The first of four upcoming road course events for the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Saturday’s Zippo 200 at The Glen (3 p.m. ET on NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is always a must-see event pitting series championship contenders against Cup regulars and quite often against road course ringers just competing for the chance to win at the historic track.
Team Penske’s Joey Logano has won three of the last four races, but won’t be competing this weekend. Instead his Monster Energy Series teammate Ryan Blaney – who won last year’s inaugural ROVAL Cup Series race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway infield road course – will drive the No. 12 Team Penske Ford. Kyle Busch, who won this race in 2017, is entered for Joe Gibbs Racing, as is Cup rookie Ryan Preece, who will drive for JR Motorsports.
The current three top Xfinity series championship contenders certainly would like to stop the run of Cup winners, however experience at the track is not in their favor. Points leader Tyler Reddick has only one start at Watkins Glen – an 11th place finish last year. Both Christopher Bell and Cole Custer – in second and third place in the championship standings – are averaging a 9.0 average finish at Watkins Glen also in limited starts.
Reddick has never finished in the top five on any NASCAR road course race. Last year, Bell was fifth at the Charlotte ROVAL and Custer was fourth at Road America. Custer’s best road course finish was a very dramatic runner-up showing to John Hunter Nemechek at the 2016 Bowmanville, Ontario NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race.
Justin Allgaier, who is ranked fourth in the championship standings, is still looking for his first win of the season after a career-best five wins in 2018. And the driver of the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet is a favorite on any road course. He has finished top-10 in the last five races at The Glen. Allgaier won two of the four road course races last year – at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Road America.
Austin Cindric, who is ranked fifth in the championship, is another driver bringing well-earned road course skills to the series. The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford won the pole position at both Mid-Ohio and the Charlotte ROVAL races last year and finished runner-up at Mid-Ohio and third at the ROVAL.