Friday, August 18, 2023

PREVIEW: Watkins Glen again the site of Cup invaders versus "road ringers"

Jeb Burton's #27 for Saturday with support from Craig Partee
IMAGE: Craig and Jennifer Partee / Jordan Anderson Racing

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Saturday, August 19, 2023 (3:30 P.M. ET, USA)
XFINITY Race 23 of 33
Sunoco Go Rewards 200 at The Glen at Watkins Glen
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Justin Allgaier

There are 40 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning two will fail to qualify.

DRIVER CHANGE: #10-Kaulig Racing
While the preliminary entry list showed A.J. Allmendinger would be running Saturday’s XFINITY race once more after his 3rd-place showing in Indianapolis, it will instead be Kyle Busch leading a contingent of no fewer than four Cup Series regulars. Sponsored by LA Golf, this would be Busch’s third XFINITY race of the year and first since Phoenix in the spring, when he finished 9th.

RETURNING: #17-Hendrick Motorsports
Second among the Cup regulars is Alex Bowman, his 55th career XFINITY start and first of the season. His last XFINITY race came just over a year ago in the 2022 race on the Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit, where he finished runner-up to Allmendinger with this same Hendrick team. This would be the fourth XFINITY start of the year for Hendrick’s #17 team, which last ran at Pocono where Chase Elliott finished 3rd.

TEAM UPDATE: #27-Jordan Anderson Racing
For a third-straight season, Craig Partee will be sponsoring a NASCAR XFINITY Series team at Watkins Glen. The owner of Fleur-de-lis Motorsports from 2010-2011, Partee will this time team with Jordan Anderson Racing and driver Jeb Burton as sponsor of the #27 Chevrolet. With additional sponsorship from A+ Plumbing & Heating, this car has been dubbed the “2nd Chances” entry, so named in honor of first responders. In this respect, both Partee and Anderson have had direct experience. First responders from Mercy Flight Central rescued Partee who was trapped in a collapsed barn in 2020, and Anderson was airlifted after the serious burns he suffered in his crash at Talladega last fall. As Anderson prepares to compete in next week’s XFINITY race at Daytona with Larry McReynolds as crew chief, Burton’s car on Saturday will carry both the helicopter tail number of the crew that rescued Partee – N911SM – and honor the lives of two members of the crew that airlifted Anderson who died in a helicopter crash this past April. 

MISSING: #34-Jesse Iwuji Motorsports
Andre Castro is not entered after he successfully qualified in back-to-back starts with Jesse Iwuji Motorsports. Unfortunately, it was a broken track bar that ended his race last Saturday, leaving him 36th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #35-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #08-SS-Green Light Racing
After his series return in Road America, Stanton Barrett will again pilot the #35 this week, taking the place of Alex Labbe, who enjoyed a strong 11th-place showing with the team in Indianapolis. Labbe will also run this week, this time rejoining SS-Green Light Racing in the #08 for the first time since his crash at Road America. Labbe takes the place of Camden Murphy, who failed to qualify last week.

MISSING: #36-DGM Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #07-SS-Green Light Racing
Team owner Mario Gosselin has not entered the #36 this week. Josh Bilicki, who steered the car to an 18th-place finish in Indianapolis, will instead drive for SS-Green Light Racing in the #07 with Burdick’s All-Season Roofing as sponsor. Bilicki takes the place of Colin Garrett, who failed to qualify at Indianapolis, and Chris Hacker, who was originally listed to take Garrett’s place on this week’s preliminary entry list before he was suspended indefinitely following his arrest Monday for driving his passenger car under the influence of alcohol.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Alpha Prime Racing
Last week at Indianapolis saw only two of the three Alpha Prime entries qualify with Conor Daly missing the cut in the team’s flagship #44 entry. As Daly competes in a Nitrocross event this weekend in Utah, Stefan Parsons rejoins the #07 entry for his 60th XFINITY Series start and his first since Michigan. Parsons made his lone Watkins Glen start with this team last year and finished 12th, tied now for his second-best finish.

