swept the road courses at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen in the same year: Jeff Gordon twice (1998, 1999); Robby Gordon (2003); Tony Stewart (2005); Kyle Busch (2008). 2011 Infineon winner Kurt Busch finished second at WGI last year, his first top-five at the track and his third consecutive top-10.

12 -- Races since Watkins Glen was won by the pole winner: Jeff Gordon in 1998. Tony Stewart (2005) and Kyle Busch (2008) have won from the first starting position since, but there were no time trials in each of those years.

Side note: Starting in 2000, qualifying has been canceled five times. Stewart has won three times when time trials were rained out.

14 -- Race since Watkins Glen was won by a driver in a Ford: Geoffrey Bodine in 1996. Ford is the only make to have two cars finish in the top five in each of the past two years. Furthermore, Carl Edwards has five consecutive top-10s, including three top-fives.

Side note 1: No current, full-time Ford driver has ever won a Cup race on a road course. Terry Labonte, a two-time winner at Riverside International Raceway, will drive the No. 38 Ford of Front Row Motorsports this week.

Side note 2: Since Bodine capped a four-year stretch of Ford wins at WGI (previous three by Mark Martin), Chevrolet has won 12 of the 14 races since. Only Tony Stewart (Pontiac in 2002) and Kyle Busch (Toyota in 2008) have interrupted Chevy's run.

264 -- Races since Robby Gordon last won, at Watkins Glen in 2003. It's the second-longest winless streak of any active driver (Bobby Labonte, 273). Gordon posted top-fives in seven of his first nine starts at WGI, but has finished no better than 18th in the three races since.

Very Interesting

5 -- Finishes of 21st or worse for Jeff Gordon in the past nine races at Watkins Glen. Since scoring his fourth win at the track in 2001 (capping a stretch of four victories in five races), Gordon has only two top-10s; both have come in the past four races, however, including a 10th-place finish last year.

* Fantasy Preview: Past should predict future at WGI

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1 -- Green-white-checkered finishes in each the Cup and Nationwide series at Watkins Glen. Both winners (Tony Stewart in Cup in 2005 and Kurt Busch in Nationwide in 2006) led at the scheduled finish.

2 -- Drivers who have won each a Nationwide and Cup race at Watkins Glen: Ernie Irvan and Kevin Harvick. Harvick won in Cup in 2006 and won in Nationwide in 2007; he is not entered in this week's Nationwide race.

5.6 -- Average starting position for Cup winners at Watkins Glen, including nine from the first starting position (seven poles). The average starting position for Nationwide winners is 5.94, with five from the pole.

16 -- Cup races won in the 28 run at Watkins Glen by the driver leading the most laps. In the Nationwide Series, 11 of 17 races have been won from the driver leading the most laps.

Very Interesting

6 -- Top-five finishes for Marcos Ambrose in seven NASCAR starts at Watkins Glen. He has three wins in Nationwide and three top-three finishes in Cup.


1 -- Wins at Watkins Glen for owner Bud Moore (Class of 2011): In 1964, Billy Wade started from the pole and led 41 of 66 laps in the No. 1 Mercury. Moore-owned cars posted five top-10s in 13 starts at Watkins Glen, the last coming in 1996 when Wally Dallenbach drove the No. 15 to a 10th-place finish.

Side note: Ricky Rudd (twice) and Morgan Shepherd also posted top-10s for Moore at WGI.

2 -- Place of finish for Darrell Waltrip (Class of 2012) in his first start at Watkins Glen in 1986. Driving the No. 11 Chevrolet for owner Junior Johnson (Class of 2010), Waltrip started second and led 22 laps (the most he ever led at WGI). It proved to be his only top-five. Waltrip posted three more top-10s at the track, all in his No. 17 Chevrolet.

Side note: Johnson-owned cars finished second three times at WGI: Waltrip, Terry Labonte (1987) and Geoffrey Bodine (1990). Johnson had five top-fives in 17 races, the last coming in 1993 when Bill Elliott finished fourth.

4 -- Place of finish for Cale Yarborough (Class of 2012) in his only start at Watkins Glen. Marvin Panch, driving the No. 21 Ford of the Wood Brothers, won that race (leading 53 of 66 laps) in 1965 and Class of 2011 member Ned Jarrett (one lap led) finished second. Junior Johnson, driving his No. 26 Ford, led 12 of the 13 laps he raced before his engine gave out.

Side note: Panch's victory remains the only one for the Wood Brothers in 24 starts at WGI. Kyle Petty, Dale Jarrett, Morgan Shepherd, Michael Waltrip, Ricky Rudd and Marcos Ambrose have all posted top-10s at the track for the Woods.

6 -- Place of finish for David Pearson (Class of 2011) in his only start at Watkins Glen. Ned Jarrett finished eighth in that race in 1964 despite a DNF (engine). Only 12 of 16 cars were running at the finish: Richard Petty (Class of 2010) and Lee Petty (Class of 2011) were credited with 21st- and 22nd-place finishes, respectively; both had DNFs (Richard Petty for a crash; Lee Petty for handling).

Very Interesting

3 -- Third-place finishes for Dale Earnhardt (Class of 2010) at Watkins Glen, his best in 15 starts. Earnhardt finished in the top 10 in eight of his first 11 races. He started on the pole three times.

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