One week removed from Ryan Blaney's triumph in Iowa, the NASCAR Xfinity Series next tackles Watkins Glen International in New York for the Zippo 200.
It's an important event at The Glen, as the names behind series leader Chris Buescher continue to inch closer by the week and make things interesting. This one goes for just more than 200 miles of what is sure to be high-risk, high-reward action at one of the series' most notable locales.
Last week marked a nice change of pace for the series with Blaney, a regular, taking home the checkered flag after Kyle Busch stole one at the Brickyard 400. The never-ending battle with each other and Sprint Cup regulars continues Saturday.
Schedule for Xfinity Series at Watkins Glen
|Friday, August 7||1-2:25 p.m.||Practice||NBCSN|
|Friday, August 7||3:30-4:25 p.m.||Final Practice||NBCSN|
|Saturday, August 8||11:15 a.m.||Qualifying||NBCSN|
|Saturday, August 8||3 p.m.||Zippo 200||NBCSN|
Xfinity Series Standings
|6||Darrell Wallace Jr.||601|
Full standings available at ESPN.com.
Drivers to Watch
While fourth in the standings going into Saturday, Regan Smith finds himself within striking distance of upward movement thanks to a strong run as of late.
Smith owns three consecutive top-10 finishes, his best stretch since April. Last week in Iowa, he finished right behind Blaney for his best finish of the season.
If Smith is going to make a jump, this weekend would seem like an ideal time. He's from nearby and always performs well at The Glen, which would explain why he said the following in a press release (via CatchFence.com): "We are entering a segment of the schedule that I really look forward to, and we’re not in bad shape as far as the title picture goes. As a company, we’re in really good shape and we’re working hard to get closer."
Right now, Smith stands tall as one of the hottest drivers in the series. If he combines it with a comfortable surrounding, he might find himself able to nail down his first checkered flag of the season.
Hey, Sprint Cup Series drivers deserve attention too.
Joey Logano's earned it thanks to his status as one of the most notable names in racing right now. He hasn't been on the Xfinity track since July at Daytona International Speedway, where he finished 14th. His six starts dating back to late February, though, were all of the top-10 variety with three wins.
Anyway, even more interesting are Logano's recent struggles as he looks to qualify for the Chase. He lost a crushing duel against Kyle Busch at the end of July at the Brickyard off a late pass then ran out of fuel after looking like the clear winner at Pocono Raceway last weekend.
Logano's reasons for entering Saturday's Xfinity event are obvious. He wants the practice at the tricky venue and to keep his strong momentum alive. Sweeping both events would be the perfect remedy to his string of heartbreaking losses.
The rest of the Xfinity Series will want to prevent it, but look for Logano to race with nothing to lose Saturday.
Buescher's iron grip on the top slot continues to weaken, with Chase Elliott now just 20 points out of first place thanks to last weekend's happenings in Iowa.
There, Buescher needed a late pit to swap out a tire and wound up 13th, shrinking the gap between him and the rest of the field on the leaderboard. It also gave him a fifth consecutive finish outside of the top 10.
The series leader took to Twitter to talk about the finish and address this weekend:
Last year, Buescher finished 29th at the same event before winning at the next stop on the schedule.
While Buescher has just three road-course starts to his name, he's won one of those, which is a good sign going into The Glen this weekend. Things are approaching uncomfortable territory when it comes to his lead, so look for him to come out aggressively and push for his first win since May.
Stats and info courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.