Weekend Preview: Watkins Glen Invitational | Fieldlevel

When NASCAR resumes racing after the longest split in the program in a few many years, we should be ready to hand the winner’s trophy to Chase Elliott immediately after 82 laps at Watkins Glen Worldwide, right? Immediately after all, the reigning NASCAR Cup Series winner received the past two […]

When NASCAR resumes racing after the longest split in the program in a few many years, we should be ready to hand the winner’s trophy to Chase Elliott immediately after 82 laps at Watkins Glen Worldwide, right?

Immediately after all, the reigning NASCAR Cup Series winner received the past two races at the 2.45-mile highway study course, and he’s the heavy favourite to acquire a 3rd straight in Sunday’s Go Bowling at the Glen (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Elliott’s road study course credentials are impeccable. The driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet picked up his initially career victory at The Glen in 2018 and followed that with yet another win in 2019. There was no race at Watkin Glen in 2020 due to the fact of the coronavirus pandemic.

All advised, seven of Elliott’s 13 Cup victories have occur on road programs, like both of those his wins this 12 months-in the inaugural celebration at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, and the lengthy-awaited return of the NASCAR Cup Sequence to Street The usa.

“We’re fired up to get again to Watkins Glen,” suggests Elliott, who beat runner-up Martin Truex Jr. in his very last two outings to The Glen. “Any time you can run perfectly and get someplace, it is generally pleasant to go back again.

“Winning in the Cup Collection, in standard, is a thing to be proud of, in my belief, regardless of where by it is or who you beat. The very last pair of trips to The Glen, I’ve loved battling Martin. I experience like we share a large amount of mutual regard and have for several decades, so I have enjoyed all those battles with him.”

There is one particular obstacle to Elliott’s march to Victory Lane on Sunday. Just after finishing 18th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the past Cup party just before the Olympic split, he’ll start off 11th at Watkins Glen.

In the past 16 activities at the historic road study course in New York’s Finger Lakes District, the winner has come from the leading 10 on the grid 14 periods — the exceptions remaining Tony Stewart from 13th in 2009 and Joey Logano from 16th in 2015. Elliott’s two victories at the monitor came from third in 2018 and from the pole a year afterwards.

Truex commences two positions ahead of Elliott, so the driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota also will have do the job to do.

“I believe the very last two next-place finishes, it was just keep track of position,” suggests Truex, who picked up his lone victory at WGI in 2017. “The 9 (Elliott) ended up in entrance of us, and we could not move him. That is a truly, seriously rapidly location, and it can be complicated to move. His car was superior in various places than mine.

“From lap instances, we were more rapidly the two yrs — I could get to him, but he was quick in the proper destinations where I couldn’t go him. I will have to with any luck , determine out how to get faster in a number of vital locations.”

The 3 Group Penske motorists — Brad Keselowski, Logano and Ryan Blaney — will get started from the top three places on the grid, in that get. Keselowski concluded next in three consecutive races (2011-13), twice to highway course ace Marcos Ambrose and when to Kyle Busch.

Logano gained at The Glen in 2015 and finished second to Denny Hamlin a 12 months afterwards, but in his very last three commences there, he has a very best consequence of 23rd. Blaney’s finest complete was fifth in 2019, in his fourth Cup commence at the observe.

With the Cup debut at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Program to adhere to, Sunday’s Go Bowling at the Glen is the very first of two straight street training course races and the 23rd occasion of the 26-race Cup regular season.

At WGI, two very significant battles are established to consider spot. Hamlin, who is winless this yr, is battling to retain his series points direct above Kyle Larson, with 15 Playoff factors and an automated Playoff berth on the line for the normal-season champion.

Hamlin holds a 13-point direct about four-time winner Larson, who has clinched a Playoff berth thanks to his several visits to Victory Lane.

At the base of the Playoff grid, Tyler Reddick sales opportunities Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon by 5 factors in a heated battle for the ultimate Playoff situation.

Austin Cindric is looking for initially highway system victory of 2021

An attained highway study course racer, Austin Cindric picked up his 1st NASCAR Xfinity Collection victory at Watkins Glen Intercontinental in 2019, the very last time the collection raced at the 2.45-mile street class.

