The Nationwide Series will join Sprint Cup this weekend at Watkins Glen International. This will be the second of three road courses for Nationwide this year. The first course race was held in June at Road America in Elkhart Lakes, Wis. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal is scheduled next week.
Six Sprint Cup regulars, including Carl Edwards, are competing in the Nationwide race at Watkins Glen. Edwards is expected to make his first start in NASCAR's second-tier series this season. After running a full Nationwide schedule the past seven years, he opted not to compete in the series this season to focus more on his Sprint Cup efforts.
"The Nationwide race at Watkins Glen is almost like a Sprint Cup event because of the length of the race," Edwards said. "It's a very long and tough race, and there is a lot of competition with all the road course specialists. There are always a lot of really fast guys there, so it's a race that will test the equipment and our strategy."
Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Paul Menard are the other full-time Sprint Cup drivers entered in this event.
Kurt Busch won last year's Nationwide race at Watkins Glen. Busch substituted for the injured Brad Keselowski in Penske Racing's No. 22 car. Keselowski skipped the event there while he continued to heal from a fractured left ankle he sustained weeks before in a crash during testing at Road Atlanta.
This race will also feature its share of road-course experts, most notably Ron Fellows, who will drive the No. 5 car for JR Motorsports. Fellows also drove the car for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Nationwide team at Road America, where he finished third.
"I feel very good about it," Fellows said. "We had a strong car at Road America. We played catch-up the day following a flat tire, then we had an issue in the pits just trying to fix some radios.
"But, you know, Watkins Glen, we've had great success at the Glen. It's a track that suits my driving style. It's like a second home. I really enjoy racing there, and I'm really looking forward to it."
Fellows has scored three wins, eight top-10 finishes and two poles in 11 Nationwide starts at Watkins Glen. His victories there came in 1998, 2000 and '01. He finished seventh in last year's race.
Forty-eight teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Zippo 200.
Series: NASCAR Nationwide. Date: Saturday, August 11. Race: Zippo 200. Site: Watkins Glen International. Track: 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course. Start time: 2:15 p.m.(ET). Laps: 82. Miles: 200.9. 2011 Winner: Kurt Busch. Television: ABC. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.