NASCAR viewer’s guide: Watkins Glen International

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Get your atlas to fully prepare for this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series visit to Watkins Glen International.

For the first time in Cup history, drivers from seven countries are scheduled to compete in a series race. Sunday’s 39-driver entry list shows drivers from the United States, Mexico, Germany, England, the Netherlands, Finland and Russia.

Watkins Glen first hosted the Cup Series in 1957. Sunday’s event will be the 39th Cup race.

Kevin Harvick, winner of last Sunday’s race at Richmond Raceway, will be searching for a third consecutive win Sunday.

Sunday’s race (3 p.m. ET, USA Network) is scheduled for 90 laps and 220 miles. Saturday’s schedule includes a 3 p.m. ET (USA Network) Xfinity Series race.

The Iceman (And Others) Cometh

The international representation of drivers scheduled to compete in Sunday’s race is led by former Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen, who will be making his Cup debut in a Chevrolet entered by Trackhouse Racing.

Raikkonen, who competed in Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series races at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2011, will be the first driver to participate in Trackhouse’s Project 91 program, which is designed to give leading racers from other countries a shot in quality equipment in Cup racing.

Raikkonen, known as the Iceman during his F1 career, ran laps over the Virginia International Raceway road course Aug. 11 to familiarize himself with the Cup car. He is a native of Finland who now lives in Switzerland.

Raikkonen, 42, won the F1 title in 2007. He won 21 career F1 races.

Also representing other countries on Sunday’s starting grid will be Daniel Suarez (Mexico), Mike Rockenfeller (Germany), Kyle Tilley (England), Loris Hezemans (the Netherlands) and Daniil Kvyat (Russia).

The numbers recorded by drivers in the field are impressive: 341 Cup wins, 407 Xfinity wins, 21 Formula 1 wins, five IndyCar wins and 29 IMSA wins.

Blaney vs. Truex Continues

The Cup Series regular-season schedule is down to two races — Sunday at Watkins Glen International and the Aug. 27 finale at Daytona International Speedway.

With 15 drivers scoring wins and sitting on the probable playoff grid, the last spot is open for another winner or a qualifier via points. Ryan Blaney, currently in the 16th spot, and Martin Truex Jr., 26 points behind Blaney, are battling for the final playoff position if it is decided by points.

MORE: NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

Road course races have been wildly unpredictable this season, and there is no reason to believe Sunday’s run on the very fast Watkins Glen course will differ.

How do Blaney and Truex stack up for the Glen? Blaney’s best career finish there is a fifth in 2019. He has two finishes of eighth or better in five career starts. Truex won at the Glen in 2017 and has four consecutive top-three finishes there.

A bad sign for Truex: Toyota has no road course wins this year, and its drivers have an average finish of 21.8 on the road.

Truex, however, has an average finish of 10.1 at Watkins Glen, third among active drivers (behind Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch). Blaney is fifth on that list at 11.6.

Buescher 16th Winner?

Chris Buescher has been making noise lately, and, with Watkins Glen on tap Sunday he could be noisier.

Buescher threatened to challenge Kevin Harvick for the win last Sunday at Richmond Raceway before falling to third at the finish. Three weeks ago, he was 10th at Indianapolis.

Buescher, winless this year, could be considered a victory threat at the Glen based on his road course resume. A win would make him the season’s 16th different winner.

The RFK Racing driver has four top-10 finishes in the past five road course events, and his top finish of the year — a second — came at Sonoma. His average finish of 9.75 on road courses this season is fourth on the list.

Buescher’s history at the Glen, however, is not great. His best finish is an 11th, in 2017.

Entry lists

There are 39 entries for 40 available spots in Sunday’s Cup Series race at the Glen.

In addition to international visitors Kimi Raikkonen and Mike Rockenfeller, the list includes Joey Hand and AJ Allmendinger.

Watkins Glen Cup entry list

Forty-two drivers are entered in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race. The list includes four Cup regulars — William Byron, Cole Custer, Kyle Larson and Ross Chastain.

Also entered are Austin Wayne Self, Stanton Barrett, Blaine Perkins, Timmy Hill and Spencer Pumpelly.

