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Watkins Glen reveals NASCAR weekend schedule
WATKINS GLEN , N.Y. -- Watkins Glen International has announced the official race weekend schedule for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , NASCAR XFINITY Series , and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East tripleheader weekend, August 3-6. This year's event will feature an enhanced Sunday lineup featuring Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at 12:35 p.m. EST, just hours prior to the start of the 90-lap race, which goes green at 3 p.m. EST. "NASCAR continues to work closely with tracks to create unique opportunities to interact with the stars of the sport," said Jim Cassidy, senior Vice President, Racing Operations for NASCAR. "A number of our track partners have certainly embraced the concept, and fans attending those NASCAR race weekends will get to experience the enhanced model." The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East 100 and NASCAR XFINITY Series Zippo 200 will take center stage on Friday, August 4th and Saturday, August 5th, with the sport's up-and-coming stars taking on the historic 2.45-mile road course in search of a precious win and points that could propel their team in the hunt for a championship. "We are very excited to announce the schedule for this year's NASCAR tripleheader at Watkins Glen International ," said WGI president Michael Printup. "With races on back-to-back-to-back days, and the addition of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying on Sunday, our fans will be treated to non-stop excitement on the track from Friday morning through Sunday afternoon." 2017 NASCAR at The Glen weekend event schedule: Friday, August 4 12:00 PM 1:25 PM NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Final Practice 1:30 PM 2:25 PM NASCAR XFINITY Series Practice 2:35 PM 3:25 PM NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Qualifying 3:30 PM 4:25 PM NASCAR XFINITY Series Final Practice 5:00 PM NASCAR K&N Pro Series East 100 at The Glen 7:00 PM Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series On-Track Hauler Parade Saturday, August 5 10:00 AM 10:55 AM Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Practice 11:05 AM NASCAR XFINITY Series Qualifying 12:30 PM 1:20 PM Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Final Practice 2:00 PM NASCAR XFINITY Series Zippo 200 at The Glen Sunday, August 6 12:35 PM Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying 3:00 PM Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at The Glen NASCAR returns to Watkins Glen International August 3-6 for a tripleheader weekend featuring the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , NASCAR XFINITY Series , and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. For tickets, call 1-866-461-RACE or log on to www.theglen.com .
The Rundown: Watkins Glen driver grades
RELATED: Complete race results " Updated Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International : 1. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Six weeks after making a mistake on the final turn at Sonoma that cost him his first road-course victory, Hamlin triumphs at Watkins Glen . This time, he capitalized on the mistakes of others and led the final 10 laps for his second victory of the season. Grade: A+ 2. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Despite a pit-road speeding penalty on Lap 34 and right-front damage, Logano worked his way back through the field for his fourth consecutive top 10 at Watkins Glen . Grade: A 3. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski and Kyle Busch restarted in the front row with 10 laps to go, but both overshot Turn 1 opening the door for Denny Hamlin . That wasn't Keselowski's final mistake. Running third entering the final turn, he turned second-place Martin Truex Jr . when a crossover move went awry. Grade: B 4. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Sunday was a day of extreme highs and lows for Allmendinger. A pit-road speeding penalty on Lap 26 cost him terrific track position. Then he just missed getting collected in the big wreck on Lap 54. But instead of being elated for tying a personal best with his second top five of the season, he was disconsolate after punting Kyle Larson just before the finish line. "I turned him," said Allmendinger, searching for words. "Not on purpose. ... I'm not very happy with myself on that. I don't want to do that, especially for fourth place at the end. … I just cost Kyle a good finish. I'm just pissed off at myself." More on Larson's 29th-place finish later. Grade: B 5. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart posted his eighth top-five finish in his 16th and final start at Watkins Glen . It also was his fifth top five in his past seven starts. Stewart is smokin'. Grade: A 6. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch was in prime position to vie for his third victory at Watkins Glen when he restarted from the front row with 10 laps to go. Instead, he overshot the first turn along with race leader Brad Keselowski , handing an opportunity to Hamlin. Grade: A- 7. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Truex was running second coming to the final turn when he was turned by Brad Keselowski . The two talked after the race. "He said it was his fault," Truex said. "I said, 'I knew that.' Simple as that." Pretty much sums up Truex's sixth top 10 in 11 starts at Watkins Glen . Grade: A 8. