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RCR Event Preview – Watkins Glen 355 and Zippo 200

Richard Childress Racing at The Glen … In 65 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Watkins Glen International, RCR boasts two wins (Robby Gordon 2003 and Kevin Harvick 2006), eight top-five and 21 top-10 finishes. Dale Earnhardt won three poles (1990, ’92, ’96) at the high-speed, seven-turn, upstate New York facility.

RCR in the NSCS … In 2,691 Sprint Cup Series starts dating back to 1969, RCR has amassed 46 pole awards,105 wins, 472 top-five finishes and 1,022 top-10 finishes, with an average starting position of 17.8 and an average finishing position of 16.0. RCR has earned 15 total championships (six Sprint Cup Series championships with Earnhardt in 1986, ’87, ’90, ’91, ’93 and ’94, six NASCAR XFINITY Series titles, two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series titles and one ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards title) and was the first organization to win titles in NASCAR’s three national series.

The Collective RCR … RCR’s three full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers rank 11th (Dillon), 12th (Newman) and 23rd (Menard) in the driver championship point standings.

Catch the Action … The Watkins Glen 355 is scheduled to be televised live on USA beginning at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Channel 90.

This Week’s Dow Chevrolet SS at Watkins Glen International … Austin Dillon will pilot chassis No. 469 in the Watkins Glen 355 at Watkins Glen International. This is the same Chevrolet SS that Dillon raced to a 22nd-place finish at Sonoma Raceway in June.

Dillon at Watkins Glen International … In two previous NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Watkins Glen, Dillon’s best finish was 16th in 2014. He has two NASCAR XFINITY Series starts to his credit at the road course, posting a best finish of 12th in 2013. He also finished 12th in a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Division race at Watkins Glen in 2008.

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Testing 1, 2, 3 … The No. 3 team was one of 16 teams who participated in a test at Watkins Glen International July 26 and 27 after the track’s recent repave, a $12 million endeavor and first full repave for the 2.45-mile road course since 1989.

Play Ball … Prior to traveling to New York, Dillon was in Phoenix on Tuesday to throw out the first pitch at the Arizona Diamondbacks game. The Welcome, N.C., driver played in the Little League World Series in 2002 and made an appearance with the Diamondbacks to help promote the Nov. 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. Tickets are available by calling 866-408-7223.

There’s brand new pavement at Watkins Glen. What do you think that will do to the racetrack?
“We will be fighting some of the same things we fought at Kentucky Speedway, which was also recently paved. It’s just about trying to get the rubber laid down at the track. Since a road course is a little bit of a different place, braking will be a factor. It seems to be the same Watkins Glen, just with a lot of grip. There’s a lot of speed out there, and it’s just how bad you want to go get it.”

How difficult is the inner-loop at Watkins Glen?
“The inner loop is very difficult. It’s as fast as you want to go. Now, with all of the grip, you’re really going to be carrying a lot of speed there.”

You’re 11th in points and well into the second half of the year. How do you summarize the year so far from your perspective?
“It’s been a solid season so far. We just have to finish it off. We have five races until the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins and we want to be in that Chase. We want to do whatever it takes to get in.”

This Week’s Richmond / Menards Chevrolet SS at Watkins Glen International … Chassis No. 470 will race this weekend at Watkins Glen International. This Richard Childress Racing-prepared car saw action earlier this year at Sonoma Raceway where Menard started ninth and finished 16th.

Watkins Glen Stats … Menard has 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Watkins Glen International. His best start of seventh came in 2013 and finish of 12th in 2012. The RCR driver has competed in nine NASCAR XFINITY Series races at the 2.45-mile road course with one top-five and six top-10 finishes.

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How much fun is road-course racing?
“I really enjoy road-course racing and wish we had more than two road-course races on our schedule. Watkins Glen is fun because you can pass anywhere. If you can out-brake the car in front of you you’ve got a good opportunity to make some passes. The bus stop is probably the toughest spot on the track to pass someone because if they don’t let you go in single file and you drive through two-wide, you’re going to make contact at some point. Usually, people give and take a little more through the bus stop than they do in other parts of the track. I’m really looking forward to going to Watkins Glen this weekend.”

