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“I actually think it’s pretty cool to see how many guys just keep getting better every year,” said Kurt Busch, who easily bested Gordon last year at Sonoma. “I think it’s just a situation where you have more and more guys getting better at it.”

Stewart has a record five wins at Watkins Glen International, one more than Gordon, who hasn’t won here in a decade.


SPARK PLUGS: Aric Almirola’s No. 43 paint scheme for this week was designed by life-long Petty fan Kevin Gates, a graphic designer who just submitted a sketch on a whim and sponsor Smithfield decided to use it. As part of its nationwide Feeding the Hungry initiative, Smithfield also donated 30,000 pounds of food to a food bank in Watkins Glen. … Jeff Gordon has led a series-high 243 laps at Watkins Glen, 17 more than Tony Stewart. … Roush Fenway’s Matt Kenseth has a new deal to drive with somebody else next year but still doesn’t know when it will be announced.