Three things to watch
1 . Clint Bowyer was the surprise winner at the road course race at Sonoma, Calif. Can he make it a season sweep?
2 . Jeff Gordon owns four wins at the Glen but none since 2001. A fifth on Sunday would help cement a spot in this year's Chase.
3 . Marcos Ambrose won this race one year ago his first Cup victory and has been fast all weekend.
• NASCAR would be better off just junking the whole concept of rain tires and racing in the rain, regardless of the series. Yes, it is inconvenient for fans and participants if practices and races are delayed or postponed because of rain. But seriously, stock car racing was not founded on fans sitting in grandstands getting soaked watching races. The whole purpose of racing to see who has the fastest car is lost if drivers are spending more time battling the elements. And, specifically to this weekend, what is the point of practicing one day on rain tires if the day of the race is sunny and dry? The loudest voices for racing in the race are from those fans and media who wouldn't have to watch in the rain.
• Michael Waltrip Racing is on the verge of one of the biggest turnarounds of any racing organization. The team started from scratch in 2007 and got off to a damaging start with severe penalties at Daytona that year for altered fuel. Until this season, no MWR driver had finished better than 16th in the Cup series. With five races left before the Chase, MWR has a solid the opportunity to have two drivers competing for this season's championship.
• Three drivers are tied with three wins apiece Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski and would be tied atop the standings when the Chase got underway. Stewart has the best chance to break that tie this weekend, owning five victories at Watkins Glen.
Jim Utter gives you three picks for your fantasy racing league:
Marcos Ambrose, Tony Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya
Montoya makes it two in a row: It may be surprising considering his road course background, but Juan Pablo Montoya earned the first pole of his career this weekend on a road course and will start first in Sunday's Finger Lakes 355 at Watkins Glen International.
It's also the first time in Montoya's career he was won poles on consecutive weekends. He won the pole last week at Pocono.
Montoya edged Kyle Busch for the top starting position. Jimmie Johnson qualified third, Brad Keselowski fourth and Marcos Amrbose fifth. Series points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. will line up 16th.
Lately I can push the car a lot more and I'm not just driving it around, Montoya said. I can get more out of the car.
Last week I knew we were going to struggle because our race pace in practice was horrible. When we won the pole, it was like 'How did that happen?' This week I think we can contend.
No pressure for Earnhardt Jr.: Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn't hiding it. He has a remarkably different attitude right now with five races left before the start of the Chase.
Earnhardt remains the series points leader and is virtually assured a spot in the Chase. He also has one win, which ensures he will not be seeded at the bottom of the 12-driver field.
It's been a big load off of my shoulders. We can just concentrate on the single event, and what's happening at that very moment; not really have to worry about anything too far out in the future, Earnhardt said.
You know, I've had fun all year. Every time your car is running good, you have a blast. Coming in here in 10th place (in points), just trying to hang on to the spot in the Chase is really, really tough.
We'll just be able to go out there and try to compete. There is really no pressure. That's a good feeling."
Where: Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International
Track type: 2.45-mile, seven-turn road course
Race distance: 90 laps or 220.5 miles
Weather: Sunny and high in the mid-80s.
TV: Coverage begins at noon on ESPN. Green flag is 1:20 p.m.
Radio: Motor Racing Network