Watkins Glen Xfinity entry list

This weekend’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Saturday, Aug. 20

Forecast: Partly cloudy. High of 89.

  • 10:05 – 10:35 a.m. — Xfinity Series practice (NBC Sports App)
  • 10:35 – 11:30 a.m. — Xfinity Series qualifying (NBC Sports App)
  • 12:05 – 1:05 p.m. — Cup Series practice (NBC Sports App)
  • 1:05 – 2 p.m. — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports App, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 3 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (82 laps, 200 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Aug. 21

Forecast: Mostly cloudy. Stray shower or thunderstorm possible. High of 87.

  • 3 p.m. — Cup Series race (90 laps, 220 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chase Briscoe, AJ Allmendinger in first on-track conflict of the season.

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LOS ANGELES — The first on-track conflict of the 2023 NASCAR Cup season?

Did you have Chase Briscoe and AJ Allmendinger?

They made contact during Saturday night’s practice session at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the Busch Light Clash.

Busch Clash practice results

Briscoe explained what happened from his point of view.

“(Allmendinger) was slowing down so much on the straightaway to get a gap (away from other cars),” Briscoe told Motor Racing Network. “I felt like I was beside him pretty far down the straightaway. I got in there a little hot for sure, but, honestly, I thought he was going to give it to me since we were in practice. Went into (Turn) 3 and he just drove me straight into the fence. Definitely frustrating. … Just unfortunate. We don’t have a single back-up car out there between the four of us at SHR. 

“Definitely will set us behind quite a bit. Just chalk it up in the memory blank.”

Asked what happened with Briscoe, Allmendinger told MRN: “He ran inside of me, so I made sure I paid him back and sent him into the fence.

“It’s practice. I get it, I’m struggling and in the way, but come barreling in there. I just showed my displeasure for it. That’s not the issue. We’re just not very good right now.”

Earlier in practice, Ty Gibbs had to climb out of his car after it caught on fire. Gibbs exiting the car safely. The Joe Gibbs Racing team worked on making repairs to his No. 54 car. NASCAR stated that the car would not be allowed to qualify because of unapproved adjustments, modifications not directly related to the damage.

NASCAR will not race at Auto Club Speedway in 2024

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LOS ANGELES — Auto Club Speedway will not host a NASCAR race next year because of plans to convert the 2-mile speedway into a short track.

It will mark only the second time the Cup Series has not raced at the Southern California track since first competing there in 1997. Cup did not race at the track in 2021 because of the pandemic.

Dave Allen, Auto Club Speedway president, also said Saturday that “it’s possible” that the track might not host a NASCAR race in 2025 because of how long it could take to make the conversion. 

MORE: Details for Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum 

NASCAR came to the Fontana, California, track during the sport’s expansion in the late 1990s that also saw Cup debut at Texas (1997), Las Vegas (1998) and Homestead (1999).

Auto Club Speedway begins the West Coast swing this season, hosting the Cup Series on Feb. 26, a week after the Daytona 500. The series then goes to Las Vegas and Phoenix the following two weeks.

Auto Club Speedway has been among a favorite of drivers because of its aging pavement that put more of the car’s control in the hands of competitors. 

Allen said that officials continue to work on the track’s design. It is expected to be a half-mile track. With NASCAR already having a half-mile high-banked track (Bristol) and half-mile low-banked track (Martinsville), Allen said that a goal is to make Auto Club Speedway stand out.

“It has to make a statement, and making sure that we have a racetrack that is unique to itself here and different than any of the tracks they go to is very important,” Allen said. “Having said that, it’s equally important … to make sure that the fan experience part is unique.”

Kyle Larson, who won last year’s Cup race at Auto Club Speedway, said that he talked to Allen on Saturday was told the track project likely will take about 18 months. 

“I don’t know exactly the extent of what they’re doing with the track, how big it’s going to be, the shape or banking and all that, and I love the 2-mile track, but I think the more short tracks we can have, the better off our sport is going to be,” Larson said.

With Auto Club Speedway off the schedule in 2024, it would mean the only time Cup raced in the Los Angeles area would be at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. NASCAR has a three-year contract with the Coliseum to race there and holds the option to return.

