In Saturday’s United Rentals 176, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will make its first visit to Watkins Glen International since 2000, when Greg Biffle took the checkered flag in the last race before the turn of the century.
Predictably, there are no drivers in the field for Saturday’s race who competed at the Glen 21 years ago. But there are 11 drivers with NASCAR national series experience at the 2.45-mile road course—either in the Xfinity or Cup Series.
The regular-season finale for the Truck Series will be contested over 72 laps (176.4 miles), with stage breaks scheduled after 20 and 45 laps. It’s the first leg of a Saturday doubleheader with the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
|United Rentals 176 Information|
|Race||United Rentals 176 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race|
|Location||Watkins Glen International|
|Time||Saturday, August 7, 12:30 p.m. ET|
|How to Watch||FS1|
Allmendinger wasn’t entered in the race, but that changed as of 11:05 a.m. when GMS Racing announced that Chase Purdy, the driver of the No. 23 Chevrolet Silverado, had tested positive for COVID-19.
Allmendinger agreed to take Purdy’s place in the No. 23 truck and shot to the top of the board—again, for good reason. An acknowledged road course race, Allmendinger picked up his only Cup Series win at the Glen in 2014.
Watkins Glen is the type of high-speed, hard-braking road course Allmendinger loves, and he’ll definitely be a threat on Saturday, even though he made his last Truck Series start in a one-off at Fontana in 2008.
The only negative is that he’ll have to start from the rear of the field because of the driver change, but Allmendinger has the speed and skill to overcome that handicap. At +125, he’s still a good bet.
Paul Menard didn’t score a single top 10 in his 16 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Watkins Glen, but don’t let that stat fool you.
Menard is a skilled road racer, and in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, he posted eight top 10s and three top-fives in 11 starts at the 2.45-mile road course. Menard, who is retired from full-time racing, drove to a second-place finish at the Glen in 2017.
Menard will start 39th in Saturday’s race, and that’s an obvious disadvantage, but the overall field is a far cry from the Cup Series in terms of talent and depth. In his only other Truck Series start this season—on the road course at Circuit of the Americas—Menard started 26th and finished 11th.
At Watkins Glen, we think he has a good chance to finish in the top five, given the quality of the ThorSport equipment he’s driving. If he does, the payoff is a generous +600 via DraftKings Sportsbook. That’s a hard bet to resist.
The math is simple. Ten drivers will compete in the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff. Seven of those spots already are taken entering Saturday’s cutoff race.
Carson Hocevar, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith currently occupy the final three berths on points, with sufficient margins over 11th place to feel comfortable as the regular season comes to an end.
That means Derek Kraus (+4500), Tyler Ankrum (+1800) and 2016 series champion Johnny Sauter (+8000)—the three drivers closest to the cut line—realistically must win to secure one of the three available Playoff spots.
But take it from us. There will be no Saturday miracles, especially with Allmendinger added to the field.
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Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]More info on Reid Spencer
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