For the second year-in-a-row the NASCAR Cup Series will be celebrating Independence Day (July 4) Weekend in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin competing on the world famous Road America this Sunday, July 3 at 3 p.m. ET on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).
This weekend’s Kwik Trip 250 presented by JOCKEY Made In America race marks just the third-time in series history that Road America has hosted a NASCAR Cup Series event (1956, 2021, 2022).
In the early 1950’s, sports car races were being run on the streets in and around Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, but the state legislature banned racing on the public roads soon after. A man named Clif Tufte organized a group of local citizens and leaders of the Chicago Region of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). This group developed plans and sold stock to build a permanent racecourse. The overall vision of Road America grew out of the dreams of Tufte, a highway engineer, who chose 525 acres of Wisconsin farmland outside the Village of Elkhart Lake for the track. Ground broke for Road America in April of 1955 and the track’s first SCCA national race weekend was held later that same year (September 10, 1955).
At 4.048-miles in length, with 14 turns, the track is virtually the same today as it was when it was first laid out. The natural topography of the glacial Kettle Moraine area was utilized for the track, sweeping around rolling hills and plunging through ravines making it one of the most challenging tracks in the world.
The first, and up until last season, the only, NASCAR Cup Series race at Road America was on August 12, 1956. An estimated crowd of 10,000 braved terrible weather to watch the event. And in an unusual ruling, NASCAR limited the cars to 10 gallons of fuel at start the race.
The August 12, 1956, race was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Tim Flock driving a Mercury for car owner Bill Stroppe. Flock led 17 laps of the 63-lap event, making just two pit stops en route to his win; his fourth victory of the 1956 season. Flock won with an average speed of 73.858 mph and did it in 3 hours, 29 minutes, and 50 seconds. He won the race by a 17 second margin of victory over second place. Bill Stroppe’s cars actually finished 1-2 in the race with Flock winning and his teammate Billy Myers finishing second.
Then last season, the NASCAR Cup Series returned to Road America after nearly 65 years, and the race was won by Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Chase Elliott with a margin of victory of 5.705-seconds over second place Christopher Bell.
Road America will be the third of six road courses on the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series schedule – Circuit of The Americas, Sonoma Raceway, Road America, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Watkins Glen International and Charlotte ROVAL. Trackhouse Racing teammates Ross Chastain (Circuit of The Americas) and Daniel Suárez (Sonoma) have already won the first two road course races of the year.
The highspeed on-track activity for the NASCAR Cup Series will begin this weekend with practice from 11:30 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. ET, directly followed by Busch Light Pole Qualifying at 12:20 p.m. ET. Both events will be televised on USA Network from 12-1:30 p.m. ET.
Next Race: Kwik Trip 250 presented by JOCKEY Made in America
The Place: Road America
The Date: Sunday, July 3
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
TV: USA, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 250.98 miles (62 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 15),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 30), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 62)
Spotlight shifts to Chase Elliott following Nashville win
Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Chase Elliott became the fifth driver of the 2022 season with two victories following his win last weekend at Nashville Superspeedway. Now, the NASCAR Cup Series points standings leader, Elliott, holds a 30-point edge on Ross Chastain in second in the driver standings, as the spotlight shifts its focus on the series’ Most Popular driver and his quest for his second title.
Elliott’s win in Nashville gave him a much needed cushion between himself and Chastain as they battle it out for the Regular Season Championship and the coveted 15 Playoff points that come with it. Unlike in season’s past when one driver would accumulate a lot of Playoff points heading into the postseason, this year the five drivers with multiple wins are primarily grasping onto the lion’s share of the Playoff points – Elliott (13 Playoff pts.), Chastain (13), William Byron (13), Joey Logano (12) and Denny Hamlin (12) – making winning this season Regular Season title that much more important.
Fortunately for Chase Elliott, the NASCAR Cup Series is returning to a road course this weekend which is the type of track that nearly half (seven) of his 15 career Cup Series wins have come on; including last season’s race at Road America. Elliott has also grabbed road course wins at Watkins Glen (2018, 2019), Charlotte ROVAL (2019, 2020), Daytona Road Course (2020), and Circuit of The Americas (2021). Last season at Road America, Elliott started 34th and raced his way up to the win, leading 24 laps en route to the checkered flag.
This season, Elliott has put up two wins (Dover, Nashville), four top fives and 11 top 10s. He has led 513 laps and has held the points standings lead since assuming the position following Atlanta. If Elliott manages to hold on and win the NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championship, he will become the fifth different driver to accomplish the feat; joining Martin Truex Jr. (2017), Kyle Busch (2019, 2018), Kevin Harvick (2020) and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson (2021).
And if Elliott would go on to win the overall series championship in Phoenix in November, he would become just the 17th different driver all-time with multiple titles. He would also join Herb Thomas (1951, 1953), Tim Flock (1952, 1955), Buck Baker (1956, 1957), Joe Weatherly (1962, 1963), Ned Jarrett (1961, 1965), Terry Labonte (1984, 1996) and Kyle Busch (2015, 2019) as the eighth driver all-time with just two series championships.