Sunday’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum marks the second year of that agreement. Last year’s inaugural event at the Coliseum drew about 50,000 fans. NASCAR has not publicly stated if it will return to the Coliseum next year.

Sunday Clash at the Coliseum: Start time, TV info, race format

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LOS ANGELES – NASCAR is back and back at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Nearly three months after Joey Logano won the Cup title at Phoenix, Cup drivers return to action this weekend to run the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum exhibition race on Sunday night.

This marks the second consecutive year the series has raced inside the Coliseum, which has hosted the Super Bowl, World Series and Olympics.

Details for Sunday’s Busch Light Clash at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum 

(All times Eastern)

HEAT RACES: There will be four 25-lap heat races. Caution laps do not count. The top five from each race advance to the Busch Light Clash. The first heat race is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

LAST CHANCE QUALIFIERS: There will be two 50-lap qualifiers for drivers who did not advance to the Clash through their heat races. Caution laps do not count. The top three finishers in each of the qualifiers advance to the Clash. The 27-car Clash lineup will be finalized by adding one provisional spot for the driver highest in points last season not yet in the Clash field. The first of these two last chance qualifying races is scheduled to begin at 6:10 p.m.

CLASH STARTING LINEUP: To be set by heat races and the Last Chance Qualifiers. Winner of heat 1 will start on the pole for the Clash. Winner of heat 2 will start second. Winner of heat 3 will start third. Winner of heat 4 will start 4th. Runner-up in heat 1 will start fifth and so on.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 11 a.m. … Driver intros are at 7:50 p.m. … Invocation by Judah Smith, lead pastor of Churchome, at 8:07 p.m. … The USC Trojan Marching Band will perform the national anthem at 8:08 p.m. … Actor Rob Lowe will give the command to fire engines at 8:15 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to be waved by USC quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams at 8:20 p.m.

DISTANCE: The Clash is 150 laps (37.5 miles) on the 1/4-mile short track.

STAGES: There will be a stage break at Lap 75 (halfway in the Clash). Wiz Khalifa will perform during the break.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the event, beginning at 4 p.m. . … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Partly cloudy with a high of 63 degrees and a 1% chance of rain for the start of the heat races. Partly cloudy with a high of 61 degrees and a 1% chance of rain for the Clash..

LAST TIME: Joey Logano held off Kyle Busch to win the inaugural Clash at the Coliseum. Austin Dillon placed third. .

Catch up on NBC Sports coverage

New NASCAR season features several changes

Clash at the Coliseum provides a reset for RFK Racing 

Harrison Burton looks for progress in second year in Cup

Dr. Diandra: Muffling racecars won’t change fan experience

Drivers to watch at Clash in Coliseum

NASCAR announces rule changes for 2023

NASCAR outlaws Ross Chastain Martinsville move

NASCAR eliminates stage breaks for Cup road course events 

Looking back on 10 historic moments in the Clash

 

NASCAR Saturday schedule at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

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NASCAR drivers are scheduled to hit the track today in competitive mode for the first time in 2023.

Practice is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. on the oval inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Single-car qualifying for Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum is scheduled to begin at 8:35 p.m. (ET). The 36 drivers will be divided into three 12-driver groups for practice.

Cup practice groups

Cup qualfying order

Saturday’s qualifying will set the starting lineups for Sunday’s four 25-lap heat races. The top five finishers in each heat race will advance to the main event. Two 50-lap “last chance” races will follow, and the top three finishers in each of those events will join the feature field.

The 150-lap main event is scheduled at 8 p.m. (ET) Sunday.

For the second consecutive year, the Clash is being held on a purpose-built track inside the LA Coliseum, one of sport’s iconic venues. Joey Logano won last year’s race and last year’s series championship and will be among the favorites Sunday.

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Weather

Saturday: Intervals of clouds and sun. High 71.

Saturday, Feb. 4

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 2 – 11:30 p.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 6 – 8 p.m. — Cup practice (FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 8:35 – 9:30 p.m. — Cup qualifying (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)