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Big, big day for McMurray, whose finish -- his first top 10 at the Glen since 2010 -- was ahead of all his competition on the Chase bubble. Grade: A 9. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne was another bubble winner. He climbed a spot in the Chase standings to 17th, but more important, he picked up 20 points on 16th-place Kyle Larson and now trails Larson by eight points with four races to go before the Chase field is set. Grade: A 10. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . How's this for tidy? Making his 600th start, Kenseth posted his 300th top 10. Grade: A 11. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch had a solid finish, but it was no match for his Olympic Team USA-inspired shoes. Grade: US-B 12. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears weaved his way through the carnage of the big wreck on Lap 54 to tie his best finish of the season (12th last month at Daytona). Grade: A 13. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott stemmed his recent string of bad finishes with his best finish since coming in second at Michigan two months ago. Grade: B 14. Jeff Gordon , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon overcame heavy damage to the nose of the No. 88 on Lap 4 and later just missed getting collected by Ricky Stenhouse Jr .'s spinning car in the big wreck on Lap 54 to post his second top 15 in three starts since coming out of retirement to sub for Dale Earnhardt Jr . Grade: B 15. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards started from the pole and led the first 25 laps but was hit with a penalty on his first pit stop for a wayward tire. Being deep in the field with a fast car is not where you want to be on a road course, and Edwards paid for it when he was collected in a wreck with 34 laps to go. Grade: B- 16. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman was running 20th on the restart after the sixth caution when the No. 31 got loose and spun out. Attrition helped Newman record his sixth top-16 finish in his past seven starts at Watkins Glen . Grade: B- 17. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell recorded his best finish in eight starts at Watkins Glen and his third-best finish this season. Grade: A 18. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Bowyer suffered front-end damage in a wreck with 34 laps to go but still posted one of his better finishes of the season. Grade: B 19. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney remained in the thick of the Chase race despite a pit-road speeding penalty on Lap 22 and running off the track into the grass 20 laps later. Grade: C 20. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne simply was not competitive, and a penalty because the No. 5 crew was over the wall too soon on the first caution didn't help. But the numbers don't lie: Kahne spent a grand total of three laps in the top 15. Still, Kahne is only 10 points behind Kyle Larson for 16th in the Chase standings. Grade: C- 21. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick led a career-high 11 laps (previous best was seven at Talladega in October 2014), but she was running in her normal midpack position when she was caught up in Paul Menard 's dirt storm on Lap 84 and sustained heavy damage. Grade: B- 22. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Speaking of Menard ... the No. 27 team was penalized for throwing its fuel can on Lap 49, but the team's biggest faux pas came when its driver ran off the course on Lap 84 and spewed dirt onto the track, forcing enough cars behind him to drive blindly and lose grip to cause a seven-car wreck, bringing out the eighth caution and second red flag of the day. Grade: D 23. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Despite spinning out in the grass in the bus stop and bringing out the fifth caution for the debris he left on the track, Cassill tied his best finish at Watkins Glen . Grade: C 24. Boris Said , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . It wouldn't be Watkins Glen without Boris Said in the field. Making his 16th start at The Glen , Said posted his 10th top-25 finish. Grade: C 25. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott's first Sprint Cup start at Watkins Glen produced a better finish than the first Glen starts of Kyle Busch (33rd), Jeff Gordon (31st), Kurt Busch (29th) and Martin Truex Jr . (28th). That's something to hang your helmet on. Grade: B 26. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise got his best finish in three starts at Watkins Glen . He finished 38th in the previous two (2012, 2014). Grade: B 27. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . A pit-road penalty on the No. 43 team for being over the wall too soon on the first pit stop and the wreck on Paul Menard 's dirt spray contributed to Almirola's worst finish at Watkins Glen since 2013. Grade: C- 28. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Witt could not improve on his 21st-place finish last year at Watkins Glen despite starting 22nd. Grade: C 29. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson was easily the biggest loser Sunday. He had a fourth-place finish in the bag until he was punted by AJ Allmendinger short of the finish line. Instead his car hit the wall and was destroyed. The 24-point difference between fifth and 29th has huge Chase implications. As it stands, Larson is 16th in the Chase standings but by a mere eight points over Trevor Bayne . And as far as moving up, Larson is 30 points behind Jamie McMurray instead of five. (Larson would have finished ahead of McMurray, dropping him to ninth Sunday.) As for the apologetic Allmendinger, he "has got a few coming," Larson said. Grade: A 30. