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NASCAR's Nationwide Series teams will join their Sprint Cup counterparts this Saturday and take on the challenge of Watkins Glen's road course during the running of the Zippo 200.


The Zippo 200 is 82 laps, 200.9 miles, around the raceway's 2.45, 11 turn, road course.

The race has 49 entries who will be vying for the 43 starting berths during the Saturday morning qualifying session. 

This race is tough on brakes, tough on tire wear and a severe strain on a driver's patience.

The race will be broadcast live by the ESPN2 Network beginning at 230 pm eastern time.


One of the story lines, connected with the Zippo 200, involves who is not in this race. In a very surprising move Phoenix Racing team owner James Finch, who campaigns the #1 Miccosukee Chevrolet, recently announced the dismissal of driver Mike Bliss.

It's not exactly known what the problem is here, but it's widely believed that it may have developed in either late June or early July. On the afternoon of July 5th Finch announced the release of Bliss from his driving duties. Then two days later he announced that Bliss had been reinstated. Finch next changed his mind again and, this past Sunday, announced that Bliss was once again given his release. Sprint Cup driver Ryan Newman will drive the car during Saturday's Zippo 200.

This is a rather surprising move in light of Bliss' performance levels so far this season.  He won the Nationwide Series race at the Lowes Motor Speedway last May and currently has the team ranked sixth in the series' championship points standings.

In a prepared statement, issues last Monday, Bliss said "it's hard to comprehend being fired when you're sixth in the points after the Iowa race. I never expected that considering we finished 14th even when the motor blew up at the last race. Getting the call, (from Finch), last Sunday was a real shock. Right now I'm trying to find a way to get back into a car and at least finish in the top ten in the driver's points, with next year also in the back of my mind."

There will also a major focus placed on a driver who is entered in the Zippo 200. Jeffrey Earnhardt will be making his official Nationwide Series debut at Watkins Glen. The 20 year old grandson of Dale Earnhardt Sr, and son of driver Kerry Earnhardt, will be behind the wheel of the #40 Chevrolet for Key Motorsports. There are also reported plans to have Earnhardt in the car for the Nationwide Series road course event in Montreal.

Also of noteworthy interest is an entry from Sprint Cup team owner Chip Ganassi. At press time there was no official word on the driver, but the entry is the #42 Smith Ironworks Dodge.

With the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series both racing at Watkins Glen this week you can logically expect an influx of Cup drivers, also known as "Insurance Whackers", who are entered in Saturday's Zippo 200. This list is of course being led by drivers Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards who are running the full time schedules for both racing series. Busch and Edwards are ranked one-two in the current championship standings.

Other Cup notables in the Nationwide Series race include Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano, Jeff Burton, Brian Vickers, Kevin Harvick, Marcus Ambrose, Robby Gordon, Joe Nemechek, Dave Blaney, Paul Menard and Scott Speed.

Also in Saturday's Nationwide Series race will be three so called road course ringers, or those drivers who excel in this form or racing. Boris Said will be driving the #09 Zaxbys Ford normally campaigned by driver John Wes Townley.

Road racing ace Ron Fellows will be driving the #5 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports which is, as we all well know, co owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr and Rick Hendrick. This will be an entry to watch in this race.

Also keep an eye on road course ringer Tom Hubert who will be driving the #41 Chevrolet for team owner Rick Ware. by Dave Grayson
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