NASCAR ready for the road course
WATKINS GLEN-The annual NASCAR stop at Watkins Glen International is significant for many reasons. The influx of visitors to the region, national coverage of the event and the impact of winning the race for NASCAR competitors will make for an exciting weekend of events.
While the track opens early for campers, on-track events begin Friday, Aug. 4 and continue to Sunday, Aug. 6. There are three races during the weekend. Friday begins with the Finger Lakes Wine Country 100 featuring the K&N Pro Series. The green flag drops at 4:45 p.m.Saturday will host the Zippo 200 with the NASCAR XFINITY Series at 2 p.m. Sunday's main event, the I LOVE NEW YORK 355 at The Glen, gets underway at 3 p.m. and includes the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers.
New this year, NASCAR has added stages to the races. The lead-up to the season champion being crowned was referred to as "The Chase" but is now called the playoffs. Races now consist of three stages, with championship implications in each stage. The top-10 finishers of the first two stages will be awarded additional championship points, with the race winner being the recipient of additional championship and playoff points at the conclusion of the final stage.
In Sunday's Cup series race, the first two stages will be made up of 20 laps each, ending with caution periods on laps 20 and 40, respectively. Then, a 50-lap third segment will conclude the event.
The XFINITY series is similar, with the first two stages being made up of 20 laps each, ending with caution periods on laps 20 and 40. Then, a 42-lap third segment will take the field to the checkered flag.
Currently leading the Cup series in points are Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski. Busch is coming off a win at Pocono, Sunday, July 30, and has won the main event at Watkins Glen twice (2008 and 2013).
"It's pretty cool, finally being able to get the monkey off our back, get to Victory Lane this year," said Busch after winning at Pocono. "It's been a long time coming. It's well documented, it's been over a year, but it's finally very rewarding to achieve victory..."
Denny Hamlin won last year at Watkins Glen, and Joey Logano the year before.
This will also be the final year to see fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr., at The Glen. Earnhardt announced earlier this year that 2017 would be his last as a NASCAR driver. He is looking for a win to keep playoff hopes alive.
Saturday and Sunday's races will be televised on the NBC Sports Network.
Last week, WGI was crowned a repeat winner in the USA Today 10Best Readers' Choice 'Best NASCAR Track' poll. The honor was also won by the track in 2015.
Tickets are available at www.theglen.com. Weekend general admission is $125 and Sunday only is $115. There are also select camping locations available.