<
>

NASCAR National Series News & Notes -- Watkins Glen

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: I LOVE NEW YORK 355 at The Glen
The Place: Watkins Glen International
The Date: Sunday, August 6
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 2:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 220.6 miles (90 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 20),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 40), Final Stage (Ends on lap 90)

NASCAR XFINITY Series

Next Race: Zippo 200 at The Glen
The Place: Watkins Glen International
The Date: Saturday, August 5
The Time: 2 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 1:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 200.9 miles (82 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 20),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 40), Final Stage (Ends on lap 82)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Next Race: LTI Printing 200
The Place: Michigan International Speedway
The Date: Saturday, August 12
The Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 200 miles (100 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 30),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on lap 100)

Busch Goes For Second Straight Win

Kyle Busch notched his first win of the season - and first in 36 races - in Sunday’s Overton’s 400 at Pocono Raceway. By capturing the checkered flag at Pocono, Busch has now won a points race at every Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series track but Charlotte. By the way, he became the 13th driver to punch his ticket to the playoffs by virtue of winning a race.

The win was the 100th for Toyota in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Busch ranks tied for third in playoff points with Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski at 13. His eight stage wins trail only Martin Truex Jr.’s 14.

The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing driver will go for his second straight win in Sunday’s I LOVE NEW YORK 335 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Busch boasts two wins, five top fives and 10 top 10s in 12 starts at the Central New York road course. Among active drivers at WGI, Busch has the top average running position (11.2), best driver rating (110.4) and second-best average finish (10.0).

Harvick Hopes To Sweep Road Courses

Sonoma winner Kevin Harvick will attempt the season sweep of the two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series road courses in Sunday’s Zippo 200 at The Glen.

The last driver to sweep the road courses was Kyle Busch in 2008. Harvick and Busch are also the only two active drivers to have won at both Sonoma and Watkins Glen.

In 16 career starts at Watkins Glen, Harvick has one win (2006), three top fives, eight top 10s and a 13.2 average finish.

The No. 4 Ford driver currently ranks third in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings, 97 markers behind leader Martin Truex Jr. He is tied with Truex and Brad Keselsowki for the most top 10s this season with 14.

Allmendinger Can Steal Chase Bid With Win At Glen

Road course maven AJ Allmendinger will attempt to capture a spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with a win at Watkins Glen International on Sunday. In 2014, Allmendinger notched his first-ever win and the playoff spot that comes with one when he took the checkered flag at The Glen.

The No. 47 Chevrolet driver will be one of the favorites this weekend at the track where he owns one victory, three top fives, five top 10s and a 9.4 average finish in eight starts. He finished fourth in last year’s race.

An Allmendinger win would leave only two playoff spots available through points with four races remaining after Watkins Glen.

10 Different Winners In The Last 10 Races

Parity has been a theme in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. There have been 10 different winners in the last 10 races: Austin Dillon (Charlotte), Jimmie Johnson (Dover), Ryan Blaney (Pocono), Kyle Larson (Michigan), Kevin Harvick (Sonoma), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Daytona), Martin Truex Jr. (Kentucky), Denny Hamlin (New Hampshire), Kasey Kahne (Indianapolis), Kyle Busch (Pocono).

Back Against The Wall: Past WGI Winner Logano Goes For Win, Chase Berth

Proving how unpredictable NASCAR can be, Joey Logano is fighting for a playoff berth with a mere five races left in the regular season. Not even Nostradamus would’ve foresaw the Ford driver’s predicament before the year started.

Logano won at Richmond, but his victory was encumbered, so it doesn’t count for a playoff berth. He is currently 69 points behind Matt Kenseth for the final playoff spot and 52 points behind Clint Bowyer, who would be the first driver out of playoffs if the season ended today.

Watkins Glen could be the place where Logano clinches a playoff berth. He won there in 2015 and finished second at the New York track last season. He’s finished lower than seventh in just one of his last six starts at Watkins Glen.

Last year’s series runner-up, Logano has made the Championship 4 in two of the three years it’s been implemented. The one year Logano didn’t make the Championship 4 (2015), he led the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with six wins.

Time Is Running Out: Playoff Berths At A Premium

Only five races remain for winless drivers to capture one of the three remaining playoff berths.

