NASCAR Pre-Race Media: Road America Track Trends, Race Preview, etc

TRACK: Road America (4.048-mile road course) DISTANCE: 62 Laps – STAGE 1: 11 Laps, Stage 2: 18 Laps, FINAL STAGE 33 LAPS, 251 Miles)

Just the 3rd ever Cup race on this track. Tim Flock won in 1956 and Chase Elliott last year.

The teams make their way to the third different track in the last four years on the Fourth of July weekend as from 1959 through 2019, we’ve always been in Daytona for the Firecracker 400. To spice up the race for the playoffs, that event was moved to the regular season finale for 2020 and beyond.

To make room for that, the Brickyard 400 was shifted from that slot to the Fourth of July weekend in 2020. But, with the Brickyard moving to the road course last season, the race was then moved back to August and now July. That left a void in the schedule for the big holiday weekend. NASCAR filled it with Road America. Can this track become a mainstay in such a big part of NASCAR’s annual schedule?

Prime Sports NASCAR Preview Show

This is the first track to host two straight but rumors are surrounding it being moved to a Chicago street course race.


TRACK COMPARISONS

A long 4 mile track that’s similar to COTA. There’s fast sections but also slower braking zones to where you can make passes. Pit strategy going to be key here with such long laps.


Favorites

Chase Elliott

He is the defending race winner and the most dominating road course racer in the sport right now. However, is his advantage gone on road courses after going 0-for-2 this season and only 2-for-7 last year? He enters off of a win in Nashville.

Ross Chastain

He spent a lot of time figuring out road courses last season and it paid off. He was seventh here a year ago.  Chastain also had three top seven finishes in his last six road course starts to 2021. He then won COTA back in March and was 7th in Sonoma. He has 6 top 8 finishes in the last 8 starts on the season including 3 straight.

Ryan Blaney

He was 4th in COTA and 6th in Sonoma to make me start to believe in him on road courses again. Also, Blaney enters this weekend having scored 3 straight top 6 finishes on the year too.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – MARCH 26: Daniel Suarez, driver of the #99 CommScope Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Echopark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on March 26, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Sleepers

Tyler Reddick

He put a lot of emphasis on road courses and was eighth a year ago and 5th in COTA.

Daniel Suarez

He won Sonoma and led every lap of the 1st stage at COTA.

AJ Allmendinger

He’s always a threat on road courses and even won Indy last year. He was in the hunt for the win on the final lap in COTA and in the top 10 before a late race incident in Sonoma.

Austin Cindric

He’s a road racer by nature and was 8th and 5th respectively in the 2 road course races run this season. Cindric also has 4 top 11 results in the last 5 races on the season too.

Kevin Harvick

He’s starting to heat up on the season (6 top 10’s last 8 starts) and has 2 top 11 finishes in the 2 road races in 2022 as well.

Michael McDowell

He’s won at Road America in the Xfinity Series and was 3rd in Sonoma a few weeks ago.


Who To Fade?

Kyle Larson

He was second in COTA last year and dominated the Indy road course as well. In this race, he was running in the top five before being spun by his teammate (Alex Bowman) in the closing laps. He’s not had a top 10 though in any of the 2 road courses run this season too.

Joe Gibbs Racing

The road courses haven’t been kind to JGR in 2022. They went 3-7-18-28 in COTA and 26-27-30-31 in Road America.

Joey Logano

31st in COTA and 17th in Sonoma. His only top 5’s since late April (8 starts) are wins. I don’t see him winning on Sunday.

Brad Keselowski

He’s not been his best on road courses including being 13th last year. Last season, Keselowski was fifth on the Daytona ROVAL but 19th, 15th, 13th, 35th 24th and 20th respectively every where else.


Of Note

The final green flag run was 17 laps last year. 86% of last year’s race ran under green flag conditions.


Key Stat

Hendrick Motorsports had won 9 of the last 13 overall road course races in general entering this season Counting Joe Gibbs Racing, them and HMS had combined to win 11 of the last 14 road course races in that span. Throw in Furniture Row Racing (Martin Truex Jr.) who was aligned with JGR, these three teams have won 14 of the last 18 road course races coming into 2022. The only ones they didn’t win was when Ryan Blaney (Team Penske) was victorious in 2018 on the Charlotte ROVAL when Truex was crashed in the final turn on the final lap as well as AJ Allmendinger stealing the way at Indy last August when Denny Hamlin was spun while leading coming to the white flag or else it would be 18 straight.

They’re each 0-for-2 this season with Trackhouse Racing winning both.

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