NASCAR weekly: Daytona instead of Watkins Glen, underglow lighting in Bristol

Credits: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The NASCAR Cup Series will not visit Watkins Glen as planned, but will make its debut at the Daytona road course – Four races were held at Kentucky Speedway

All three national NASCAR series visited the Kentucky Speedway last weekend. A total of four races were held on the typical 1.5-mile oval. There is also a change in the 2020 schedule: While the Watkins Glen round was cancelled, NASCAR announced a race at the Daytona road course. The All-Star Race in Bristol comes with many special features such as underglow lighting.

NASCAR Cup Series (by André Wiegold)

The NASCAR Cup Series race at the Kentucky Speedway brought forth a premiere winner: Cole Custer from Stewart-Haas Racing beat the competition in an action-packed final phase of the race. The first rookie winner since 2016 benefited from a slight contact between Ryan Blaney (Team Penske) and Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing) in the middle of a four wide in the last lap. The stages were won by Aric Almirola (Stewart-Haas Racing) and Brad Keselowski (Team Penske).

Credits: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will not be possible to hold a NASCAR race in Watkins Glen, New York, in 2020. The NASCAR organisators have already found a replacement for the race on August 16: the Daytona International Speedway. For the first time in the history of the stock car series, the drivers will have to take on the road course of the “World Center of Racing”, which is normally used for the IMSA 24h race.

On Thursday morning, July 16th German time, the annual All-Star Race will take place, which is an invitation race and therefore not part of the championship. After all, the winner can look forward to a prize money of one million US dollars. At the All-Star Race, NASCAR tries out different new features and formats.

This year, the starting numbers of the cars are placed further back, near the rear wheel, to create more space for sponsors. In addition, underglow lightings are installed for show purposes. The race will take place in Bristol and not in Charlotte. Only one other time the All-Star Race was not held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway: 1986 in Atlanta.

There is also news from Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham (former NASCAR team owner and crew chief of Jeff Gordon). The duo is set to create a new racing series for 2021, reminiscent of the former IROC series, which existed from 1974 to 2006. A total of twelve drivers will fight for victory on Saturday evenings in identical cars built by Evernham. The drivers will be assigned a crew chief by lot. The races will be hold on short tracks around the USA and the races will be broadcast on CBS. The series is called Superstars Racing Experience, SRX for short.

NASCAR Xfinity Series (by Alessandro Righi)

Austin Cindric (Team Penske) won both races at the Kentucky Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. For the 21-year-old, the wins are his first oval successes in his career. Previously, he had been successful at the road courses in Mid-Ohio and Watkins Glen in 2019.

Credits: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

After claiming the trophy in overtime on Friday evening ahead of Riley Herbst (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Indianapolis winner Chase Briscoe (Stewart-Haas Racing), the Penske youngster dominated the second stage on Saturday and won the race. In the first segment, he finished third behind Noah Gragson (JR Motorsports) and Harrison Burton (Joe Gibbs Racing).

Justin Allgaier (JR Motorsports), who had an accident the day before, was cleared to leave the hospital and allowed to take the wheel again in the Kentucky race. As JR Motorsports announced, he had not been under medical treatment due to the overtime crash. He finished Saturday’s race in fifth place after 200 laps.

Fistfight between Burton and Gragson

Unpleasant scenes could be seen after the checkered flag of the Alsco 300 fell. Gragson and Burton first got into a verbal discussion, seconds later the fistfight followed. The background of this situation was quickly found: Both fought for position three after a late restart, with Gragson on the inside line. He slipped up minimally in the banking due to the lack of grip and touched Burton, who unintentionally added his paint to the safer barrier.

For the NASCAR marshals this is normally considered a racing accident. But Burton had had enough of his opponent and confronted Gragson. After being pushed and visibly provoked by the Gibbs driver, Gragson punched Burton in the face. According to Burton, the start of the feud lays in Charlotte when a similar incident occurred between the two, who are expected to become the next generation of Cup racers.

NASCAR Gander & RV Outdoors Series (by Simon Mones)

Once again, the weather god thwarted NASCAR’s plans, causing the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race in Kentucky to be stopped early.

Shortly after the end of the second stage there were red flags around the track due to lightning. Sheldon Creed (GMS Racing), who had won the previous segment, benefited from the following cancellation and won a race in a national NASCAR series for the first time in his career. Ben Rhodes (ThorSport Racing) finished second, followed by Matt Crafton (ThorSport Racing), Johnny Sauter (ThorSport Racing) and Austin Hill (Hattori Racing Enterprises).

Credits: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In Kentucky, Natalie Decker (Niece Motorsports) was also back on the grid after being cleared to leave the hospital after two weeks. She finished the race in 29th place.

For fans of the NASCAR Gander & RV Outdoors Truck Series there is bad news: The race at the dirt track in Eldora will not take place this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead – as in the other two national series – the race will be held at the road course of the Daytona International Speedway.

NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series (by André Wiegold)

NASCAR racing is back in Mexico! Ruben Rovelo has won the 150-lap race of the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series at the Autodromo Queretaro, a 1,250-metre oval in the centre of the country. Reigning champion Ruben Garcia, who made a guest start in the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series at Valencia, finished second. The second round is scheduled for the 30th of July at the Autodromo Internacional Miguel E. Abed.

Alessandro Righi