The following drivers would be in the playoffs if the season ended today: Martin Truex Jr. (three wins, 29 playoff points), Jimmie Johnson (three, 16), Kyle Larson (two, 13), Brad Keselowski (two, 13), Kyle Busch (one, 13), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (two, 10), Kevin Harvick (one, eight), Ryan Blaney (one, eight), Denny Hamlin (one, seven), Ryan Newman (one, five), Kasey Kahne (one, five), Austin Dillon (one, five), Chase Elliott (39 points above Clint Bowyer on the cutoff line, two playoff points), Jamie McMurray (+38, 0), Matt Kenseth (+17, 2).

The two drivers currently outside the playoffs with the best shot to get in on points are Bowyer (17 points below Kenseth on the cutoff line, one playoff point) and Joey Logano (-69, one).

Three of the drivers who would currently be in the playoffs are graduates of the NASCAR Next initiative - Larson, Blaney and Elliott.

Truex Attempts To Extend Leads In Points And Playoff Points

Martin Truex Jr. extended his points lead over second-place Kyle Larson to 85 markers after finishing third at Pocono. Truex didn’t earn a playoff point at The Tricky Triangle, but his 29 playoff points are 13 points more than the next-best driver (Jimmie Johnson, 16).

Truex will attempt to continue his dominance in Sunday’s I LOVE NEW YORK 335 at The Glen. In 11 starts at the Central New York road course, he has three top fives, six top 10s and a 13.1 average finish.

NASCAR XFINITY Series

The Glen: First Of Three Road Course Events For The NASCAR XFINITY Series In 2017

The upcoming stretch of the schedule, before the end of the regular season, could be considered the most treacherous or fortuitous to a competitor’s championship hopes. The final seven tracks of the regular season are quite diverse, as the series will face three road courses (Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio and Road America), two short tracks (Bristol and Richmond), an egg-shaped track (Darlington) and a 1.5-mile speedway (Chicago) to decide the 12 drivers who will make the NASCAR XFINITY Series playoffs.

First up this weekend is Watkins Glen International, a seven-turn road course located in Watkins Glen, New York. On Saturday, August 5, the track will host the Zippo 200 at The Glen (on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at 2 p.m. ET) for the 24th running of the event, and the first-time the 2.45-mile road course will have the new stage racing format. Strategy will play a big role in this weekend’s event with the first two stages being 20 laps each, and the final stage is 42 laps.

In the first 23 NASCAR XFINITY Series races held at Watkins Glen International, there have been 15 different Coors Light pole winners, led by Kurt Busch (2006, 2007, 2011) with three. The famed road course has also produced 13 different race winners, led by Marcos Ambrose (2008, 2009, 2010 and 2014) and Terry Labonte (1991, 1994, 1995, 1996) with four each.

Currently nine drivers in the top 12 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship points have yet to win this season and lock themselves into the playoffs. Seven of those nine drivers have never won in the series. Could this weekend be the one they visit Victory Lane? Three drivers all-time have posted their first-career series win at Watkins Glen International - NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott (1993), and road course aces Ron Fellows (1998) and Marcos Ambrose (2008).

Only three former series WGI winners are entered this weekend - Joey Logano (2015, ’16), Brad Keselowski (2013) and Kevin Harvick (2007).

Logano Looking To Become First To Win Three Consecutive Series Races From The Pole At The Glen

Team Penske will be in full force this weekend in the Zippo 200 at The Glen fielding both the No. 22 Ford Mustang for driver Brad Keselowski and the No. 12 Ford Mustang for Joey Logano, who will be looking to become the first driver in series history to win three consecutive races from the pole at Watkins Glen International.

That’s right. Three.

Logano has been lights out over the last two seasons at Watkins Glen, winning both XFINITY Series races from the pole. In 2015, Logano (39) and Brad Keselowski (40) combined to lead 79 laps of the 82-lap event (96.3% of the laps completed) and finished 1-2. Then last season Logano put on a clinic, leading 67 laps of the event, including the final 27, to win in dominant fashion.

Now the 27-year-old returns to the famed seven-turn road course to become the third driver in series history to win three Watkins Glen races in a row joining Terry Labonte (1994, ’95, ’96) and Marcos Ambrose (2008, ’09, ’10), but the first to win all three from the Coors Light pole.

Eight times the NASCAR XFINITY Series race has been won from the Coors Light pole among five different drivers - Terry Labonte (1991 inaugural event, 1995), Ron Fellows (2000), Kurt Busch (2006, 2011), Marcos Ambrose (2010) and Joey Logano (2015, 2016).