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . A big mistake (pit-road penalty for tossing a fuel can) and bad luck (getting caught up in Paul Menard 's dirt storm) were tempered because the driver he's competing with for 30th in the points standings, David Ragan , also was collected in the Lap 84 wreck. At one point Sunday, Buescher was 13 points behind Ragan. Because of the wreck, he finished the day three back with four races remaining to get into the top 30 and qualify for the Chase. Grade: C 31. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon was involved in two wrecks (Lap 4 and Lap 54), with the latter bringing out the first red flag and being a difference maker for the No. 3 team. When Dillon returned to the track, all the sheet metal from the front of the car was gone, but with a spot in the Chase on the line, every point matters. He dropped two spots to 14th in the Chase standings but caught a big break when Kyle Larson was wrecked. Dillon leads 16th-place Larson by 39 points. Grade: C- 32. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick was running third with 30 laps to go when he went to pit road because of a flat-spotted tire. He came out 33rd, the last car on the lead lap. The extra pit stop made him vulnerable to midpack mishaps, and that's exactly what happened when his car was destroyed in the wake of the Paul Menard dirt storm. Grade: C 33. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan was collected in two wrecks, with the final melee delivering a knockout blow. Ragan's welfare is of great importance to drivers on the Chase bubble. If Chris Buescher , with one win, replaces Ragan in 30th in the standings, the winless driver 16th in the Chase standings will need a win to qualify for the postseason. Grade: C 34. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . Sunday wasn't one of DiBenedetto's better days. He sustained a pit-road penalty, went for a spin on the Lap 81 restart and then absorbed his sixth DNF of the season because of a crash when he was caught up in the Lap 84 mess. On the other hand, he spent the fourth-most laps running in the top 15 of the drivers who finished 21st through 40th. Grade: D 35. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Car woes limited Smith to 77 laps. Grade: D 36. Alex Kennedy , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Kennedy was caught up in the wreck that caused the fourth caution, and he brought out the sixth caution when his engine blew 20 laps later. Grade: F 37. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett was running at the finish, but brake issues limited him to 77 laps. Grade: F 38. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse was driving aggressively after the restart following the second caution and touched off the big crash on Lap 53 when he lost control of his car coming out of the carrousel heading into Turn 6. The No. 17 hit the inside wall straight on and then took another big hit when Jimmie Johnson T-boned the car when it ricocheted back onto the track. Grade: F 39. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle's day ended in the big crash on Lap 53. He said he thought he had cleared Ricky Stenhouse Jr .'s car but was hit from behind by Austin Dillon . Wrong place, wrong time. Grade: D 40. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson paid dearly for an early pit-road speeding penalty that put him in the back of the field when he was collected in the big wreck on Lap 53. It was Johnson's fourth DNF for a crash in the past nine races. Grade: F
Hard tires, reworked curbing present challenges at repaved Watkins Glen
RELATED: Before and after: Watkins Glen repave WATKINS GLEN , N.Y. -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams wrapped up a two-day organizational test Wednesday at newly repaved Watkins Glen International , emerging with better ideas of the challenges they'll face when the series returns for the Aug. 4-7 race weekend. Among those challenges: reworked curbing, a fast circuit and a harder-compound tire that has made grip elusive. A total of 16 Sprint Cup teams -- one permitted from each organization -- tried to unlock the novelty of the $12 million resurfacing project, using a Goodyear tire that emphasizes durability at the expense of traction and wear. The rubber compound chosen is similar to that used July 9 at Kentucky Speedway, site of the Sprint Cup Series' most recent race on a repaved track. At Kentucky, the tire selection made for treacherous conditions in certain spots and made passing a delicate process. Though road courses don't lend themselves to the multi-groove racing seen at several well-aged oval tracks, Watkins Glen might still be a tricky place to maneuver when the series reconvenes for the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen . "The main thing we've learned so far is how hard the tire is," said Jamie McMurray, driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet. "It just seems to be no wear at all or lap time fall-off right now. This place didn't ever wear tires like Sonoma, but it seems like the tire is pretty hard." Sonoma, the other road