Watkins Glen: 5 to watch

Driver To Beat: Denny Hamlin
Team To Beat: Joe Gibbs Racing
Sleeper: Erik Jones

Denny Hamlin is the defending race winner at Watkins Glen and has been NASCAR’s most consistent road racer the past two years. He’s also still riding high from his playoff-clinching win at New Hampshire earlier this month.

A two-time winner at Watkins Glen, Kyle Busch returns to the 2.45-mile road course fresh off a commanding victory at Pocono. No driver arrives at The Glen any hotter than the driver of the No. 18 Toyota.

Always a threat to win on the road courses due to the experience he amassed from his open wheel days, AJ Allmendinger knows the way to Victory Lane at Watkins Glen. His playoff hopes hinge on him getting back there.

It’s desperation time for Joey Logano, who needs to either win or make up a lot of ground over the next five races to earn a playoff berth. Watkins Glen, where he won two years ago, might be his best shot.

Although he’s never won at Watkins Glen, Martin Truex Jr. does have a win at Sonoma — the Monster Energy Series’ other road course — and owns more stage wins and bonus points than anyone else this season.