5 burning questions for Sunday’s Jockey Made in America 250 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN)

Who Are The Favorites?

Well, if you go off trends, you have to say Chase Elliott. He’s won five of the last seven road course races in the Cup Series and was runner-up in the last one at Sonoma. His teammate Kyle Larson won that race at Sonoma and was runner-up to Elliott the road course race prior in COTA.

I’d start there.

You can also never count out Martin Truex Jr. either. He was 12th on the Daytona road course earlier this season but that’s because of a bad ending. He crashed in the rain in COTA and was third at Sonoma. From 2017 through 2020, Truex had three wins, two runner-ups and a third place effort in nine road course starts. The only reason its not four wins is because he crashed with Jimmie Johnson on the last lap in the last corner of the ROVAL race at Charlotte while leading in 2018.

Who Are Some Sleepers?

Don’t overlook Joey Logano. In three road course races this season, he has a top five in each. Also, Alex Bowman has three top 10’s in as many tries on the trio of road courses as well. The other ones to watch are Chip Ganassi Racing. Remarkably, they’ve had a top 10 in all three races with Kurt Busch finishing fourth in Daytona and sixth in Sonoma while Ross Chastain was fourth in COTA and seventh in Sonoma too.

I’d also look at Denny Hamlin (2 top 10’s in 3 tries) and Kyle Busch (10th in COTA, 5th in Sonoma) as sleepers due to their odds.

Who To Fade?

Stewart-Haas Racing is an easy one. They’ve not had a top five finisher in any of the three road course races with just two top 10’s between them. Aric Almirola has no top 15’s in three tries, Cole Custer was 20th or worse in two of his three tries while Chase Briscoe was 17th or worse in two of his three starts. Kevin Harvick was 37th and 22nd respectively his last two road course races.

I’d also fade Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney. Keselowski, was fifth, 19th and 15th respectively and Blaney 15th, 13th and 10th himself.

The last one I’d fade is William Byron. He was 33rd, 11th and 35th in his three starts. He’s had a top 10 everywhere else minus Daytona.

What Will Road America Race Like?

Arguably this will race like nothing else. It’s the biggest track (4.014-miles) and has more run off areas than Watkins Glen, bigger than Sonoma and nothing like the ROVAL’s. This event will stand out alone. Also, the biggest factor will be the playoff picture. I think most people assumed at the start of the season with the new events on the schedule, mainly road courses, we’d have the potential for some fluke winners. I mean, it started off that way with Christopher Bell winning on the Daytona road course back in July. But, in the two road courses since, it looked more normal.

Chase Elliott won at COTA and Kyle Larson in Sonoma. Elliott, arguably should have won at DIS this past February as HMS won both road courses last year with Elliott and the last two in 2019 too. They went 1-2 in each of the last two road courses on the season as well.

Elliott and Larson are the favorites with Martin Truex Jr. close behind. Then you have Joey Logano (3 top 5’s in 3 tries) as the top sleeper to give you four very good picks for Sunday’s inaugural race.

Can anyone beat them? Doubtful on speed. You’ll need strategy. But, how does strategy look at a track we’re visiting for the first time? Usually on tracks of this size, you can pit just before the end of each stage to get track position for the next one. Does that ring true at Road America?

The 11 drivers to have won so far this season can go aggressive and give up stage points to instead position themselves for a win in the end. Really, same can be said for those outside of the playoff picture right now too. The gap between 16th to 17th in the playoff standings continues to grow. If I’m one of the wildcard drivers, I may elect for stage points to further that gap on the bubble.

So, who plays the strategy game and who doesn’t and how that strategy looks is going to be a big factor in how Sunday’s race appears.

Can Elliott 3 Peat Inaugural Road Course Races?

Chase Elliott is the road racing ace. He’s won the last two races at Watkins Glen as well as on the Charlotte ROVAL. He’s also won the inaugural races on the Daytona road course as well as at COTA. Can he be the first Cup winner at Road America?

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