Petty, Childress, JTG, Furniture Row teams testing at Watkins Glen

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After this coming weekend’s GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will travel to perhaps the final “wild card” race of the regular season at the Watkins Glen International road course.

The Cheez-It 355 at the Glen on Aug. 10 could be the last big opportunity for teams not currently locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup to steal a regular season win and make the 10-race playoff run.

In the most recent “wild card” earlier this month at Daytona, Richard Petty Motorsports’ Aric Almirola won a rain-shortened Coke Zero 400 to become the 11th different driver on the Chase Grid.

Now, RPM is focusing on getting its road racing ace, Marcos Ambrose (pictured, from 2013), into the Chase. Both Almirola and Ambrose are among a group of Chase hopefuls that will be testing today and tomorrow at the Glen.

Other Cup drivers involved in the two-day session are Richard Childress Racing rookie Austin Dillon, JTG Daugherty Racing’s A.J. Allmendinger, and Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr.

Additionally, RCR Nationwide Series driver Ty Dillon is getting seat time in a Cup car after winning last Saturday in the NNS race at Indianapolis.

Among the four currently winless Cup drivers involved in the test, only Austin Dillon would make the Chase if it started now. He’s four points up on Kasey Kahne for the 16th and final spot on the Chase Grid.

But while Austin Dillon can possibly make it on points, it’s win or bust for Ambrose (22nd in Chase outlook, 48 points behind Dillon), Allmendinger (24th in Chase outlook, 93 behind Dillon), and Truex (25th in Chase outlook, 94 points behind Dillon).

One would assume the Glen would be right in Ambrose and Allmendinger’s wheelhouses. Ambrose has won two of the last three Sprint Cup races on the New York road course, while ‘Dinger earned two Nationwide Series road course wins last year and the Sprint Cup pole position this past June at Sonoma.

But Truex has performed well at the Glen in his Cup career, too (three Top-5s, 5 Top-10s in eight starts). He also won last year at Sonoma for Michael Waltrip Racing.

Here are the starting times for 2020 NTT IndyCar Series action on NBC and NBCSN

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Another important tidbit for NTT IndyCar Series fans is out as INDYCAR and NBC announced starting times for the 2020 season. The full television schedule is also included.

There are different starting times at four races in 2020 from 2019. Those include the March 15 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge at Circuit of the Americas on April 26, a later starting time for the Saturday night race at Iowa Speedway on July 18 on NBCSN

INDYCAR released the green flag times today for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season that features starting time shifts at four races – St. Petersburg, Circuit of The Americas, Iowa and Mid-Ohio – and the anticipated evening return to Richmond Raceway.

Those four returning races represent the only significant green flag start time changes from a year ago in the 17-race 2020 NTT IndyCar Series schedule, beginning with the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg scheduled for Sunday, March 15.

The August 16 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be moved to an earlier starting time and will be broadcast on NBC. Previously, the race was scheduled for 4:05 p.m., but has been changed to a 12:45 p.m. Eastern Time green flag.

INDYCAR’s return to Richmond Raceway on Saturday, June 27 will begin at 8:15 p.m. ET. That is the only new event on the schedule.

Detailed broadcast information for the entire season will be announced at a later date.

Here are the notable changes to the starting times on the schedule:

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which began at 1:40 p.m. ET this past season, will now have a 3:30 p.m. green flag. The race on the downtown streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., will be celebrating its 10thanniversary as the series’ season opener and be televised on NBC Sports Network.

The AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge at Circuit of The Americas on Sunday, April 26, will have a similar shift, moving from a 1:43 p.m. ET green flag this past season to 4:10 p.m. (3:10 p.m. local) in 2020. The permanent road course in Austin, Texas, will play host to the fourth race of the season and be broadcast on NBCSN.

The Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway, set for Saturday, July 18, on NBCSN, will be better accommodated for an evening race under the lights with the green flag moving from 7:15 p.m. ET to 9 p.m. (8 p.m. local).

“The return of a night race for INDYCAR at Iowa Speedway is exciting news for our race fans, sponsors, and the entire region,” Iowa Speedway President David Hyatt said. “The cars look great under the lights, and the competition should be even more fierce given what should be cooler conditions. Our track provides some of the best racing you’ll see anywhere, which will be good for attendance. This will be a can’t-miss weekend for all race fans.”

The return to a true night race at Iowa was the result of fans requesting it. The race will begin at 8:00 p.m. CT on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. And for fans and drivers, it is nostalgic, hearkening back to the first race many of them experienced … a night race on a short track.

The series hasn’t held a race that began after dusk at Iowa Speedway since 2015, and drivers and fans are welcoming it. Not only does it look more vibrant — and create sparks as cars bottom out — it also makes for better racing. Tires grip better when the track is cooler. Fans also avoid sweltering conditions during summer afternoons.

The Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday, Aug. 16, will be the only race among the four that moves to an earlier start time. The race, which had a 4:05 p.m. ET start this past season, will shift to a 12:45 p.m. green flag in 2020 and be televised on NBC.

The NTT IndyCar Series heads to Richmond Raceway – the only new addition on the 2020 schedule – for the 11th race of the season on Saturday, June 27. The field will take the green flag at 8:15 ET for the start of the first Indy car race at the .75-mile oval since 2009. The race will be broadcast on NBCSN.