Tech Talk: Rain tires, procedures ready at Watkins Glen
RELATED: Junior wants to race in the rain The extended weather forecast for Watkins Glen shows only a slight chance of rain for this weekend’s Cheez-It 355 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). But NASCAR officials are prepared to conduct Sunday’s race should inclement weather become an issue. The same holds true for Saturday's Zippo 200 XFINITY Series race (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM), also slated for Watkins Glen. Steve O’Donnell, Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer for NASCAR, told NASCAR.com Monday that should there be rain on Sunday, "the same rules will apply that we've had in the XFINITY Series." In other words, yes, they're prepared to run the Sprint Cup race in the rain. Three XFINITY Series races have been contested in wet conditions – in 2008 and '09 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (Montreal) and last year at Road America (Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin). Goodyear will have an ample supply of rain tires on hand this weekend and teams will be required to install a functional windshield wiper motor, defogger and rear window flashing light for this weekend’s races. The light must be activated during all wet weather conditions, and must be located in the upper left corner inside the rear window. "We've also got Air Titans that we can deploy if there is ... excess water in certain areas," O’Donnell said. Per the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rulebook, under "wet" conditions, cars will line up on the starting grid under a normal "dry" equipment configuration. After a single pace lap, cars will return to pit road to their assigned pit stalls where crewmembers will install rain tires and a front windshield wiper or wipers. The rear flashing light must also be activated at this time. No further adjustments or refueling of the car will be allowed during the stop. Cars will return to the track in their original starting positions behind the pace car to complete the pace laps. Teams can't change to "dry" weather tires until taking the green flag following the start of the event. RACE CENTER EXTRA: How Watkins Glen's unique pit road impacts teams For "damp" conditions: If there is moisture only in certain areas of the track, the start of the race would be similar to those for "wet" conditions, however when pitting after the first pace lap, teams will have the option to install the rain tires, defogger and windshield wiper or wipers. Activation of the rear flashing light is mandatory under both "wet" and "damp" conditions prior to the race start. Once again, the cars will re-enter the track in their original starting position to complete the remaining pace laps. Should a team or teams opt not to change tires during the designated "damp” conditions pit stop, but pit during one of the remaining pace laps, the team or teams will start at the rear of the field in the order in which they return to the track. Sprint Cup Series managing director director Richard Buck will make the determination of track conditions (wet, damp or dry). Finally, if one or more laps are completed under normal dry conditions then rain arrives, NASCAR will display the yellow flag, putting the race under caution. Once pit road has been opened, teams may pit and change tires, install "wet" weather equipment and perform any additional services permitted. They also have the option of remaining on the track, should they so choose. Tire Build for the Glen Unchanged Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series teams will run the same Goodyear tire code at Watkins Glen. It is same build that teams have run there since 2013. XFINITY Series teams also ran the tire at Road America last year. The "wet" weather tire, should it be needed, for both series is the same build as that which was also run at Road America in '14. After the Fact Two of the 32 penalties issued Sunday at Pocono Raceway were assessed after the completion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Joey Logano ( Team Penske ) and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ) both incurred pit road speeding penalties after each driver ran out of gas in the closing laps of the Windows 10 400 . Both Truex (19th) and Logano (20th) finished on the lead lap.
Hayley returns home for Chevrolet Silverado 250
No one would blame Cameron Hayley for getting homesick. The 19-year-old NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver resides in Sandusky, Ohio where his ThorSport Racing team is based -- 1,891.3 miles away from his hometown of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Most of the tracks he races at are even farther away. Distance has not stopped Hayley from chasing his NASCAR dream. Although it's located on the opposite side of Canada, Hayley will have a homecoming of sorts when he performs in front of his fellow countrymen in Sunday's Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (1:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1) -- the NCWTS' only road course race of the season. "Not only is this a track I've been to before, it's also in my home country," said Hayley, who ranks sixth in the NCWTS standings on the strength of three top-five and seven top-10 finishes in 14 starts this season. "I just hope that I will have a good run for all of my Canadian fans." An alumnus of the NASCAR Next initiative highlighting the sport's top up-and-coming drivers, Hayley is still searching for his first NASCAR national series win. If he takes the checkered flag on Sunday, he would be the first Canadian to win a NASCAR national series race since Ron Fellows visited Victory Lane in Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2008. Racing in his first full-time NCWTS season, Hayley has gained momentum lately, logging six top-10 finishes in his last eight starts, including a career-best fourth-place showing at Pocono. He made his series debut at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park last season, finishing 11th and believes his prior experience there will help him on Sunday. "We've done really well at tracks that I've been to in the past this year, already," Hayley said. "I've been to Sonoma a couple times and that place was really difficult. You look at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and think, 'it can’t be as difficult as Sonoma ,' but it's a very fast race track, and fast race tracks are not forgiving. It takes a lot of finesse and a lot of guts to go out there and get it done. We are bringing a really good truck, so I think this will be another good race for us to go out and get a solid top five, if not a win."
