Watkins Glen, NY – Series: NASCAR Nationwide. Date: Saturday, turn road course. Start time: 2:00 p.m. (et). Laps: 82. Miles: 200.9. 2010 Winner: Marcos Ambrose. Television: ESPN. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Satellite.
The Nationwide Series will join Sprint Cup this weekend at Watkins Glen International. This will be the second of three road courses for NASCAR's second-tier series this year. Reed Sorenson won the June race at Road America in Elkhart Lakes, WI. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal is scheduled for August 20.
Six Sprint Cup regulars, including Jimmie Johnson, are competing in the Nationwide race at Watkins Glen.
Johnson will drive the No.7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. The five-time defending Sprint Cup champion has not raced in Nationwide since October 2008 at Charlotte.
"I'm looking forward to a good run and getting more seat time on the road courses," he said. "I do only have one Nationwide win [Chicagoland 2001], and I'd love to get some more."
Johnson has 91 career Nationwide starts, including four with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s team in 2008. He spent two full seasons in the series from 2001-02 before making the jump to Cup. Johnson has competed in three Nationwide races at Watkins Glen, finishing no better than 21st.
His car for Saturday's race is the same one that Ron Fellows drove to a second-place finish at Road America.
In a confusing finish, Justin Allgaier held the lead on final lap, while his Turner Motorsports teammate, Reed Sorenson, was second. Just after the caution flag was displayed for an incident involving Aric Almirola, Allgaier ran out of fuel and stalled on the track. Fellows then passed Sorenson, and it appeared at first that he took the lead.
NASCAR reviewed the finish until several minutes after the conclusion of the race. Race officials determined Fellows moved ahead of Sorenson when the yellow flag was in sight, and therefore, awarded the victory to Sorenson.
"We came so close to winning at Road America," Fellows said. "It was an emotional roller coaster for everyone after that race. As a racer, it's so difficult to have the win seemingly in your grasp and then be told you're runner-up instead. Unfortunately, there is no trophy for second place. So we've got a lot of motivation on our side heading up to Watkins Glen."
Fellows, a road-course expert from Canada, will be behind the wheel of the No.5 Chevrolet for JRM at Watkins Glen. He is a three-time Nationwide race winner at this track (1998, 2000 and '01).
Sorenson is now 12 points behind leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who won last Saturday's race at Iowa.
"We obviously had a really good race at Road America, and I'm just going to apply the same principles this weekend as I did there," Sorenson said. "I think the best way to approach a road course is to stay on the track and take it easy on the transmission and brakes."
Due to his injury at Road Atlanta, Brad Keselowski will not compete in this race. Penske Racing announced earlier this week that Kurt Busch will substitute for Keselowski in the No.22 Dodge. Busch started on the pole and won the 2006 Nationwide race at Watkins Glen. He finished third here the following year.
Forty-eight teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Zippo 200. Marcos Ambrose, the winner of this race the past three years, is not entered.