Kyle Busch's Historic Pace
Kyle Busch picked up the win last week at Pocono and there's still 15 races to go this season. That win was also the 49th of his Cup Series career, tying him with former teammate Tony Stewart for 13th all-time. He's now just 1 win from tying 2 Hall-of-Famers for 11th all-time.
Busch is looking to become the 13th driver to reach 50 career Cup Series wins. And as long as he does it this season, he'll be the 4th-youngest driver at the time of his 50th win.
Kyle Busch should be among the favorites on Sunday. With the retirements of Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, no active driver has won more Cup Series road course races than Kyle Busch.
Busch, Harvick Race to 7 Wins
Busch's 6 wins this season match him with Kevin Harvick, as the 2 have combined to win 12 of the 21 races this season. Busch is the only driver since 2000 to reach 7 wins in fewer than 25 races in a season. If either wins Sunday, they'd join a list that, dating back to 1990, only includes Busch, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt.
This is already the first time we've had multiple drivers with 6 wins in a season since 2013 (Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth). The last time we had multiple drivers with 7 wins in a season was 2008, when Kyle Busch (8) was joined by Carl Edwards (9) and Jimmie Johnson (7).
Daniel Suárez Getting Closer
Daniel Suárez started on the pole for the first time in his Cup Series career last week at Pocono, led a career-best 29 laps and finished a career-best 2nd.
Suárez will now try to improve 1 spot to become the 5th foreign-born winner in Cup Series history. Of the 6 previous races won by foreign-born drivers, the last 3 came at Watkins Glen.
Suárez now goes to Watkins Glen, where he finished 3rd last season, his only top-5 finish of his rookie season.
Who Could Steal a Playoff Berth at the Glen
There are 5 races left to go until the Cup Series playoffs, and the road course at Watkins Glen could mark the best chance for a driver to steal a playoff berth. Unless we get a new winner from outside the current playoff field, we could be void of a lot of playoff drama down the stretch. 7 drivers have essentially clinched with wins, while another 8 have more than 100-point lead over the first driver out.
So, who could look to challenge from outside the top 16?
• AJ Allmendinger: 2014 Watkins Glen winner; 6 top 10s in last 7 Watkins Glen races
• Daniel Suárez: finished 3rd at Watkins Glen last year
• Kasey Kahne: 2009 Sonoma winner
• Paul Menard: won NXS road course race in 2015
• Michael McDowell: won NXS road course race in 2016
Ring that Bell... 3 Times
In the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Joe Gibbs Racing prospect, 23-year-old Christopher Bell, has won each of the last 3 races, putting him 1 win away from the series' win streak record, set by Sam Ard in 1983.
Note: Busch won 3 straight starts on additional occasions, but did not win 3 consecutive series races. He's never won 4 consecutive starts or series races.
With 4 wins total this season, Bell will have plenty of chance to tie the series rookie wins record of 5, done by 3 different drivers, all of whom went on to have successful Cup Series careers.
Who's Hot and Who's Not - Watkins Glen
Kyle Busch (Gibbs): 11 top-10 finishes in 13 career Watkins Glen races; finished 7th or better in last 7 MENCS road course races overall
AJ Allmendinger (JTG/Daugherty): only Cup Series win came at Watkins Glen in 2014; 6 top-10 finishes in last 7 races at track
Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row): defending Watkins Glen winner; 7 top-10 finishes in last 11 Watkins Glen races
Denny Hamlin (Gibbs): top-5 finish in last 2 Watkins Glen races (1 in first 10 starts at track); 5 straight MENCS road course top-10 finishes overall
Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas): 11th or better in the last 5 Watkins Glen races
Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas): finished 32nd and 17th in last 2 Watkins Glen races (1st and 2nd in last 2 road course races at Sonoma)
Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick): 26.8 Avg finish in last 4 Watkins Glen races; winless in 16 career Watkins Glen races
Aric Almirola (Stewart-Haas): has never finished better than 16th in 7 career Watkins Glen races
Kyle Larson (Ganassi): 0 top-10 finishes in last 7 Cup Series road course races
Austin Dillon (Childress): finished 16th or worse in all 9 career MENCS road course races
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