The first of three road course races in four weeks is on deck this weekend at Watkins Glen International (WGI) and NASCAR XFINITY Series driver and owner B.J. McLeod is prepared to make the most of his road course extravaganza inSaturday afternoon’s Zippo 200.
McLeod, a gifted short track racer from Wauchula, Florida will be the first to admit he is no savvy road course racer, but he looks at Saturday afternoon’s battle at The Glen as a prime opportunity to twist and turn towards a solid finish.
“When it comes to road course racing, these races are unpredictable,” said McLeod who finished a solid 23rd last Saturday night at Iowa Speedway. “This weekend will be my XFINITY Series debut on a road course, but we’re looking to make the best of it with a solid top-20 performance to kick off an August stretch of road course fever.”
With no prior starts at WGI, McLeod will join the rest of his competitors in the Finger Lakes region at a fast road course which recently completed a repavement – which means a new surface with blazing speeds and likely an unpredictable race.
For McLeod in his No. 78 Ford Mustang, it’s a race where the team plans to stay on their course and race the race track, while fighting for every spot through the left and right hand turns.
“The track is going to be incredibly fast this weekend, there’s no hiding behind that,” added McLeod. “The goal for me is to be make sure we can get the car handling comfortably and then just pick and choose our battles from there.
“I need to make sure I don’t wheel-hop the car and don’t over drive it and go off course. Once I get into a groove, it will be just fighting for every spot we can get and hoping we can get find ourselves in a good position at the end.”
A bonus for the XFINITY Series teams thanks to the repave is extra practice time they’ll receive in preparation for the 20th race of the season. Nearly three hours of practice on Thursday, followed by a short session on Friday will allow McLeod some much needed time to get acquainted with the 2.45-mile road course.
“Anytime you can get extra track time it’s a bonus,” added McLeod. “For us though, on a budget, we’ll just have to work hard to make sure we use that time wisely and make sure we’re at our best during final practice on Friday and hopefully we can carry that over to qualifying later in the day.”
For the Zippo 200, McLeod will be joined by teammate Scott Heckert who will attempt to make his second career XFINITY Series start at Watkins Glen.
Heckert, a former full-time competitor in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East is a talented road racer and hopes to show off his skills in the No. 15 Ford Mustang prepared by B.J. McLeod Motorsports fused in a collaborative effort between McLeod and Rick Ware Racing. Heckert made his XFINITY Series debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July.
“I’m really excited for Scott this weekend,” added McLeod. “He did exactly what we asked him to do at New Hampshire and now he can come to Watkins Glen and have a shot at a top-20 finish or hopefully something better. He’s a great young man and we’re excited to work with him again this season.”
Veteran industry crew chief George (David) Ingram Jr. will call the shots for the No. 78 B.J. McLeod Motorsports Ford Mustang for the 20th race of the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series season.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!