course where the Sprint Cup Series races, is a much more intricate circuit with qualifying speeds roughly 30 mph slower than at Watkins Glen's open, free-wheeling layout. The Goodyear tire compound designated for both the Watkins Glen test and the race weekend is the same used for right-side tires in XFINITY Series competition at Iowa Speedway. Those Iowa right-sides will be used at all four corners for the Sprint Cup event at the 2.45-mile road course. Racing with a softer tire with more adhesion would potentially introduce the threat of excessive wear or blistering. It's a trade-off that Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Chase Elliott says he's willing to accept. "I think a lot of it is just having a fresh surface like this, you've got to have a tire that's pretty hard," said Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports' driver representative for the two-day test. "It's fast, and to ask a tire to hold up, you've got to bring something that's durable. It puts Goodyear in a tough spot, but I think they do a good job of trying to make the most of tough situations. There's been a lot of repaves here lately and I know they're working hard." David Groseclose, NASCAR's lead tire engineer, said Wednesday that the benefits of competing with a more rigid rubber compound outweighed the potential drawbacks. "As with all repaves -- same thing as Kentucky -- if you don't have a hard tire, you're going to blister them up," Groseclose said. "The way that works is if you've got a soft compound and you use it, the soft compounds tend to retain heat. It's just the nature of a soft compound. But on a repave, it's not going to wear so that heat's not going to be dissipated out of the tire. It has nowhere to go, so it stays in the tire, so that's why it blisters up. That's what we saw at Kentucky with the XFINITY and Truck Series." In addition to the surface itself, the track features new concrete for the rumble strips that border the circuit's turns and run-off areas. Some drivers found the differences barely noticeable, but Kurt Busch discovered a distinction the hard way with an early Tuesday spin as he bounded over the apex points in the backstretch chicane on one of his initial laps. "It's a lot different," said Tony Gibson, Busch's crew chief on the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet. "Kurt's like, 'I've got to learn all the curbs again.' The curbs over in the bus stop (chicane) are probably the biggest change. They're way more aggressive, and they've tightened up, so it's a lot tighter lane through there." Said Elliott, who will race here in Sprint Cup for the first time next weekend: "Some of the curbs may be a little different here or there, some a little rougher, a little smoother just depending on how they laid the asphalt in or however it worked. It's as close as you could make a track from an old surface to a repave, for sure." Five Sprint Cup teams participated in a Goodyear tire test May 10-11, and another 16 were present for this week's organizational test. For the remaining half of the field, the work toward finding the proper handle begins with opening practice on Friday, Aug. 5. "If you get your balance right, it'll be a no-drama," Gibson said. "Man, I told Kurt earlier, 'I'd hate to know I had to come here next Friday and hit the track for the first time and try to figure out these curbs and how much the race track has changed.' It'll be a handful in the short amount of time we get to practice. "It'll be interesting to see when we come back who has issues and who doesn't. But it's definitely going to be a plus to come and learn the race track, even if your car is not right or whatever, just getting here and getting behind the wheel and getting time on the race track is going to mean more." Pit notes: -- The full roster (in alphabetical order) of drivers and teams participating in the test: 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), 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), Regan Smith (Tommy Baldwin Racing), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing), Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing). -- Casey Mears turned the fastest lap in the two-day test, which was divided into four sessions of four hours apiece. Mears pushed the Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet in the closing session to a best lap of 126.7 mph, a good bit slower than the track qualifying record of 129.491 mph set by Marcos Ambrose in August 2014. -- Brad Keselowski returned to the track Wednesday, one day after his severe, nearly head-on crash in Turn 1. He turned 74 laps over both sessions in a reserve Team Penske No. 2 Ford. -- Two teams -- Furniture Row Racing (driver Martin Truex Jr.) and Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing (driver Michael McDowell) -- were absent from testing's opening day, arriving in the Watkins Glen garage Wednesday in time for the two closing sessions. -- Wednesday's final session was extended 30 minutes to a 5:30 p.m. ET close because of a nearly hour-long clean-up for fluid on the track. After Chase Elliott's No. 24 Chevrolet suffered a broken axle, Clint Bowyer's No. 15 Chevy ran over the part, damaging the car's transmission. -- NASCAR XFINITY Series teams are scheduled to turn their first laps on the new Watkins Glen surface next Thursday. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will stage a support race the following day on the 2.45-mile course.
