Fuel & Tires: NASCAR turns right at Watkins Glen


Mel Evans

There is limited racing action this weekend, but some is always better than none! Let's see what's on the agenda.


A rain-delayed Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway resulted in a bizarre Monday of racing in which rookie Chris Buescher took his first career win. Buescher was leading when the red flag came out due to thick fog with 22 laps to go. With the win, Buescher must now work his way into the top 30 in points before the Chase for the Sprint Cup cutoff following the race at Richmond on Sept. 10. Buescher is currently 31st in points, six points behind David Ragan.

—Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss at least the next two races while he recovers from concussion-like symptoms. Jeff Gordon will continue to fill in for Earnhardt at Watkins Glen and Bristol. So far, Gordon has finished 13th (Indianapolis) and 27th (Pocono) while filling in, but he has four career wins at Watkins Glen and five at Bristol. Don't be surprised if Gordon pulls off a win in the No. 88. Speaking of Gordon, this Sunday will mark his 800th Sprint Cup start.

—Drivers currently winless who are Chase-eligible based on points include Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman, Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson. With five races to go before the Chase cut-off, you can imagine these five drivers are going to be looking to get locked in with a win.

—The Xfinity Series will hold the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen with coverage starting at 1 p.m. Saturday on CNBC. A series regular has not won this race since Earnhardt Jr. won in 1999. Sprint Cup regulars in this year's field include Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Paul Menard, Kyle Larson and Trevor Bayne. My money is on Busch, who has won seven Xfinity races in eleven starts this season.

—Coverage of Sprint Cup's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen starts at 1:30 p.m. Sunday on USA Network.


Simon Pagenaud increased his points lead in the Verizon IndyCar Series on Sunday by winning at Mid-Ohio, but teammate Will Power finished second. Power is second in the championship, 58 points behind Pagenaud. For a while, it looked like Conor Daly could steal the victory, but a late pit stop relegated Daly to a sixth-place finish. The series returns to action at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 21.

—The Team Penske duo of Pagenaud and Power own seven victories out of twelve races so far this season. Still, with four races to go and double points awarded in the season finale, nobody is a lock for the title.

—Last year's Mid-Ohio winner Graham Rahal came home fourth while Carlos Munoz came home as the top finishing Honda driver in third.

—The series plans to have an announcement in the coming weeks for next year's schedule as well as a tentative 2018 plan. It looks as though a race at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois will be held next August, according to racer.com. The 1.25-mile oval  hosted IndyCar in one form or another from 1997-2003. Possibilities for 2018 include Australia, Portland and Calgary.


Formula One has begun its annual summer break and won't return to action until Aug. 28 for the Belgian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton took the victory last weekend in Germany for his fourth win in a row and sixth of the season. He now leads Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by 19 points.

—Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo matched his best result of the season in Germany with a second-place finish while his teammate Max Verstappen rounded out the podium.

—Mercedes has dominated the first twelve races of the season, taking eleven wins and sits atop the constructor's championship, 159 points ahead of Red Bull. Mercedes will certainly tie up that championship well before the season end.

—The American-based Haas-Ferrari team hasn't scored points in four races, but is still ahead of Renault, MRT-Mercedes and Sauber-Ferrari (which has yet to score a point this season) in the constructors' standings. That should be considered a huge win for the brand new team.


The WeatherTech SportsCar Championship returns to Road America in Elkhart Lake on Saturday for the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase. The race, which was not held last year, promises to be fantastic event with all four classes participating.

—Coverage of the race starts at 3 p.m. Saturday on Fox Sports 1.


Madison International Speedway is holding Fan Autograph Night with Late Model, Sportsman, Bandit and 6Shooter features starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Rockford Speedway will have a Figure 8 trailer race as well as Late Model, Sportsman, Short Tracker and Roadrunner features starting at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Jefferson Speedway will hold round three of the Tournament of Destruction starting at 7 p.m. Saturday.

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