4 of Cindric’s 12 job wins have appear at highway courses, but all four of his 2021 victories have arrive at ovals: Daytona, Phoenix, Dover and Pocono. There’s a strong risk that could improve in Saturday’s Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey 200 (4 p.m. ET on CNBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Amongst his victory at The Glen in 2019 and Saturday’s return, Cindric has posted 11 wins and captured the collection championship with a victory in the time finale at Phoenix last calendar year.

“I’ve believed about it, mainly because we did not have the race very last period, and clearly the last time we were being there, I gained the race, and it was my initial earn in the Xfinity Sequence,” states Cindric, who will get started from the outside the house of the entrance row next to polesitter Justin Allgaier. “And to imagine how far I’ve occur as a driver in that amount of money of time is very outstanding, and I have obtained a ton of the same guys around me.

“It’s going to be enjoyment to form of exhibit up there knowing what we did the very last time, but it is nevertheless the same problem. Which is not likely to make it any less complicated, I can assure you that, but it is a exciting race monitor. It’s a terrific observe to have on the routine, and I know there’s often a wonderful lover base that reveals up at that put, so on the lookout forward to heading again.”

If Cindric, the current series leader, is easily in a Playoff place this season, drivers on the bubble by definition are not. With 7 races still left in the regular period, Michael Annett at present holds the very last of 12 Playoff-eligible placement by 32 factors in excess of Riley Herbst and 41 details around Brandon Brown.

Annett missed the previous two Xfinity races soon after suffering a tension fracture in his suitable femur, which has been surgically fixed. Following recovering all through the Olympic break, the driver of the No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet has been cleared to race at Watkins Glen.

Annett also retained his Playoff eligibility, thanks to a clinical waiver from NASCAR.

NASCAR Tenting Earth Truck Sequence motorists encounter Playoff cutoff race

It’s the last-chance showdown for drivers hoping to make the NASCAR Camping Planet Truck Collection Playoff.

With one race left in the typical season, 7 motorists now have clinched Playoff berths: typical-year winner and five-time winner John Hunter Nemechek, Ben Rhodes, Austin Hill, Todd Gilliland, Zane Smith, Matt Crafton and defending series champion Sheldon Creed.

That leaves 3 places available moving into Saturday’s United Rentals 176 at Watkins Glen International (12:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Carson Hocevar, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith currently occupy the last a few Playoff-suitable positions. Provided that Smith holds a 40-stage lead around Derek Kraus — the first driver out — it’s possible Kraus will have to win the race to progress to the postseason.

The exact is true of Tyler Ankrum and 2016 sequence champion Johnny Sauter, who are 44 and 51 factors beneath the cutoff, respectively.

Smith, on the other hand, simply wants to avoid disaster — and to stay away from the whammy of a driver below him in the standings profitable the race.

“I think the greatest detail for us likely to Watkins Glen is just not beating ourselves,” suggests Smith, who will start off third behind Hill and Gilliland. “We’ve bought to finish the race, make sure we are 25th or superior, have a stable working day on my end and the pit crew’s finish and hope all the things goes our way.”

Former NASCAR Cup Collection driver Paul Menard will push a fifth truck for ThorSport Racing on Saturday. While the Truck Sequence has not competed at Watkins Glen considering the fact that 2000, Menard has a put together 27 countrywide sequence starts off there — 11 in the Xfinity Series and 16 in Cup.

To gain the race, nevertheless, Menard will have to get over a 39th-spot commencing position.

Up coming Race: Go Bowling at The Glen

The Area: Watkins Glen Intercontinental

The Date: Sunday, August 8

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Length: 220.5 miles (90 Laps) Phase 1 (Ends on Lap 20),

Stage 2 (Finishes on Lap 40), Last Stage (Ends on Lap 90)

Subsequent Race: Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey 200

The Area: Watkins Glen Global

The Date: Saturday, August 7

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 200.9 miles (82 Laps) Phase 1 (Finishes on Lap 20),

Phase 2 (Finishes on Lap 40), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 82)

NASCAR Camping Globe Truck Series

Subsequent Race: United Rentals 176

The Position: Watkins Glen Intercontinental

The Date: Saturday, August 7

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Length: 176.4 miles (72 Laps) Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 20),

Phase 2 (Finishes on Lap 45), Last Stage (Ends on Lap 72)

–By Reid Spencer, NASCAR NewsWire, Particular to Discipline Stage Media

Jacquelin Burkhammer

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