Logano has made nine series starts at WGI, posting two wins, five top fives, six top 10s and an average finish of 10.3.

Post-Season Countdown: Seven Races ‘Til the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs

Only seven races remain till the NASCAR XFINITY Series playoffs start, and with only three championship contenders with wins this season, nine spots are up for grabs to make the playoffs.

William Bryon (three), Justin Allgaier (one) and Ryan Reed (one) are the three title contenders with victories this season; leaving the following drivers scrambling to get in on points.

As the current driver standings leader, Elliott Sadler (No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet), has the largest points cushion (+368) ahead of 13th in the driver standings of the nine winless competitors currently eligible for the playoffs. In 19 starts this season, Sadler has posted eight top fives (series-most), 15 top 10s (series-most) and an average finish of 8.7 - series-best among title contenders. This weekend at Watkins Glen watch for Sadler to be running upfront; in eight series starts he has posted five top 10s and an average finish of 10.6 - second-best among series championship contenders.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Brennan Poole (No. 48 CGR Chevrolet) has the second largest points cushion (+179) between himself and JJ Yeley in 13th - the first spot outside of the playoffs. In 19 starts this season, Poole has posted one top five, eight top 10s and an average finish of 14.8 - third-best among title contenders. Last season, Poole made his series track debut at Watkins Glen; starting 16th and racing up to a 10th-place finish.

Next up is Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric (No. 21 RCR Chevrolet) with the third-best points advantage (+149) over 13th in the driver standings following Iowa. In 19 starts this season, Hemric has posted two top fives, eight top 10s and an average finish of 15.0 - fourth-best among title contenders. Hemric will be making his NASCAR XFINITY Series track debut this weekend at WGI, but the Kannapolis, North Carolina native did make a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East start at Watkins Glen in 2015, posting a top-10 finish (10th).

Following Hemric is Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer (No. 00 SHR Ford), who has the fourth-best points advantage (+135) over 13th in the series driver standings following Iowa last weekend. In 19 starts this season, Custer has posted four top fives, nine top 10s (fourth-most this season) and an average finish of 16.5 - sixth-best among championship contenders. This weekend will be Custer’s series track debut at WGI, but he does have three NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts at The Glen; having posted two top fives - including a third-place finish last season.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Tifft (No. 19 JGR Toyota) has the fifth largest points cushion (+97) between himself and the 13th position in the driver standings following Iowa. In 19 starts this season, Tifft has posted four top 10s and an average finish of 15.6 - seventh-best among title contenders. This weekend’s event will be Tifft’s series track debut at Watkins Glen.

The previous five drivers mentioned have built substantial point advantages over 13th in the driver standings, but the next four drivers are on the playoff bubble and the next seven races are imperative to their playoff contention.

JGL Racing’s Dakoda Armstrong (No. 28 JGL Racing Toyota) is just 49 points ahead of 13th in the driver standings following Iowa. In 19 starts this season, Armstrong has posted two top fives and an average finish of 17.4 - ninth-best among title contenders. Armstrong heads to Watkins Glen this weekend having made three career series starts at the famed road course, posting an average finish of 22.0.

Following Armstrong is Blake Koch (No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet) with just 35 points separating himself from the playoff cutoff line following Iowa. In 19 starts this season, Koch has posted a pole, two top 10s and an average finish of 19.9. Koch has struggled at Watkins Glen in the past, he has five series career starts at WGI posting an average finish of 31.2. His series career-best finish at WGI was 18th in 2015.

JR Motorsport’s driver Michael Annett (No. 9 JRM Chevrolet) is a mere 32 points ahead of JJ Yeley in 13th in the driver standings following Iowa. In 19 starts this season, Annett has posted five top 10s and an average finish of 18.2. Annett has made five series starts at Watkins Glen posting an average finish of 18.2 - his best finish at WGI is 11th in 2012.

And the driver roasting in the hot seat this weekend is Richard Childress Racing’s Brendan Gaughan (No. 62 RCR Chevrolet) with a slight points advantage (+14) over 13th in the standings following Iowa. In 19 starts this season, Gaughan has posted one top fives, four top 10s and an average finish of 20.9. Gaughan has made six series starts at WGI posting an average finish of 18.7 - including two top-10 finishes in his last two starts. Also worth noting, of the nine winless title contenders currently eligible for the series playoffs, Gaughan is the only one to win on a race on a road course in the NXS - Road America in 2014.

