Fuel & Tires: Darlington, Watkins Glen and Monza fill out racing weekend

 

Terry Renna

For race fans, Labor Day weekend also means a weekend full of racing, with something for everyone. Here’s what’s on tap:

DRIVIN’ IN TO DARLINGTON COUNTY

The NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series hit Darlington Raceway while the Camping World Truck Series visits Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

—The trucks return to Canada for the fourth time to race the 2.5-mile road course in Ontario. The only sure thing is that there will be no repeat winner since the previous three winners (Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones) are not in the field. Coverage of the Chevrolet Silverado 250 starts at 1:30 p.m. Saturday on Fox Sports 2.

—The Xfinity Series race at Darlington will feature five Sprint Cup drivers in the field, including Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson and defending winner Denny Hamlin. Coverage of the VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 starts at 2 p.m. Saturday on NBC.

—It’s going to be another throwback race as the Sprint Cup Series celebrates the sights and sounds of the 1975-1984 era with many drivers sporting throwback schemes on their cars. The broadcast will also feature former broadcasters Ken Squier and Ned Jarrett in the both for a portion of the race.

—Jeff Gordon returns to the No. 88 Chevrolet, subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has not yet announced a return date. Gordon has won at Darlington six times, most recently in 2007. Other multiple winners in the field include Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson, who have both won there twice. Carl Edwards is the defending race winner. This could be Gordon’s last time in a Sprint Cup car (though we’ve said that before), so look for him to go out with a bang.

—Coverage of the Bojangles’ Southern 500 starts at 5 p.m. Sunday on NBC.

A RETURN TO THE GLEN

The Verizon IndyCar Series will hold its penultimate round at Watkins Glen International in New York. The series last raced here in 2010, with Will Power taking the win.

—Power sits second in points, 28 behind Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud. Other former winners in the field include Ryan Hunter-Reay and three-time winner (and defending series champion) Scott Dixon. Watch for Pagenaud to try and open his gap to Power, but be assured that Power won't go quietly.

—It was announced earlier this week that driver James Hinchcliffe will compete in the upcoming season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” Hinchcliffe will be following in the footsteps of fellow driver Helio Castroneves, who won the competition in 2007.

—Coverage of the IndyCar Grand Prix at The Glen starts at 1 p.m. Sunday on NBC Sports Network.

VIVA L’ITALIA!

Formula One hits the Autodromo Nazionale Monza for the Italian Grand Prix, a race that dates back to 1921, but has been held annually since 1947.

—Points leader Lewis Hamilton has won three times at Monza, including the last two years while Sebastian Vettel also has three wins at the track. Fernando Alonso has won at Monza twice, his last win coming in 2010. My bet is that the race ends with Hamilton opening his points lead over Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.

—Felipe Massa announced this week that he would retire at the end of the season. Massa drove for Ferrari from 2006-2013 and recorded 11 wins for the team. Massa finished second in the championship in 2008, losing to Hamilton by a single point. Massa has spent the last three seasons driving for Williams Martini Racing, with a highest finish of second in 2014.

—Coverage of the Italian Grand Prix starts at 6:30 a.m. Sunday on NBC Sports Network.

LOCAL RACES

Madison International Speedway holds its Championship Night with double features in the NASCAR Late Model, Sportsman and Bandit divisions. Action starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Jefferson Speedway will have a full racing program with gates opening at 3 p.m., time trials at 5 p.m. and racing at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Tournament of Destruction World Championships will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday.

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