The NASCAR XFINITY Series will take to the Watkins Glen road course this weekend as it will be the first road event of the year for them. The Zippo 200 (3 p.m. ET/NBC/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will mark seven races left in the 2018 regular season, which makes this race an interesting one.
Here are the top five storylines.
August Is Road Course Month
This is the month that will shape the 12 driver playoff field. As it stands, 11 drivers are feeling really good about their prospects. Ryan Reed is 90 points to the good in 11th right now while Austin Cindric is one spot ahead (+118). Ross Chastain is currently +40 but he has good reason to be nervous about this upcoming stretch.
Last year, Jeremy Clements stole a win and playoff spot in Road America. Right now, Clements is 107 points out. What happens if he, Michael Annett (-40) or Ryan Sieg (-66) win over the next four weeks?
See, three of the four races this month are all on road courses. It starts this weekend at Watkins Glen, then next week at Mid-Ohio (8/11) then at the end of the month at Road America (8/25). The only race this month not on a road course is at Bristol (8/17).
All four races could produce an unlikely winner.
With the last point factored in, the road courses will certainly make or break the playoffs this year. Out of the seven races left, three of which are on twistys. You have another in a short track, then Darlington, Indy and Vegas to close out the regular season.
That’s why getting your road course cars set up right will likely determine who’s going to have a shot at the playoffs in terms of the final few wildcard spots or not.
4 Straight For Bell?
Christopher Bell came from the back to the front three weeks ago in Kentucky to beat Kyle Busch and the field. A week later, he passed Brad Keselowski late to win at New Hampshire. Last Saturday, he made a late race pass on Justin Allgaier to become the first XFINITY Series regular since Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 1999 to win three straight races. Now, can he make it four-in-a-row on Saturday?
Will Cup Drivers Dominate The Race?
Yes, this race and this month in general have big playoff implications. Yes, Bell has won three straight races. But, this weekend’s race could be very Cup driver dominated. Austin Dillon, AJ Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano will try to be victorious in Saturday afternoon’s race. Since the series started coming back to the Glen in 2005, the only XFINITY Series regular to win on the upstate New York road course was Marcos Ambrose in 2008. Other than that, this has been a very Cup dominated event.
This is one of the race weekends where the XFINITY Series race is as long as the Cup race the next day. Saturday’s race is 82 Laps, 200.9-miles. The Cup race on Sunday is only nine laps longer which equates out to a little less than 20 extra miles. So, this is one of the rare weeks where the XFINITY Series race will be just as long and grueling as a Cup race.