What to watch for The annual trip to Watkins Glen has been won in streaks. Tony Stewart took the checkers in 2002, '04 and '05 before finishing second to Kevin Harvick last season. Before that, Jeff Gordon won three straight from 1997-99 and finished first again in 2001. Gordon's three-peat was the second of the decade, following Mark Martin, who won from 1993-95.
This season, the Car of Tomorrow is in play, making Robby Gordon a frontrunner. With a new ride across the board, Robby's talent should allow him to outrun other drivers on the 11-turn New York track. The road warrior has five top-5 finishes in his last seven races, including a win in 2003, runner-up to Stewart in 2005 and fourth-place finish last season. Since his best chance to win a Cup race is at either Infineon or Watkins Glen, expect all the stops to be pulled out in August.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has shown dramatic improvements on the road and could be ready to take the next step at the Glen in '07. Junior has three top 10s in his last four races, finishing third in 2003 and fifth in '04. If Earnhardt does win, it will be his first road win on the Cup circuit but the second time he has celebrated at Watkins Glen, where he won the Busch race in 1999.
It will be interesting to see how Juan Pablo Montoya adapts to road races in a stock car. He should do pretty well after a trial run at Infineon. The less contact the better for him, so the COT will be welcome. Ganassi always gives good machines to Scott Pruett on the roadies, so JPM should be in good shape.
Keep an eye on... Denny Hamlin -- Honestly, we don't know how good a road racer Hamlin is just yet, but he posted a 10th at the Glen and a 12th at Infineon in his rookie season, so he has to be decent.
Scott Pruett -- The road course ringer has been tantalizingly close at the Glen. He has four top-6 finishes in the last five years, highlighted by a runner-up in 2003. One of these days he's going to break through. With the COT in play, this just might be the year.
Ricky Rudd -- Though Rudd has never enjoyed as much success at Watkins Glen as he has at Infineon, he still boasts two wins. That COT will really help as well.
Elliott Sadler -- He has four consecutive top-15 runs at the Glen, advancing his finishing position annually.