1. Martin Truex Jr. — Truex has finished in the top three in three of past four races this season, and the accomplished road racer should keep it rolling with a fast No. 78 at Watkins Glen.
2. Kyle Busch — After finally breaking through for his first win in more than a year, Busch has bad news for his competition — he owns Watkins Glen, stats-wise. The only two-time winner in the field (2008, ’13) also has the most top-five finishes with five.
3. Kevin Harvick — After another runner-up finish — and almost breaking through for his first Pocono win — Harvick is showing he should be in the title picture, as well. One of the handful of Watkins Glen winners in the field, Harvick last won there in 2006.
4. Kyle Larson — In a bit of a downturn, at the moment — with four sub-par finishes in his last six — Larson should recover nicely at Watkins Glen. He’s a sneaky-good road racer.
5. Denny Hamlin — The Joe Gibbs Racing woes we saw in the first half of the season are clearly over, and we should expect to see Hamlin — the defending race winner — compete at the front of the field Sunday.
6. Brad Keselowski — Keselowski is the Team Penske driver that doesn’t need a win, but he may be the one more likely to get one this weekend. He’s tied with Jimmie Johnson for second in the field in top fives (four), despite neither landing in Victory Lane. That, his third-place finish last year, and his three straight runner-ups from 2011-13 suggest he’s due.
7. Matt Kenseth — Kenseth, who certainly would like a win to feel more secure about his playoff standing, has more races under his belt at WGI than any active drivers (17) — even one more than Boris Said! — but it’s only resulted in one top five. A win may be a stretch.
8. Chase Elliott — Despite having just one top 10 in his past three races, Elliott is on pace to top his top-10 finishes from his rookie season (17 to his current 12). A late-season run to stronger overall finishes is likely.
9. Clint Bowyer — Bowyer keeps flirting with the upper echelon of drivers this year, and he’s starting to look like he’ll be a strong contender down the stretch. Save for a crash at Indy, the other five races since Michigan have resulted in an average finish of 6.0.
10. Jamie McMurray — McMurray is on track to amass his most top-10 finishes since a whopping 23 in 2004 — he has 11 now, his high is 13 since then, in 2014 — but the Chip Ganassi Racing driver hasn’t earned one for three straight weeks.
11. Jimmie Johnson — Johnson has just one Coors Light Pole Award at The Glen, but has an absolutely pristine average starting position of 7.4. He’ll look to make amends for a crash that saddled him with a 40th-place finish last year.
12. Ryan Blaney — Not only was Blaney not able to land the Pocono sweep, he punched his third straight finish of 19th or worse. At times, this No. 21 car looked ready to compete, but it’s struggling at the moment.
13. Joey Logano — Logano won this WGI race two years ago and has earned the most points at the track over the past four years. A good points day will only get him so far, however — he needs to capitalize and land in Victory Lane.
14. Daniel Suarez — Looking for a real strong dark horse to make the playoffs? Look no further than Suarez, who turns in above-average races week in and week out and has strung together three straight finishes of seventh or better.
15. Erik Jones — Not counting the two crashes he endured at Loudon and Indy, Jones has three top-10 finishes in the other three races since Sonoma. He struggled at that road course, however, in finishing 25th, so another rough weekend could be in store for him at WGI.
16. Kurt Busch — Kurt Busch is one of just four active drivers with a pole at Watkins Glen (along with his brother, Johnson and AJ Allmendinger). This team could use a spark, so perhaps it comes in the form of starting on the front row.
17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — The restrictor plate tracks have gone quite well for Stenhouse — but road courses aren’t his forte. In his four starts at Watkins Glen, each finish has gotten progressively worse from 18th to 38th last year (crash), with three starts of 30th or worse.
18. Kasey Kahne — Kahne has put together two solid weeks in a row for really the first time since Daytona/Atlanta, but a third this weekend might be pushing it. He’s never finished in the top 10 in 13 starts at Watkins Glen.
19. Ryan Newman — Despite his win at Phoenix earlier this year, Newman is on pace to match his worst average finish of 16.0 since 2013, the year of his previous last win, interestingly enough.
20. Trevor Bayne — Bayne could be worth keeping an eye on this weekend. In his pair of WGI starts, his average start to average finish differential is glaring, going from 33.0 to 15.5.