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NASCAR at Watkins Glen 2014: Start Time, Live Stream, TV Schedule and More

WATKINS GLEN, NY - AUGUST 08:  Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley Ford, looks on in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 8, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 9, 2014

Road courses provide an interesting quirk to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series every season, which is why all eyes will be on Watkins Glen International Sunday afternoon.

With the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup inching closer and closer, drivers are becoming desperate to reach Victory Lane. Road-course racing isn't for everyone, though, which means a select few drivers have a legitimate opportunity to come out on top.

In fact, only five different drivers who are currently active have won at Watkins Glen before. That means there is a golden opportunity available to some at the Cheez-It 355.

Here is everything you need to know about the unique and exciting Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen, along with a prediction regarding who will ultimately prevail.

 

Where: Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York

When: Sunday, Aug. 10 at 1 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPN

Live Steam: WatchESPN

Radio: Motor Racing Network

 

Qualifying Entries

Qualifying for the Cheez-It 355 will start at 11:40 a.m. ET Aug. 9, according to NASCAR.com. The following is a full listing of drivers who will attempt to qualify, courtesy of The News & Observer:

Cheez-It 355 Entry List
Car No.Driver
1Jamie McMurray
2Brad Keselowski
3Austin Dillon
4Kevin Harvick
5Kasey Kahne
7Michael Annett
9Marcos Ambrose
10Danica Patrick
11Denny Hamlin
13Casey Mears
14Tony Stewart
15Clint Bowyer
16Greg Biffle
17Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
18Kyle Busch
20Matt Kenseth
22Joey Logano
23Alex Bowman
24Jeff Gordon
26Cole Whitt
27Paul Menard
31Ryan Newman
32Boris Said
33Alex Kennedy
34David Ragan
36Reed Sorenson
38David Gilliland
40Landon Cassill
41Kurt Busch
42Kyle Larson
43Aric Almirola
47A.J. Allmendinger
48Jimmie Johnson
51Justin Allgaier
55Brian Vickers
66Joe Nemechek
77Nelson Piquet Jr.
78Martin Truex Jr.
83Ryan Truex
88Dale Earnhardt Jr.
95Michael McDowell
98Josh Wise
99Carl Edwards
The News & Observer

 

Drivers to Watch

Marcos Ambrose

WATKINS GLEN, NY - AUGUST 09:  Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #09 Stanley Ford, prepares his equipment on the grid prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International on August 9, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York.  (Photo by
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Although he has been labeled a road-course specialist during his Sprint Cup tenure, Marcos Ambrose has done quite well for himself. He has two career wins, and both of them have come at Watkins Glen. With the Chase approaching, Ambrose and his team are well aware that this is their best chance to get the No. 9 car in NASCAR's version of the playoffs.

Ambrose is facing a ton of pressure to win this race and qualify for the Chase, but he knows that doing so won't be easy, according to Jared Turner of FoxSports.com:

There's a lot of talk about us running well at Watkins Glen, and we expect to run well, but a lot of things have to line up for us to win that race. We'd love it if it happens, but it's certainly not a guarantee. Just congratulations to Aric (Almirola) and the (No.) 43 team. It's great for our company to have a car locked in the Chase, and if we don't make it, we're going to do everything we can to help him, but right now our focus on the (No.) 9 team is to get ourselves up in that Chase, as well.

With that said, Ambrose is extremely hopeful that he has a car good enough to make the most of his road-course prowess, per NASCAR on ESPN:

The Aussie has finished in the top five in five of his six career starts at Watkins Glen International. He hasn't had a great season to this point, but a single win can change that immediately, much in the same way it did for Aric Almirola.

Ambrose may not be a true factor if he does make the Chase; however, there is no question that he will do everything in his power to make it.

 

Brad Keselowski

LONG POND, PA - AUGUST 01:  Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford, drives during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 1, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/G
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

While most fans probably don't consider Brad Keselowski to be a road-course expert, he has thrived at Watkins Glen over the years. The former Sprint Cup champion is still searching for an elusive win at the track, but he has three top-fives in four tries and a fantastic average finish of 6.5 to his credit.

On top of that, Keselowski is in the midst of a fantastic season. He has piloted the Blue Deuce to three victories, which is tied with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson for the most in 2014. Keselowski also has nine top-fives to boot, which suggests that he is running well everywhere.

Everyone has taken notice of Keselowski's excellent form, including teammate Joey Logano. The driver of the No. 22 machine was thoroughly impressed with how Keselowski performed in practice at Watkins Glen:

While practice and qualifying don't always translate to the race itself, Keselowski has proved that he has a great feel for this race track. He is due to win here eventually, and it could very well happen Sunday.

 

Tony Stewart

LONG POND, PA - JUNE 07:  Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, looks on in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 7, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Je
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

As a three-time Sprint Cup champion, the expectation is that Tony Stewart should make the Chase every season. With just five races remaining until the playoffs begin, though, Smoke is quickly running out of chances to qualify.

He sits a disappointing 21st in the standings and has been a virtual non-factor most weeks. Nobody has ever been better than Stewart at Watkins Glen, though, as he has won there five times and finished in the top 10 on 10 occasions. That makes him one of the clear contenders to take the checkered flag in the Cheez-It 355.

Jeff Hammond of FoxSports.com believes Stewart has a great chance, but he also feels as though he has some extremely difficult competition to deal with:

Tony can win at Watkins Glen. He has the record to prove it. The problem is Tony has a guy from Australia (Ambrose) standing in his way who might keep him from winning this weekend. While this might be Marcos' last shot at making the Chase, the cool thing about Tony Stewart is he can win anywhere anytime. So, unlike Marcos, Tony is going to have a few more opportunities after this weekend. 

Hammond is right about Stewart's ability to win anywhere, but he hasn't shown many flashes of that ability this year. Watkins Glen is is almost certainly his best chance, so he will do everything he can to take advantage of it.

 

Prediction

Ambrose, Keselowski and Stewart may very well be the three drivers vying to win this race in the closing laps, but they could have company. The likeliest possibility is Jeff Gordon, who already has two victories this season. He has won this race four times and knows that a third triumph in 2014 would put him atop the standings when the Chase starts. Because of that, he really has nothing to lose.

Kyle Busch has won at Watkins Glen twice and finished in the top 10 in eight of his nine starts. Although he has a win, he has actually been pretty quiet and unassuming this year. He'll look to change that in the Cheez-It 355.

Carl Edwards has never won at Watkins Glen, but he has four top-fives and won earlier in the year at Sonoma. Another win would give him three on the season and vault him to the top of the standings.

Among those who have a chance to steal a spot in the Chase are Martin Truex Jr. and A.J. Allmendinger. Both are driving for smaller teams, and they have just one top-five finish combined this season, but they are both in the top 10 in terms of average finishes at Watkins Glen.

Road courses are unpredictable, and there are plenty of variables to consider, but Keselowski's current form and Watkins Glen success make him the best and most obvious choice to win Sunday.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

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