WATKINS GLEN, New York – Flying under the radar in his NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last month, K&N Pro Series veteran Scott Heckert is looking to be on the radar in Saturday afternoon’s Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
The Ridgefield, Connecticut native was considered a road course expert in his previous engagements with HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks in K&N, but upping the ante in XFINITY no doubt provides the challenges that Heckert is ready to embrace.
“I’m excited to get back to a road course, especially at Watkins Glen,” said Heckert. “It’s a unique, but fast road course – and with the repave it will make the lap times even quicker, it should be a lot of fun this weekend.”
Despite the repavement and his inexperience in XFINITY Series competition, Heckert knows the layout and finesse of WGI like the back of his hand. The 22-year-old is a two-time winner at the 2.45-mile road course, including last August’s K&N race – a statistic he hopes will pay off in lap times with his No. 15 Ford Mustang, but also on-track with respect amongst his competitors.
“I’m coming into Watkins Glen with a very open-mind this weekend, but I feel like I’ll have some advantage over some of the drivers who don’t have a lot of experience there,” Heckert said. “This weekend is a good opportunity not only for myself, but my team to get a huge boost of momentum and then we’ll see what the future holds.”
While some will choose to use the extra track time this weekend to get familiar with the new asphalt at Watkins Glen, Heckert said his team may defer from other’s agenda to keep their car in one piece for the Zippo 200.
“Road course racing tends to be brutal on the equipment, so I don’t want to put ourselves in position where we may abuse the equipment more than we want too,” added Heckert. “The extra track time to get up to speed with the new surface is crucial for those who don’t have many laps, but for someone like me – I feel once we get a good baseline – we can ease back on the pedal and save our car for the race.”
As for the race, the goal is plain and simple.
“I want to get the most experience I can back in a stock car on a road course, which means completing all the laps,” he added. “But, at the same time I want to get the most out of the car and be running in a good spot at the end.”
B.J. McLeod, whose team is working with Rick Ware Racing in a collaborative effort this weekend at Watkins Glen has prepared Heckert’s for his second XFINITY Series start of the season.
“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.”
In practice on Thursday, Heckert posted the 21st and 19th fastest speeds respectively at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
The Zippo 200 (82 Laps / 200.9 Miles) is the 20th of 33 NASCAR XFINITY Series on the 2016 schedule. Practice begins Thursday, August 4 from 1:00 p.m. – 2:25 p.m., with a second session etched in from 3:30 p.m. – 4:55 p.m., while a final session is set for Friday, Aug. 5 from 10:00 a.m. – 10:55 a.m. Qualifying is set for later in the day beginning at 4:45 p.m. The 40-car field will take the green flag shortly the next day, Saturday, Aug. 6 after 2:00 p.m. with live coverage on CNBC, NBC Sports Live Extra (Online), Motor Racing Network (Radio) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Satellite Radio, Channel 90).