Outside Looking In: Yeley, Sieg, Chastain Still Have A Chance To Make The Playoffs

Three drivers outside the NASCAR XFINITY Series playoffs with the best chance to still make the post-season on points are JJ Yeley (13th in the standings), Ryan Sieg (14th) and Ross Chastain (15th). All three drivers are within 32 points of Brendan Gaughan in the 12th and final playoff spot following Iowa.

JJ Yeley drives the No. 14 TriStar Motorsports Toyota with crew chief Wally Rogers this season. The pair are currently 14 points back from Gaughan in 12th. In 19 starts in 2017, Yeley has posted one top 10 and an average finish of 19.9. The veteran driver, Yeley, is coming off his season-best finish (sixth) last weekend at Iowa. Yeley has made seven series starts at WGI posting one top 10 and an average finish of 22.1. He has finished inside the top-15 at The Glen in his last two series starts.

RSS Racing’s Ryan Sieg is only 16 points behind Brendan Gaughan in the final playoff spot (12th) following Iowa. In 19 starts this season, Sieg has posted one top five and an average finish of 19.8. In three starts at Watkins Glen, Sieg has posted an average finish of 23.7 - his best finish at WGI was 14th in 2015.

Last but not least, is JD Motorsport’s Ross Chastain, who is 32 points behind Brendan Gaughan in the 12th position in the driver standings following Iowa. This season, Chastain has posted one top five, two top 10s and average finish of 20.9. Chastain has made three series starts at WGI, posting an average finish of 15.5.

Take The Stage: Sadler Is Gobbling Stage Points Like Candy

When it comes to accumulating stage points this season, nobody is doing it better than JR Motorsports driver Elliott Sadler, who has gobbled up a total of 170 stage points (series-most) through the first 19 races of the season.

Sadler is the current series driver points standings leader which should come as no surprise. The veteran from Emporia, Virginia has amassed 707 points this season, and his 170-stage points account for 24% of his points total. Sadler also leads the series contenders in stage wins with 5.

Top five in stage point accumulation thus far this season: Elliott Sadler (170), Justin Allgaier (143), William Byron (118), Brennan Poole (96) and Daniel Hemric (68).

With a max of 20 stage points per race available for the drivers to win this season; it is impressive that through 19 races Elliott Sadler has been able to average 8.95 stage points a race - series-most.

Iowa Puts Spotlight On NASCAR Next Program

Joe Gibbs Racing’s driver Ryan Preece, a NASCAR Next program alumnus, drove the No. 20 Toyota Camry to not only the pole, but also the win at Iowa Speedway last weekend with fellow NASCAR Next graduate Kyle Benjamin nipping at his heals in second. The great racing by the up-and-coming stars is just latest example of the hard work put in by the NASCAR Next program to shine a light on drivers trying to work through the ranks of NASCAR.

The NASCAR Next program began in 2011 and it has been an integral part of several drivers’ careers in helping them learn the ins-and-outs of the sport. The current NASCAR Next class for 2017 is Cayden Lapcevich, Chase Cabre, Chase Purdy, Hailie Deegan, Harrison Burton, Riley Herbst, Todd Gilliland, Ty Majeski and Zane Smith.

Five NASCAR Next alumni are participating in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race this weekend at Watkins Glen International - Cole Custer, Erik Jones, Matt Tifft, William Byron and Kyle Larson.

A total of 52 different drivers have participated in the NASCAR Next program, and 15 of the 52 have made at least one start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series - the pinnacle of NASCAR.

NASCAR XFINITY Series Etc.

Track Milestones: Joey Logano will attempt to post his third consecutive Coors Light pole at Watkins Glen this weekend tying Kurt Busch for the series-lead in poles at WGI with three, and becoming the first driver in series history to win three consecutive poles at WGI. .. Logano will also attempt to become the first driver in series history to win three consecutive races from the pole at WGI as well.

Doubling Down: Eight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regulars will be pulling double duty this weekend at Watkins Glen by entering in the Zippo 200 at The Glen on Saturday, August 5 (NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at 2 p.m. ET) - Paul Menard, Ty Dillon, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson and Erik Jones. Watkins Glen International is one of only two tracks currently on the NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule Kyle Busch has yet to win at; the other is Pocono Raceway.