This Week’s Caterpillar Chevrolet SS at Watkins Glen International … Ryan Newman will pilot car No. 477 in the season’s final road-course event at the 2.45-mile facility. The Watkins Glen 355 marks the second time this year that the No. 31 team will utilize this Chevrolet in competition. At Sonoma Raceway, Newman started 17th and finished eighth.

Newman at The Glen … Newman will make his 534th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start when the Series returns to the raceway this weekend. In 14 Sprint Cup Series events at Watkins Glen International, he recorded one top-five and three top-10 finishes. His average start is 10.7 and average finish is 17.4. He raced in the top spot for 20 circuits. He also has competed five times in the NASCAR XFINITY Series earning one win in 2005.

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What makes Watkins Glen International so unique?
“Watkins Glen is definitely the faster of the two road courses, so the speed there is definitely up compared to what we felt at Sonoma Raceway. The speed is the biggest adjustment we have to make. I think for our trip this time, it’s all about getting adjusted to the new asphalt, the new grip level and the new tire combination.”

What is the one thing you and your team will have to focus on?
“We really don’t know how racy the track is going to be. Usually new asphalt lends itself to a single groove so it’s been awhile since we’ve been to a road course that’s been repaved. The tire and asphalt combination and how well we can race will dictate our strategy, our pit strategy and what we are planning to do when we race the last lap.”

Watkins Glen is the only track on the circuit where the teams pit in the opposite direction. How challenging is that for a driver and why?
“Pit road is definitely a challenge more so because the guys have to pit in the opposite direction. They are going over to the left side of the car first and finishing on the right. The second part of that is the fuel side of it. Everything is kind of opposite. You have to grab the fuel cell a different way. It’s just an added challenge. The good thing is you only have to do it two, maybe three times. The bad thing is those two, maybe three times could be disastrous.”
Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Watkins Glen International … In 28 Series starts at the 2.45-mile road course, RCR has captured one victory with Kevin Harvick in 2007. The Welcome, North Carolina, organization has completed 2,297 laps of the 2,301 (99.8 percent) that they have competed. RCR has accumulated six top-five finishes, 16 top-10 finishes, led 117 laps and averages a starting position of 12.8 and finishing position of 10.9.

Iowa Review … Ty Dillon was the highest RCR finisher in second, Sam Hornish Jr. sixth, Brendan Gaughan 11th and Brandon Jones 16th, respectively, at Iowa Speedway.

The Points … All three RCR XFINITY Series full-time drivers remain in the top 10 of the driver point standings as the series heads to Watkins Glen for the 20th event of the season. Ty Dillon is currently third, Brendan Gaughan is sixth and Brandon Jones is eighth. The No. 2 RCR team is third in the owner point standings. Brandon Jones is currently third in the XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year point standings.

Catch the Action … Coverage of this weekend’s Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International will be televised live on Saturday, Aug. 6, beginning at 2 p.m. ET on CNBC. It will also be broadcast live on Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM channel 90.

This Week’s Richmond / Menards Chevrolet at Watkins Glen International … Paul Menard will pilot chassis No. 133 in the Zippo 200 at The Glen. This Richard Childress Racing-prepared Chevrolet is new to the No. 2 team’s fleet and will see track action on Thursday during practice.

Empire State Stats … In nine previous NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at Watkins Glen, Menard has notched one top-five and six top-10 finishes. The Wisconsin-native holds an average starting position of 10.8, coupled with an average finishing position of 12th.

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No. 2 Team by the Numbers … With 19 XFINITY Series events complete in 2016, the No. 2 team has one victory, 11 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes, with 24 laps led to their credit.

You raced at Sonoma Raceway earlier this year in the Sprint Cup Series event. What’s the difference there versus Watkins Glen International?
“At a place like Watkins Glen there are better passing opportunities than somewhere like Sonoma. I think historically you see more wrecks at Sonoma where at Watkins Glen you can get by a guy if you’re faster than him. It’s a fun road course and it can be really hard to pass. Obviously the harder it is to pass, the more track position means so you try to get all you can on the restarts. It has really high speeds and the setup is a lot different than you would run at Sonoma which all makes for an interesting weekend.”

This Week’s Rheem Chevrolet at Watkins Glen International … Ty Dillon will pilot chassis No. 456 for this weekend’s Zippo 200 at The Glen. This Richard Childress Racing-prepared Chevrolet Camaro will be utilized for road course racing this season. Dillon raced chassis No. 456 last season at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Road America where he finished third and 10th, respectively.