Teams set to participate in Watkins Glen test
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams will receive extra track time this week at newly repaved Watkins Glen International, site of the final road-course race on this year's schedule. A total of 16 teams are scheduled to converge on the New York circuit for a two-day organizational test Tuesday and Wednesday in advance of the Aug. 7 Cheez-It 355 at The Glen (2:30 p.m. ET, USA, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The $12 million offseason repaving project marks the first full resurfacing at the facility since 1989. The new asphalt includes the 2.45-mile layout used in NASCAR competition and the longer 3.4-mile configuration used by other series. Five Sprint Cup teams received their first taste of the new pavement in Goodyear tire testing May 10-11. Drivers helping the tire manufacturer select the proper rubber compound for the race were Trevor Bayne , Carl Edwards , Kevin Harvick , Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano . Drivers (in alphabetical order) scheduled to participate this week: -- AJ Allmendinger (JTG Daugherty Racing) -- Ryan Blaney (Wood Brothers Racing) -- Clint Bowyer (HScott Motorsports) -- Chris Buescher (Front Row Motorsports) -- Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing) -- Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing) -- Matt DiBenedetto (BK Racing) -- Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing) -- Chase Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports) -- Brad Keselowski (Team Penske) -- Michael McDowell (Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing) -- Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing) -- Casey Mears (Germain Racing) -- Brian Scott (Richard Petty Motorsports) -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing) -- Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing) The on-track schedule will feature two sessions each day -- 9 a.m.-noon ET and 1-5 p.m. ET. The garage will open both days at 7 a.m. ET. Other new details greeting drivers this week will be new concrete on pit road and on the rumble strips bordering the turns. The track also completed grading and landscaping work in the runoff areas. NASCAR XFINITY Series teams will get extra practice time on the new surface during an expanded race weekend. The schedule was extended from three days to four this year with the addition of two XFINITY practice sessions on Thursday, Aug. 4. The organizational test is the third of five scheduled this season for the Sprint Cup Series. It follows two-day tests at Kentucky Speedway (June 13-14) and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 12-13). The two-day Watkins Glen stop precedes organizational tests at Chicagoland Speedway (Aug. 23-24) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oct. 18-19), sites for the opening race and the finale for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. </p>
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Abreu aiming for fairy tale beginning at familiar Eldora
RELATED: Complete Eldora schedule " Eldora entry list As a rookie this year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series ranks, dirt-racing standout Rico Abreu knew there would be a steep learning curve in his first season competing on bigger, paved speedways in race trucks. But Wednesday's truck race at Ohio's Eldora Speedway half-mile dirt track is another story. And Abreu, 24, would be happy to provide the fairy tale ending. "Definitely, I'm looking forward to it," Abreu said in a recent phone interview, his voice animated with excitement. "Just with my dirt experience and my success at Eldora, it's kind of like a plate race but without restrictors and without a superspeedway and you never know who's going to win. I feel like it's an even playing field." Abreu nearly stood in Eldora's Victory Lane this past weekend, finishing second to Donny Schatz in the Tony Stewart -owned track's famed annual King's Royal World of Outlaw sprint event Saturday. He placed third in races the previous two nights. But perhaps more important, he collected a vital scouting report on the track for this Wednesday's Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby. And Abreu has won at Eldora before. He beat the great Dale Blaney at Eldora in the 2014 All Star Circuit of Champions season finale – the same year he won the USAC Midget Series national championship. A year earlier, he won a USAC race there. Clearly, Eldora is a place on the NASCAR schedule where Abreu feels at home, jokingly conceding the annual one-off dirt race might feel a bit like the Wild Wild West of racing. "I think it's an advantage [to have raced over the weekend], it's just getting a lot of track time and kind of having the chance to see what the track is going to be like," Abreu said. And of course, Eldora presents a huge opportunity to win and punch his ticket into the inaugural Camping World Truck Series Chase, too. Six races remain to set the eight-driver Chase field. Abreu currently is 14th in the driver standings. "It's another chance I have of getting in the Chase," Abreu said. "And if I don't Wednesday night, I'll have another shot then at the next race. I'm not putting too much pressure on myself, not too worried. I'm going to enjoy being at Eldora with all my friends and enjoy the atmosphere." "There's a ton of people there, a fireworks