NASCAR: Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney Will Battle Again at Watkins Glen

by Jonathan Howard

On Sunday, Ryan Blaney won the battle against Martin Truex Jr. and held his lead in the NASCAR Cup Series standings heading into Watkins Glen. These two drivers are the top two that have yet to earn a win on the season. So, it’s been a bit of a head-to-head battle since Kevin Harvick joined the list of winners. Knowing what we know about road courses this season, can we predict who will come out on top this Sunday?

It’s hard to tell what will happen week in and week out. However, there have been four road course races this season, and we have some data. Truex is the seasoned veteran, and he always feels like he’s just one race away from turning it around. Perhaps not. Meanwhile, Blaney is looking for a statement like he had at the end of last year’s regular season.

Blaney Hopes to Extend Lead at Watkins Glen

Taking a look at the standings, Truex actually has the fourth-most points. However, he sits 17th as far as the playoffs are concerned. Meanwhile, Blaney is still in as the top winless driver. His eight top-five finishes bolster his record. Scoring seven more points at Richmond than Truex also helped Blaney extend that lead.

It has to be frustrating for both to come so far this season and not gain a checkered flag in the process. One of these drivers is likely going to miss the playoffs, and that’s a real shame. Truex has the most stage wins of any driver in 2022 with seven. Blaney has been consistent and is one of the best young drivers in the Cup Series. Team Penske and Ford wants him in the playoffs desperately.

So, what else does this season tell us?

2022 Road Course Records

Here’s something that I think should carry a lot of weight heading into Watkins Glen – the road course results in 2022. There’s four races to pick from and that’s a pretty solid sample for a single season. Truex and Blaney have not been great on the road, but have been good. Blaney was bumped out of contention the last time the Cup Series hit the road at Indy.

So, looking at the results, it’s clear who has been better. Truex has one top-10 finish on the road this season. The bad news is Blaney edged him out in that race back at the Circuit of the Americas. The two finished sixth and seventh, with the Ford driver edging out the Toyota.

Truex finished 26th, 13th, and 21st at Sonoma, Road America, and Indy, respectively. Not a strong showing since that seventh place finish. Blaney has finishes of six, 11, and 26 in those same races. Only one of those races ended up with the No. 19 finishing before the No. 12. That’s something that is likely going to hold true at Watkins Glen.

Look, neither of these drivers are great on road courses, but the results are clear. Blaney is likely going to extend his lead over Truex this weekend. However, anything could happen. … Oh, is that Aric Almirola coming on at the right time?