MISSING: #50-Pardus Racing, Inc.
Not among the entrants in Watkins Glen is Preston Pardus, whose family-owned team earned a 24th-place finish in Indianapolis.

DRIVVER CHANGE: #53-Emerling-Gase Motorsports
While originally listed as a “TBA,” Brad Perez was set to again pilot Emerling-Gase Motorsports’ #53 Chevrolet, looking to bounce back after a rare brake failure at Indianapolis resulted in his first last-place finish. Perez made his stock car debut at The Glen in 2021, then his XFINITY debut last year, taking 20th. However, by Thursday, those plans changed as Patrick Emerling will take the controls for his first start since Michigan.

MISSING: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Due to a lack of sponsorship for what was otherwise a race-ready car, Carl Long’s team is not among the entrants this week, one week after Will Rodgers failed to make the cut in Indianapolis. The team plans to return in Daytona.

Making their return this week is Mike Harmon’s CHK Racing, which for Watkins Glen will give racing instructor Casey Carden the opportunity to make his NASCAR debut. In partnership with Reel Racing, Carden looks to give the CHK effort their fifth start of the year and first since Michigan. But that's not all - will be riding along with logos just in front of both rear tires! Thank you to Harmon and CHK Racing team for having me on board.

MISSING: #88-JR Motorsports
Miguel Paludo and the part-time JRM entry are not among this week’s entries after Paludo’s 22nd-place finish at Indianapolis.

Welcome back FRS Racing, who we have not seen since the spring race at Martinsville, where after a DNQ in Richmond, Kyle Weatherman finished 34th in the team’s debut. With Weatherman still running for JD Motorsports this week, the wheel goes to Max McLaughlin, who seeks his XFINITY Series debut. McLaughlin’s only start in NASCAR’s top three national series came in the 2018 Truck Series race at Eldora, where he finished on the lead lap in 12th for Niece Motorsports. He’s more recently competed part-time in the Whelen Modified Tour, taking 3rd earlier this year for Mike Curb at Richmond.

CUP INVADERS: #10-Kyle Busch, #17-Alex Bowman, #19-Ty Gibbs, #91-Ross Chastain

Sunday, August 20, 2023 (3:00 P.M. ET, USA)
CUP Race 25 of 36
Go Bowling at The Glen at Watkins Glen
2022 Last-Place Finisher: Kyle Tilley

There are 36 drivers entered for 40 spots, marking the 24th straight Cup race with fewer than 40 starters.

DRIVER SWAP: #15-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Cole Custer rejoins the Rick Ware team in the #51 that finished 30th in Indianapolis with Andy Lally, who swaps rides to RWR’s #15 in place of 28th-place Jenson Button.

MISSING: #33-Richard Childress Racing
MISSING: #67-23XI Racing
MISSING: #91-Trackhouse Racing / Project 91
None of the “open” teams entered for road course specialists are entered this week in Watkins Glen, leaving out 22nd-place Indianapolis finisher Brodie Kostecki, 33rd-place Kamui Kobayashi, and 10th-place Shane Van Gisbergen. Remaining in the Legacy Motor Club #42 is 24th-place Mike Rockenfeller, who joins Andy Lally among this week’s “road ringers.”

Sunday, August 27, 2023
TRUCKS Race 18 of 23
Round of 10: Race 2 of 3
Clean Harbors 175 at Milwaukee
2009 Last-Place Finisher: Nick Tucker

The Truck Series takes the week off and returns to close out the Daytona weekend with a stand-alone return to the Milwaukee Mile.

TODAY IN LASTCAR HISTORY (August 18, 2007): Kertus Davis picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in the Carfax 250 at Michigan when his #01 JD Motorsports Chevrolet had electrical issues after 6 laps. This was Davis’ first start of the year for JD Motorsports since 2006, having run five races for Kevin Harvick, Inc. earlier in the ‘07 season.

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