Playoff Bubble: Harvick bounces Almirola out of Playoff transfer spot
With Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kevin Harvick (16th) and Aric Almirola (17th) teetering the postseason cutoff line in the NASCAR Cup Series driver Playoff outlook standings, these last nine races left in the regular season are going to be tense. A mere nine points separates the SHR teammates as the series heads to Road America for the Kwik Trip 250 presented by JOCKEY Made in America this Sunday, July 3, at 3 p.m. ET on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Heading into Nashville last weekend, Almirola was in 16th with a seven point cushion between himself and Harvick, but Harvick’s top-10 finish was enough to leap frog Almirola in the standings putting himself back into postseason contention. This weekend at Road America, Almirola will try regaining his standing in the points. Last season, Almirola finished 14th to Harvick’s 27th at Road America.
Of the drivers without wins this season heading into this weekend at Road America, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney currently has the largest points cushion on the Playoff cutoff with +112 points. Blaney is coming off a solid third-place finish last weekend at Nashville and will hope some of that momentum will carryover this weekend on the Elkhart Lake road course. Blaney finished 20th at Road America last season but does have one career Cup road course win at the Charlotte ROVAL in 2018.
Next on the Playoff outlook grid are Joe Gibbs Racing teammates and former road course winners Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell. Truex currently holds a 73-point edge on the postseason cutoff and Bell is up by 37 points. Truex is tied with Kyle Busch for the second-most road course wins among active drivers with four each. Truex has won three races at Sonoma and once at Watkins Glen. He finished ninth in last season’s Road America race. As for Bell, he grabbed his first career NASCAR Cup Series win at the Daytona Beach Road Course in 2021. Watch for Bell to contend this weekend he finished runner-up to Elliott in last season’s Road America race.
|2022 Driver Playoff Outlook Following Race No. 17 – Drivers Without Wins|
|Rank||Driver||Points||Wins||Stages||Playoff Pts||Pts From Cutoff|
|14||Martin Truex Jr.||516||0||5||5||73|
|25||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||309||0||0||0||-143|
|28||Harrison Burton #||253||0||0||0||-199|
|29||Todd Gilliland #||252||0||0||0||-200|
Baker’s dozen worth of road course winners entered at Road America
You can’t throw a wrench in the NASCAR Cup Series garage without hitting an active road course winner this weekend at Road America, as 13 are scheduled to compete on Sunday, July 3 at 3 p.m. ET in the Kwik Trip 250 presented by JOCKEY Made In America (USA, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Led by last season’s Road America winner, Chase Elliott, with seven NASCAR Cup Series road course wins, 13 active road course winners will be taking to 4.048-mile track this weekend; including the series most recent road course winner, Monterrey, Mexico’s Daniel Suárez, who took the win at Sonoma Raceway a few weeks back.
If Elliott wins this weekend, he will tie NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart for the second-most NASCAR Cup Series road course wins all-time with eight each. Just one behind series road course wins record holder and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon with nine road course wins.
|Active Road Course Winners in the NASCAR Cup Series|
|Active Road Course Winners||Total Wins||Sonoma||WGI||Charlotte||Daytona||Indy||COTA||Road America|
|Martin Truex Jr||4||3||1||0||0||0||0||0|
NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.
First-Time Winners on Road Courses – Since 2018 in the NASCAR Cup Series road courses have accounted for four first-time winners in the series; including two this season – Chase Elliott (Watkins Glen, 2018), Christopher Bell (Daytona RC, 2021), Ross Chastain (COTA, 2022) and Daniel Suárez (Sonoma, 2022).
Pulling Double Duty at Road America – A total of six drivers will be pulling double duty this weekend at Road America – AJ Allmendinger, Ty Dillon, Josh Bilicki, Cole Custer, Tyler Reddick and Kyle Larson will all be competing in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday, July 2, and the NASCAR Cup Series race on July 3 at Road America.
SportsCar stars Tilley and Hand are entered this weekend – Two drivers that cut their teeth in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Kyle Tilley and Joey Hand will be attempting to make the NASCAR Cup Series race this weekend at Road America.
Kyle Tilley hails from Bath, England and this weekend will be his fourth career start in the series and first of the 2022 season. Tilley will be piloting the No 78 Live Fast Motorsports Ford with crew chief Lee Leslie on Sunday. In his three career starts in the series last season, he has put up finishes of 31st (COTA), 35th (Road America) and 30th (Watkins Glen). Tilley is no stranger to Road America, he has one IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship start at the track where he started fourth and finished third in the ORECA LMP2 07 for Era Motorsports last season.
Hand, a former Chip Ganassi Racing driver in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, began an association with Ford in 2015. That year, he became a full-time driver for Ganassi and finished fourth in the IMSA Prototype standings while teamed with Scott Pruett.
Hand, from Sacramento, California, will be piloting the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford this weekend at Road America with crew chief Kevyn Rebolledo. This weekend will be Hands fourth career start in the series and third this season. In his first three starts he put up a 27th (Charlotte ROVAL, 2020), 35th (COTA, 2021) and 20th (Sonoma, 2021).
Though this weekend will be his NASCAR Cup Series career track debut, Hand has competed at Road America in IMSA posting an eighth-place finish for Turner Motorsports in a BMW M3 in 2011.
Loris Hezemans to attempt Road America this weekend – The Team Hezeberg with driver Loris Hezemans will attempt to qualify for the NASCAR Cup Series race, the Kwik Trip 250 presented by JOCKEY Made in America on Sunday, July 3 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Hezemans, from Eindhoven, Netherlands, made his series career debut earlier this season at Circuit of The Americas; he started 36th but finished 34th seven laps down due to a rear gear issue. This will be Hezemans’ series track debut at Road America, though, he does have one start at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for BJ McLeod Motorsports in 2019; he started 24th and finished 22nd.