Season-To-Date Loop Leaders: Below is a look at the top five series title-contending drivers in key season-to-date loop data categories (had to have started all 19 races to be included below):

Ø Driver Rating - Elliott Sadler (100.6); William Byron (98.5), Justin Allgaier (96.1), Cole Custer (86.7) and Brennan Poole (85.1).

Ø Average Running Position - Elliott Sadler (8.6), William Byron (10.1), Justin Allgaier (11.7), Cole Custer (12.4) and Brennan Poole (12.5).

Ø Laps Completed in the Top 15 - Elliott Sadler (92.2%, 3,169 laps), William Byron (85.8%, 2,950 laps), Cole Custer (79.1%, 2,719 laps), Justin Allgaier (78.8%, 2,708 laps) and Brennan Poole (75.6%, 2,598 laps).

Ø Quality Passes - Ryan Reed (808), Elliott Sadler (783), Brennan Poole (677), Justin Allgaier (672) and Brendan Gaughan (656).

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Bell Takes Over The Top Spot

Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Christopher Bell won his fourth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race of the season when he captured the checkered flag in the Overton’s 150 at Pocono Raceway. It was Bell’s sixth career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory and first-ever at Pocono Raceway.

The win also gave Bell the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points lead over reigning series champion Johnny Sauter. Bell leads Sauter by 18 points. It also added five more NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoff points to his total on the season. He has 24 playoff points, 13 more than the next closest driver, John Hunter Nemechek - who has 11 total playoff points.

Bell is certainly having a championship-worthy regular season, as he has four wins, eight top fives and 11 top 10s through 12 races. He’s led 521 laps this season, and has yet to finish outside he top-25.

When asked about the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs and his lead in playoff points, Bell did not shy away that accumulating as many playoff points as possible has been the team’s goal since day one;

“It’s huge to have this lead. Rudy sat me down at Daytona and said our goal is to get as many playoff points as we can to make sure that we can afford mistakes and have a cushion going into the playoffs. And I have feel like have done that and have a good gap over everyone else.”

You can find that post-race audio here.

Rhodes Rallies At Pocono

Starting from the pole position, ThorSport Racing driver Ben Rhodes scored his best finish of the season when he placed second in the Overton’s 150 at Pocono Raceway. Rhodes’ 21 Means 21 Pole Award at Pocono was the second of his career.

Rhodes second-place finish moved him from seventh in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points standings to sixth with four races remaining before the playoffs begin.

Prior to Pocono, Rhodes had struggled, being involved in wrecks at both Eldora and Kentucky, but is now back on track and right into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoff mix.

He will look for his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win next week at Michigan International Speedway in the LTI Printing 200 (August 12 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Briscoe Breezing To Sunoco Rookie Lead

Brad Keselowski Racing driver Chase Briscoe extended his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year points lead over ThorSport Racing driver Grant Enfinger at Pocono Raceway.

Briscoe now leads Enfinger by seven points, 154-147.

The pair have been battling for the Sunoco Rookie honors all season long, with Briscoe leading Enfinger following the last two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races (Pocono and Eldora).

Briscoe has been on a roll as of late - finishing inside the top-11 or better in six-consecutive races. He has five top fives, seven top 10s, and 105 laps led in 12 races this season.

Enfinger has been equally as impressive, scoring five top fives and seven top 10s as well. The ThorSport Racing driver is currently right on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoff bubble at ninth in the points standings.

Trucking Into Michigan

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will take a week off following the Overton’s 150 at Pocono Raceway, but will pick back up at Michigan International Speedway for the LTI Printing 200 Saturday, August 12 (1 p.m. ET. on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Brett Moffit is the defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner at Michigan, while Ben Rhodes (sixth), Matt Crafton (seventh), Grant Enfinger (eighth) and Johnny Sauter (ninth) all finished inside the top-10.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Etc.

Owner Standings Update: With Christopher Bell taking over the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver points standings lead, the owner standings championship race has been affected. Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 4 Toyota Tundra leads GMS Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet Silverado by 18 points. Brad Keselowski Racing’s No. 29 Ford F-150, ThorSport Racing’s No. 88 Toyota Tundra and Joe Nemechek’s No. 8 Chevrolet Silverado make out the top five.

Manufacturer Standings Update: Toyota added to their lead in the manufacturer championship points standings in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, as they lead Chevrolet by 11 points. Toyota has seven NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins to Chevrolet’s five. Ford is in third place with 372 points and has yet to win this season.

--- NASCAR ---