Photo: Justin R. Noe/ASP, Inc.

Up to Speed: Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen Preview

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

It’s the 20th race of the season and three full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series regulars have combined to score seven victories. The Xfinity Series returns to Watkins Glen Internationalfor the Zippo 200. A slew of Cup drivers, the possibility of racing in the rain, and stage racing are just some of the storylines heading into the 20th race of the season.

Coverage for the Zippo 200 is scheduled to start Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET. Watkins Glen has been on the schedule from 1991 through 2001, and 2005-present. The track has hosted the 20th race of the season since 2015. In 24 races at the 2.450-mile road course, 14 drivers have visited victory lane.

Only three times has a Xfinity Series regular won at the eight-turn road course. Marcos Ambrose is the most recent, winning in 2008. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (1999) and Mike McLaughlin (1997) are the only other two drivers competing exclusively for the Xfinity Series Championship to win at the historic track. Ron Fellows is the only ‘Road Course Ringer’ to upset the regulars, winning in 1998, 2000, and 2001.

The last time the Xfinity Series visited The Glen, Kyle Busch took the victory in dominant and dramatic fashion, leading 43 laps. After an early spin, Busch drove back through the field to win by 1.049 seconds. Three drivers that finish in the top-10 that day are entered in Saturday’s race.

By the Numbers

What: Zippo 200, NASCAR Xfinity Series Race 20

Where: Watkins Glen International– Watkins Glen, New York (Opened: 1956)

TV/Radio: NBC, 3:30 p.m. ET / MRN and SiriusXM Channel 90

Track Size: 2.450-mile, Eight-Turn Road Course.

Banking: Varies

Race Length: 82 Laps, 200 Miles (Three Stages, 20/40/82)

2017 Race Winner: Kyle Busch – No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Rowdy Toyota Camry (Started second, 43 laps led).

Track Qualifying Record: Joey Logano (1:10.814 seconds, 124.552 mph – 8/6/2016).

Storylines Heading into the Zippo 200:

There are several storylines going into this weekend’s race to watch for:

  • Elliott Sadler will have Artic Cat as the primary sponsor of his No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro SS for JR Motorsports.
  • Austin Dillon returns to the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops / Cabela’s Chevrolet Camaro SS for Richard Childress Racing.
  • Brad Keselowski will be in the No. 12 Wabash National Ford Mustang for Team Penske.
  • Victor Gonzalez, Jr. will attempt to make his first series start since 2012 in the No. 17 PMC Group Chevrolet Camaro SS for Niece Motorsports. This is the first time the full-time, second-year Truck Series team is attempting an Xfinity Series race.
  • Ryan Preece returns to the No. 18 Craftsman Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing.
  • Joey Logano will be in the No. 22 Snap-On Ford Mustang for Team Penske.
  • AJ Allmendinger will make his first series start since 2013 in the No. 23 Allegiant Chevrolet Camaro SS for GMS Racing. Allmendinger is going for his third-straight Xfinity win.
  • Justin Haley returns to the No. 24 FOE Chevrolet Camaro SS for GMS Racing.
  • Kyle Larson returns to the No. 42 Chevrolet Accessories Chevrolet Camaro SS for Chip Ganassi Racing.
  • David Levine will attempt his series debut in the No. 55 Prevagen Toyota Camry for JP Motorsports.
  • Austin Cindric returns to the No. 60 LTi Printing Ford Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing.
  • Kaz Grala returns in the No. 61 DMB Financial Ford Mustang for Fury Race Cars LLC.
  • Aric Almirola returns in the No. 98 Go Bowling Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste Racing.

Weekend Schedule (All Times Eastern)

Friday, August 3

  • NXS Practice 1 (12:35 p.m. – 1:25 p.m., on NBCSN)
  • NXS Practice 2 (2:05 p.m. – 3:25 p.m., on NBCSN)

Saturday, August 4

  • NXS Qualifying (11:35 a.m., on NBC)
  • NXS Zippo 200 (3:30 p.m. – 82 laps, 200 miles – on NBC, SiriusXM Channel 90, and the Motor Racing Network)

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Seth Eggert has followed NASCAR his entire life. Seth is currently pursuing a writing career and is majoring in Communications and Journalism. He is an avid iRacer and video gamer. Seth also tutors students at Mitchell Community College in multiple subjects. He has an Associate's Degree in History.