Hamlin earns first career road course win at Watkins Glen
RELATED: Results " Standings " Chase Grid SHOP: Hamlin gear WATKINS GLEN , N.Y. – Denny Hamlin , winner of Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at the Glen , entertained a sold-out grandstand with a celebratory burnout that trailed a plume of smoke the entire length of the frontstretch at Watkins Glen International . But Hamlin's smoke show — with a bad back, no less — paled in comparison to the fireworks that preceded the checkered flag, Hamlin's first at a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series road course. The race was in doubt until the final corner, with Martin Truex Jr . pressuring Hamlin, who led the final 10 laps after surging past Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch in Turn 1 following a Lap 81 restart. RELATED: Second red flag brought out after another wild restart But Truex never got a chance to drag-race Hamlin's No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to the finish line. As the cars neared the exit from Turn 7, with Truex running second and Keselowski third, contact from Keselowski's No. 2 Ford sent Truex's No. 78 Toyota spinning. Defending race winner Joey Logano took advantage of the melee to finish second ahead of Keselowski and 2014 Watkins Glen winner AJ Allmendinger , who knocked Kyle Larson off the track and into the inside barrier on the way to a fourth-place finish. Tony Stewart recovered from an early mistake—blowing the inner loop and losing 10 positions in the process—to finish fifth. Kyle Busch was sixth and Truex seventh after the last-lap spin. Hamlin won the race in pain, with nerve endings on fire in his back. "I just woke up with back spasms this morning," he explained. "Just hits me every three or four months or so. I just wake up and can't move. Really doubted being in the race car today, to be honest with you, but can't say enough about this whole FedEx Freight Toyota team. "Should've won both road courses (Hamlin was second to Stewart at Sonoma ), which is something we never would've predicted going into the year. Sold out crowd, two years in a row, this is a good time. I've finally won at all of the (types of) race tracks, so it's a great accomplishment for us." For the second-straight year, the Daytona 500 champion also has gone to Victory Lane at the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen road course, with Hamlin joining 2015 winner Logano in that accomplishment. The victory was Hamlin’' second of the season and the 28th of his career, and though Hamlin was in a mood to celebrate, there were plenty of hurt feelings behind him. Keselowski took responsibility for the incident with Truex, who expressed his displeasure by banging fenders with the No. 2 car on the cool-down lap. "I got right up to the bumper of the 78 (Truex) and couldn't do anything there, and he made a move to get by the 11 (Hamlin) on the inside, and the 11 blocked him," Keselowski said. "I went high, and the 78 went high, and by then I was already deep in the corner and got into him and turned him. That was really unfortunate, and the last thing I wanted to see. "This track here, when you drive into the corner, you commit, and sometimes you don't know what will happen when you commit. The last thing I wanted to do was turn him. I'm proud of my guys for a really fast race car and it was another crazy Watkins Glen day." That craziness included eight cautions for 20 laps, four for multicar incidents in the final 38 laps. There were two yellows after Hamlin took the lead on Lap 81, when Kyle Busch and Keselowski ran wide in Turn 1, and Hamlin seized the moment. RELATED: Big wreck brings heavy damage to multiple cars at The Glen After the final restart on Lap 87 of 90, Truex stayed close to Hamlin, almost getting to the bumper of the No. 11 in the final corner before the contact from Keselowski turned him. The ensuing chaos allowed Hamlin to cross the finish line 2.065 seconds ahead of Logano for a victory that was nowhere near as comfortable as that margin might seem to indicate. It was an ending befitting a race track accustomed to wild racing. "Typical Watkins Glen ," Logano said. "I mean, it's just awesome, crazy racing, full contact. Just insane out there. So a lot of fun from the driver's seat and I'm sure the fans loved it as well in front of a sold out grandstand. It was pretty cool when I pulled over for the red flag in front of the grandstands and I could hear just fans screaming and yelling and loving it. I thought, 'Man, this is really cool to be in the driver's seat right now.' " </p>