show and you get to see some asphalt trucks racing on dirt, which is new. For me to be a part of it, I'm really looking forward to it. I had a lot of fun watching last year from up in the spotter's stand and I never knew I'd have a chance to race in it." The established, two-time series championship ThorSport Racing team signed Abreu to drive the No. 98 Safelite AutoGlass Toyota Tundra late this offseason. And with very limited pavement experience – although Abreu won a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Columbus, Ohio in his seventh start – he is a solid 14th in the truck standings with a pair of top-10 efforts. His best was a ninth-place finish on the Texas Motor Speedway high banks in June. Abreu's longtime friend and fellow Californian, Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Larson , is a big supporter -- and this week at Eldora, a prime competitor. "Man, Rico ... he almost won Texas a few weeks ago, so that was cool," said Larson, who drives the No. 42 Target Chevy for Chip Ganassi Racing. "He's only been racing for less than 10 years. … It's always taken him a year or two to get things rolling where he can be consistent and figure out how to win, but once he does, he's as good as it gets. "In sprint cars it took him three years, probably, and now he's considered a favorite every time he goes to the race track. He'll learn a lot throughout this year of Truck racing, and hopefully by the end of the year he'll be consistently in the Top 10." Maybe even beginning weekend at Eldora. "I'm very lucky to be doing all this stuff," Abreu said. "I just wish I was doing better, to be honest. I haven't had the best results this year. But we're close. I just need to put a whole night together, and really feel like Eldora could be the turning point of my season."
Drivers gear up for a night on dirt at Eldora
Dirt-track experience isn't a must for those competing in this week's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, the Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby, at Eldora Speedway. But it certainly doesn't hurt. "I think that it's very beneficial to have dirt experience when you're running hot laps and when you're qualifying," Tyler Reddick , driver of the No. 29 Ford for Brad Keselowski Racing, told NASCAR.com. "And a little bit in the heat race, depending on which heat race you're in -- if you're in the first (heat), the track will be a little wetter than it will be in the sixth and it probably means more. "Definitely as you get into the feature, the dirt experience doesn't mean as much, but I'd hate to say it doesn't mean much because if you look at the top three at the end of the race last year, three of the dirt guys in that race (finished) 1-2-3. So I'd hate to tell you that it doesn't mean a lot." Christopher Bell ( Kyle Busch Motorsports), Bobby Pierce (MB Motorsports) and Reddick took the top three spots in last year's annual pilgrimage to the historic Rossburg, Ohio, venue. Bell came up through the USAC circuit , competing in sprints before making the transition to NASCAR and asphalt. Pierce went the Late Model route as did Reddick, each grooming himself for the next step. Reddick is currently seventh in points and seeking his first win of the season. He finished 11th at Eldora in 2014 before his third-place run a year ago. The 11th stop of the season for the series is scheduled to get underway at 9 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Keeping up with the changing track conditions is crucial, Reddick said, but it's also easy to out-think oneself. "One of my mistakes last year was relying on what the old Eldora would have done," he said. "They watered the bottom pretty good last year in that race and I started up toward the front. I made the mistake of going to the top too soon. The bottom hung around for I felt like 20-25 laps. It may not have been that long but it felt that way because I was getting freight trained because I went to the top too soon and everyone was passing me on the bottom. "I guess that's the new Eldora, with less banking the bottom sticks around a bit longer." Two-time series champion Matt Crafton and John Hunter Nemechek , this year's Atlanta race winner, are among the few in the field that have run well consistently at the half-mile track, logging top-10 finishes each season. "Hopefully we break into that top five, maybe top three," Nemechek said. "I felt like we had a great truck last year; we got behind on a couple of adjustments on the first break, (then) we made our truck better." This year's 150-lap feature will be run in three segments of 40, 50 and 60 laps. There will be a competition caution between each segment. "I think that will play a major part in who gambles and who doesn't for track position, when to come take tires," Nemechek said of the format. "Do you take tires both times or stay out and come in for the last one? It's going to put a whole different perspective on it and a whole different strategy for each team." Reddick said he's a fan of the longer final segment but agreed with Nemechek's assessment of varying pit strategies. Track position will likely be key, he said, adding that "as much fun as it is to race there and as easy as you would think it would be to pass, it's actually pretty hard to pass there. "Track position is important. ... The tires are pretty bullet-proof but you can still wear them out I'm sure."