Wednesday, August 3, 2016

NASCAR Sprint Cup Notes for Watkins Glen: 2016 Cheez-It 355

Joey Logano is defending champion at Watkins Glen.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Next Race: Cheez-It 355 at The Glen
The Place: Watkins Glen International
The Date: Sunday, Aug. 7
The Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
TV: USA, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 220.5 miles (90 laps)

Next Race: Zippo 200
The Place: Watkins Glen International
The Date: Saturday, Aug. 6
The Time: 2 p.m. ET
TV: CNBC, 1:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 200.9 miles (82 laps)

NASCAR Programming
Darrell Wallace Jr. on MTV’s “Ridiculousness” – Aug. 12 at 10 p.m. ET


Buescher Wins First Race, Snaps Front Row Motorsports’ 118-Race Winless Drought

Chris Buescher scored a surprise win at Pocono – his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory – after the race was called for fog. The last time a first-time winner visited Victory Lane was in 2014 when AJ Allmendinger triumphed at Watkins Glen International – the site of Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen (2:30 p.m. ET on USA).

Although he won, Buescher still has some work to do to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Last year’s NASCAR XFINITY Series champion sits 31st in the points standings, six points behind David Ragan for 30th. Coincidentally, Ragan was the last driver to win for Buescher’s Front Row Motorsports team – 118 races ago at Talladega. Also, Ragan helped Buescher get his career off the ground by setting him up with living arrangements, signing him to his Legends car team as a development driver and connecting him with Roush Fenway Racing.

Buescher, 23, is the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie to win a race since Joey Logano visited Victory Lane at New Hampshire in 2009.

If Buescher reaches the top 30 in points after Richmond, he will become the first Sunoco Rookie since Denny Hamlin in 2006 to make the Chase. He has a good chance at making up some of that ground this weekend. His first NASCAR national series victory came at a road course – the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Mid-Ohio in 2014.

Last weekend Sunoco Rookies won all three NASCAR national series races for the first time in history – Buescher (NASCAR Sprint Cup Series), 23, Erik Jones (NASCAR XFINITY Series), 20, and William Byron (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series), 18. Their average age is 20.33.

Mr. Versatility: Logano Readies To Display Road-Course Prowess Once Again

Joey Logano showed he can race on any type of track last year when he swept the Watkins Glen International NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and XFINITY Series contests. In addition to his Sprint Cup Series road-course win last year, he also visited Victory Lane at a short track (Bristol), two restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega) and two 1.5-mile ovals.

He returns to Watkins Glen – which features a new racing surface this season – with his sights set on two more victories.

Logano has finished seventh or better in four of his last five starts at Watkins Glen: fifth in 2011, 32nd in 2012, seventh in 2013, sixth in 2014 and first in 2015.

In his last two starts at NASCAR’s other road course – Sonoma Raceway – Logano has finished fifth (2015) and third (2016).

The Middletown, Connecticut native has exhibited good form lately with seven top 10s in his last nine starts, including five top fives. On the season, Logano has one win, eight top-five and 13 top-10 finishes in 21 starts.

Chase Crasher: Allmendinger All-In At The Glen

AJ Allmendinger knows he has to follow Rule number 76 this weekend – “No excuses. Play like a champion.”

Allmendinger crashed the Chase with a win at Watkins Glen International in 2014 and will try to do it again in 2016 with a visit to Victory Lane in Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen. The road-course ace realizes he won’t have a better opportunity to take a checkered flag the rest of the season.

In seven career starts at Watkins Glen International, Allmendinger owns one win, two top fives, four top 10s and an average finish of 10.1.

Beast At The Glen: Track Record-Holder Stewart Goes For Sixth Win At Watkins Glen International

Tony Stewart owns the track wins record at Watkins Glen International with five victories. He hasn’t crossed the finish line first there since 2009, but will attempt to add his sixth track win in Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen.

In addition to his five wins, Stewart boasts seven top-two, and 10 top-10 finishes at the Central New York road course. From 2002-09, he finished worse than second at Watkins Glen International only once (11th in 2003).

The rejuvenated Stewart has more top fives and one less top 10 through 13 starts this year than in his last two seasons combined. He has four top-five finishes in his last six races.

Gordon Prepares For 800th Start, Fifth Win At The Glen

Jeff Gordon will make his 800th career start – and his third consecutive race in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr. – in Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen.

Gordon will be the ninth driver to make his 800th start, joining: Richard Petty (1,185), Ricky Rudd (906), Terry Labonte (890), Dave Marcis (883), Mark Martin (882), Kyle Petty (829), Bill Elliott (828) and Darrell Waltrip (809).

A win on Sunday would tie Gordon with Tony Stewart for the Watkins Glen track record for victories with five. In 23 starts at the Central New York road course, he claims four wins, six top fives and nine top 10s. The Hendrick Motorsports driver is NASCAR’s all-time leader in road-course wins with nine.

Following Watkins Glen, Gordon will make at least one more start for Earnhardt, at Bristol. Gordon has placed 13th at Indianapolis and 27th at Pocono as a sub for Earnhardt the last two races.

Kenseth Set To Make 600th Start
Matt Kenseth will make his 600th career start in Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen.

For his career, Kenseth boasts 38 wins (tied for 19th in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history), 167 top fives, 299 top 10s, 17 poles and 10,851 laps led.

At Watkins Glen, Kenseth has one top five and six top 10s in 16 starts. He did finish fourth at Watkins Glen last year and ninth in 2014, but has only led three laps there.

This season, Kenseth is one of five drivers with multiple wins (Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson). He has two wins, four top fives, nine top 10s and a 14.1 average finish.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Etc.

Five More Clinch Chase Spot

Though their spots were all but assured as is because of a race win, five drivers clinched spots in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at Pocono. They are Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin.

Boardwalk Empire’s Jack Huston To Serve As Official Pace Car Driver

Jack Huston, star of the upcoming action adventure “Ben-Hur” from Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures will drive the 2016 Toyota Camry Pace Car to kick off Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen. Mark Burnett and Roma Downey – who are working with NASCAR on a scripted television series – are executive producers of “Ben-Hur”. Huston previously starred for four seasons on Boardwalk Empire and played mobster Pete Musane in “American Hustle.”


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