Boris Said to run Watkins Glen with Go Fas Racing
RELATED: Full entry list for road course Go Fas Racing is pleased to announce that Boris Said will return to pilot the No. 32 Genesee Brewing Company Ford Fusion at Watkins Glen International in August. Said has 51 starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from 1999-2015. The Carlsbad, California native has 15 NSCS starts at Watkins Glen including two top-ten finishes, one top-five finish and a best finish of third which came in 2005. Rochester, New York-based Genesee Brewing Company has agreed to once again sponsor Go Fas Racing and Boris Said. The No. 32 Ford Fusion features a design inspired by Genesee's heritage that was first introduced in 2015. "I'm always excited when it comes to racing at Watkins Glen ," said Boris Said. "Not only is Watkins Glen one of my favorite race tracks anywhere in the world, I just love the area, the fans, the food and everything about it! Being able to represent Genesee is a huge honor, so hopefully I can put on a good show for them." According to Matt Goldman, channel marketing manager for Genesee, the 138-year-old beer company, is thrilled to be a primary sponsor at The Glen for the fifth consecutive year, and third with Go Fas Racing. "We're excited to bring both Genesee and racing legend Boris Said back to the Glen this August. Genesee is the oldest brewery in New York, and has enjoyed incredible popularity among race fans across the state. We can't wait to connect with them once again this summer." "We're extremely proud to announce the continuation of our partnership with Genesee Brewing Company for the third consecutive year at Watkins Glen ", said Team Owner Archie St. Hilaire. "The Genesee Brewery and their local distributors do a tremendous job marketing the partnership throughout the upstate New York area leading up to the race weekend with over 40 show car events and appearances. Boris will again be behind the wheel of the No.32 Genesee Ford Fusion and we couldn't be more excited to have him driving for us again."
Watkins Glen grandstands sell out for second straight year
During the driver meetings prior to Sunday's Cheez-It 355 , Watkins Glen International President Michael Printup announced a grandstand sellout for the second consecutive season. "This is a great testament to the passion and dedication our fans have for Watkins Glen International ," Printup said. "We're looking forward to a great race and delivering an incredible experience that keeps our fans coming back year after year." In addition, the track also announced plans for a new viewing deck outside the Esses (turns 2-4) in 2017. Joe Gibbs, owner of the winning No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, acknowledged the massive turnout during a post-race interview session with reporters. "First of all, it's great to be able to come to New York and Watkins Glen and race," Gibbs said. "I want to say congratulations to everybody here. What impressed me a lot was that crowd. To have a sell-out crowd here is huge for our sport. It's big for all of our sponsors. We had a number of them here with us this weekend." Team Penske driver Joey Logano had similar thoughts. "Typical Watkins Glen ," he said. "I mean, it's just awesome, crazy racing, full contact. Just insane out there. So a lot of fun from the driver's seat and I'm sure the fans loved it as well in front of a sold‑out grandstand. It was pretty cool when I pulled over for the red flag in front of the grandstands and I could hear just fans screaming and yelling and loving it. I thought, '<an, this is really cool to be in the driver's seat right now.' "
Watkins Glen mayhem tightens XFINITY Chase standings
Related: Zippo 200 at The Glen Results " Updated Chase Grid WATKINS GLEN , N.Y. -- Early misfortunes, including a major multi-car wreck, had an unsettling effect on the Chase chances for several NASCAR XFINITY Series playoff hopefuls Saturday at Watkins Glen International . Darrell Wallace Jr . and Blake Koch were among the hardest hit in a 10-car stack-up on the 18th of 82 laps in the Zippo 200, a pileup that forced a red flag of nearly 14 minutes. Wallace's Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 Ford sustained heavy front-end damage and spent plenty of time in the garage for repairs, extending his streak to four straight races without a top-10 finish. He wound up 29th in the final rundown, 19 laps off the pace. Wallace started and ended the day ninth on the provisional Chase grid, but slipped to just a 16-point edge over 10th-place Ryan Reed -- the wrong direction for momentum