Dillon in the XFINITY Series at WGI … In two NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at The Glen, Dillon has one top-five and two top-10 finishes. Dillon drove the No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro to a fifth-place finish last year.

XFINITY Series Points Update … Dillon remains third in the XFINITY Series driver point standings after 19 races. Dillon, who had an impressive runner-up finish last weekend at Iowa Speedway, has six top-five and 12 top-10 finishes this season. The No. 3 team is in position to qualify for The Chase, which begins on Sept. 24 at Kentucky Speedway.

Do you enjoy road course racing?
“You know, I actually really enjoy road course racing. I don’t have a ton of experience, but I enjoy the challenge and really take pride in finishing well. It’s a unique challenge and I do as much as I can to prepare for the race; extra practice time, pace car rides before practice and I even spent some time earlier this year at Ron Fellows driving school in Spring Mountain, Nevada to fine tune some of my skills. My goal is a top-five finish and to compete for the win.”

This Week’s Roland Chevrolet at Watkins Glen … Brandon Jones will make his second NASCAR XFINITY Series road course start this weekend driving Chassis No. 126 in the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International. This Richard Childress Racing-prepared Chevrolet Camaro is new to Jones, but was raced twice in 2015 at Watkins Glen International and Road America, where it finished sixth and third respectively.

Watkins Glen Stats … While this weekend’s event will mark Jones’ XFINITY Series debut at Watkins Glen International, the rookie contender does have one NASCAR K&N Pro Series East start at the 2.45-mile road course in 2014, finishing sixth.

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Meet the Driver … Jones is scheduled to appear at the Chevrolet Stage for a Q&A session on Friday, Aug. 5, starting at 11:45 a.m. ET.

Watkins Glen International seems to be one of the faster, more aggressive road course tracks. What do you think of Watkins Glen?
“Watkins Glen is a fun track. I was fortunate enough to run there in the NASCAR K&N East Series in 2014. I haven’t been there since, so I am excited to get back this weekend. They just repaved the racing surface, so it is going to be really fast now.”

Does your mindset change when you are going to a road course versus racing on ovals?
“Road course racing is a little out of my comfort zone for sure. There are so many little things you can do to get ready for racing on the road courses. I recently got a shifter kart that we take to the go-kart track, so I’ve been trying to run that as much as I can lately. I’ve also been running a lot of simulators. There is definitely a lot more preparation that goes into something that you only do three times a year, but if we make the most of it and have a great points day with the Roland Chevrolet Camaro it will be a great day for us.”

This Week’s South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet at Watkins Glen International … Brendan Gaughan will pilot chassis No. 120 this weekend in the Zippo 200 at the 2.45-mile road course. Chassis No. 120 is a new addition for the No. 62 team and will make its debut during practice on Thursday.

Gaughan at The Glen … In five previous NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at The Glen, Gaughan has completed 385 of 410 (93.9 percent) laps that he has competed. The Las Vegas native has led five laps and averages a starting position of 19.2 and finishing position of 20.8. In 2015, Gaughan earned a career-high 10th at Watkins Glen.

South Point is Back … The 41-year-old driver returns to the famed black-and-gold colors of the South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet this weekend at Watkins Glen International. Last week, Gaughan sported the red, white and blue colors of U.S. Cellular at Iowa Speedway.

This Week at South Point Hotel & Casino … This week the South Point Arena and Equestrian Center will host the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association Western US Championships Aug. 3 – 6. The Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association (C.M.S.A.) is the fastest growing equestrian sport in the nation. Mounted contestants compete in this fast action timed event using two 0.45-caliber single-action revolvers each loaded with five rounds of specially prepared blank ammunition. The C.M.S.A. has a variety of levels of competition for everyone, ranging from novice levels to the seasoned professional.

What is the biggest challenge at The Glen?
“I’m really excited. They just did the big repave and spent a lot of money to make a great race track even better. I am bummed they “NASCAR-ized” the track so much. They took out several tough parts and made them easier. I wish we would run the omitted boot portion of The Glen, it is the most technical part of the track. I’m begging to run the boot. Most people like the chicane or bus stop but for me, I love the carousel turn. If you get through there with a good long run down to Turn 10, you can gain so much in that turn. You can out brake other drivers and gain position, or you can lose a lot in that section. That’s my favorite part of Watkins Glen.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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