ahead of the playoffs. "All I see is we have bad luck and it is getting old, my friend," Wallace told NBCSN. "It is unfortunate for my team. We come here and I messed up on the first lap in the first practice we had, and then we were sitting pretty for the rest of the weekend. It is just getting old. We will go on to Mid-Ohio and try to have some luck there." Koch's Kaulig Racing No. 11 Chevrolet was done for the day with damage all around. Koch, who was clinging to the final spot on the provisional Chase grid after last weekend's event at Iowa Speedway , failed to finish for the second time in the last four races. "Just points. That's the only thing going through my mind from the first impact, all I thought was points," Koch said. "It's not good, but I made a mistake early on and lost a bunch of spots and got us back there and that kind of started it. I've just got to be a little bit smarter at these road courses, but man, I hate it for everybody." Koch was evaluated and released from the infield care center, but had his right hand bandaged -- a byproduct, he said, of blisters from all of the shifting in Thursday's extended XFINITY practice on Watkins Glen's new pavement. "You know what, I need to have manlier hands," Koch said with a laugh. "That's the issue." Jeremy Clements was another driver with plenty to gain from the multicar wreck, entering the day tied for the top spot among drivers outside the provisional Chase grid. But Clements' No. 51 Chevrolet had its own pitfalls, limping to the garage with a broken track bar on Lap 9 and returning for a 25th-place finish. He dropped from 13th to 15th in the series standings. Ross Chastain took sole possession of 13th place in the XFINITY standings with a 14th-place outing Saturday at The Glen . He closed from 24 points back to just a two-point gap behind Koch in the final cut-off spot. The XFINITY Series sticks to road racing next week for Saturday's Mid-Ohio Challenge (3:30 p.m. ET, USA, MRN, SiriusXM) at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course .
Dale Jr. to be at Watkins Glen , meet with media
RELATED: Dale Jr. updates fans on his plans for future " Junior's injury timeline Dale Earnhardt Jr ., sidelined since early July by concussion-like symptoms, will be at Watkins Glen International on Friday as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams begin preparations for Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen . The Hendrick Motorsports driver will not be back behind the wheel of the familiar No. 88 Chevrolet but he is scheduled to meet with members of the media at noon ET Friday. The event will be live streamed on NASCAR.com. Press Pass: Stream Earnhardt Jr.'s interview Friday at noon It will be his first appearance at a track since he finished 13th at Kentucky Speedway on July 9. Five days after that race, HMS officials announced he had not been cleared by doctors to return to competition. Alex Bowman handled the driving duties for the team the following week at New Hampshire. Jeff Gordon , four-time Sprint Cup Series champion and winner of 93 Sprint Cup events, took over at Indianapolis and Pocono, and will remain the team's driver this weekend at The Glen as well as at Bristol on Aug. 20. Gordon, who retired from competing after the 2015 season, has nine career road-course victories, including four at The Glen . Sunday's race will mark career start No. 800 for the 45-year-old. MORE: Gordon through the years Earnhardt's continued absence from the car was announced Aug. 2. Team owner Rick Hendrick said missing the Watkins Glen race, followed by an off-week for the series "will certainly be a benefit." "Dale will be back when he's ready, and we're looking forward to that happening, but the priority continues to be his health and well-being," he said. "We'll keep our focus on that and let the doctors guide us." Earnhardt has fallen from 13th to 20th in the series points standings. He has yet to win this year, meaning if he returns before the start of this season's Chase for the Sprint Cup , he would need either a victory or the points necessary to earn a berth in the 10-race playoff. &lt;/p&gt;
Heads up: Watkins Glen weekend
Here are the hot topics, trending news and key story lines to get you ready for the weekend's race at Watkins Glen International . WEATHER Mostly sunny and in the 80s this weekend, according to the National Weather Service. A far cry -- and more pleasant outlook -- from the fog and rain at Pocono last weekend. KEY TIMES Sprint Cup Series: Sprint Cup qualifying is on Saturday this weekend, at 12:15 p.m. ET (CNBC). The race starts at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday. Remember, TV coverage for Sunday's race is on USA. XFINITY Series: Qualifying is on Friday at 4:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN, a change from the usual Saturday qualifying. The race is at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, televised on CNBC. CATCH DRIVERS LIVE We stream every driver press conference in the media center at NASCAR.com/presspass . Some of the notables this weekend: Dale Earnhardt Jr . at noon ET on Friday; Chase Elliott at 11:15 a.m. ET on Friday; Carl Edwards at 2:05 p.m. ET on Friday. LAST TIME Kevin Harvick gambled on fuel, and couldn't quite make it to the end. His No. 4 Chevrolet's fuel tank going dry in Turn 6 on the final lap allowed Joey Logano to catch up and make the race-winning pass in the final two corners of the road course -- although Harvick did everything he could to throw a block. It was Logano's first win at Watkins Glen . YOU SHOULD KNOW ... • Keep an eye on AJ Allmendinger . The road-course ace needs a win to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , and this is his best chance. He won here in 2014 for his only Sprint Cup victory. • Sunday will be historic. Jeff Gordon , subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr ., will make his 800th career Sprint Cup Series start, and Matt Kenseth will make his 600th career Sprint Cup start. Additionally, Michael McDowell will make his 200th career Sprint Cup start. • Dale Earnhardt Jr . will be at Watkins Glen for at least Friday, when he'll meet the media. He's recovering from concussion-like symptoms and will miss his fourth consecutive race.
Brad Keselowski wrecks during Watkins Glen test
Photo credit: @keselowski WATKINS GLEN , N.Y. -- Brad Keselowski escaped uninjured -- "still upright," in his words -- after a scary crash Tuesday during an organizational test for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams at Watkins Glen International . Keselowski had just turned a session-topping 124.572 mph on his 18th lap of the day, best of the 14 drivers participating on the freshly repaved 2.45-mile road course. But just after registering that speed, the rear brakes on his Team Penske No. 2 Ford failed, sending Keselowski's car nose-first into the tire-pack barrier in Turn 1 at the end of the long frontstretch. "Just the pedal went to the floor," Keselowski said. "It means that you've lost brakes on one of the corners. At a track like this, you're already on the edge. You don't have any room or margin for something to fail. That's the way it is." The wreck occurred midway through Tuesday's afternoon session on the first day of a two-day organizational test before the series' Aug. 7 Cheez-It 355 at the Glen . Keselowski was evaluated and released from the infield care center, no worse for wear, but crew chief Paul Wolfe still lamented the circumstances. "Frustrating. You hate to put Brad in that situation," Wolfe said. "Lost rear brakes there. The fronts locked up; once you lose rear brakes like that, there's nothing you can do. Just pumping the pedal and it's not going to come back. It's unacceptable. Just got to see how we can prevent it from happening again." Keselowski tweeted video of the heavy crash and a photo of his bent steering wheel on social media to illustrate the wreck's severity. I'm ok! pic.twitter.com/Cu9yPYQnFG — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) July 26, 2016 This ain't no country club All you can do is Bend don't break... @MPI_INNOVATIONS pic.twitter.com/OYC1Gq1qee — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) July 26, 2016 Team Penske unloaded a reserve No. 2 Ford -- a car that's been a backup at several events this season -- which it planned to put on the track Wednesday. "We'll get it ready and we'll see how Brad feels," Wolfe said. "He obviously wants to get back out there, but it's not the end of the world. Fortunately we had a good test going. We were really fast, so I'm not concerned if we don't get out again. We'll get this prepared and sleep on this tonight and evaluate in the morning." Said Keselowski: "That was a test car. This is a race car. You hate to run your race cars, but we came all the way out here and not very often you get to test here, so you don't want to waste it. We'll make it work." The situation was reminiscent of a 2011 incident in which Keselowski lost his brakes during a test at Road Atlanta and broke his left ankle in the ensuing impact. He was not injured in the Watkins Glen wreck. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;