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Lap-by-Lap: Road America

June 23, 2012, , NASCAR.com

Lap 50 -- CHECKERED FLAG: Danica Patrick briefly takes fourth place from Max Papis, but Papis goes right back around her. Patrick then gets punted into the gravel trap in Turn 5 by Jacques Villenueve.

Meanwhile, behind this fracas, Nelson Piquet Jr. cruises to the victory.

Lap 49 -- John Young -- the race car driver, not the astronaut -- is very slow on the track. He's trying to get to a pull-off point. He barely makes it. Danica Patrick gives Max Papis a shove on the track in their battle for fourth place. That stacks up traffic behind them.

Lap 48 -- Fourth-place Max Papis has Danica Patrck, Brian Scott and Sam Hornish Jr. in a line right behind him. Trent Owens, Nelson Piquet Jr.'s crew chief, says that he can go to Lap 51, maybe Lap 52, on fuel.

Lap 47 -- Miguel Paludo is on pit road.

Lap 46 -- Nelson Piquet Jr. is being told to save fuel. With a lead of more than 3.6 seconds, he can afford to back off a little bit. Ron Fellows is having trouble getting his car into third gear.

Lap 45 -- This is just the third start of Nelson Piquet Jr.'s Nationwide Series career, and his first this season. His previous best showing in the division is a seventh two years ago at Watkins Glen.

Lap 44 -- Danica Patrick retakes fourth place from Max Papis on the frontstretch, but then Papis goes right back around her for the position. Alex Kennedy spins in Turn 7.

Lap 43 -- Brad Sweet and Jason Bowles get turned around in Turn 12, but there's no caution. Michael McDowell slides past Ron Fellows for second place.

Lap 40 -- Ten laps to go. Michael McDowell is looking for a way around Danica Patrick. He gets position in Turn 5 to take over third place.

Lap 39 -- GREEN FLAG: Nelson Piquet Jr., Michael McDowell, Danica Patrick, Ron Fellows and Brian Scott are the leaders on the restart. Piquet gets a great jump, and is followed into second place by Patrick. Fellows also wrestles third place away from McDowell. Elliott Sadler gets turned around in traffic in Turn 5. He gets righted without bringing out the caution. Fellows takes second from Patrick.

Lap 38 -- Kurt Busch is on pit road. Justin Allgaier also makes it back in.

Lap 37 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 5: Justin Allgaier goes off course in Turn 5, where he gets stuck in the gravel trap. As he slides off the track, he makes contact with the left front of Kurt Busch's Toyota.

Lap 37 -- Kurt Busch and Ron Fellows drop Justin Allgaier back to sixth.

Lap 36 -- GREEN FLAG: Nelson Piquet Jr., Justin Allgaier, Michael McDowell, Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch are the leaders on the restart. McDowell sneaks past Allgaier for second place. Patrick takes third from Allgaier.

Lap 34 -- Sam Hornish Jr., Miguel Paludo, Jacques Villenueve, Max Papis, Brad Sweet and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are pitting. Just Allgaier stays on the track again.

Lap 33 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 4: T.J. Bell has spun off track again, this time in the carousel.

Lap 33 -- GREEN FLAG: Sam Hornish Jr., Justin Allgaier, Miguel Paludo and Danica Patrcik are the leaders on the restart. Hornish takes the lead, Paludo second. Jacques Villenueve spins in Turn 5 after contact from behind by Michael McDowell..

Lap 32 -- Most of the leaders are pitting Justin Allgaier and Sam Hornish Jr. stay on the track. Danica Patrick wins the race off pit road. Max Papis will have to come in again for removing equipment -- another gas-can issue -- from his pit stall.

Lap 31 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 3: Australian Kenny Habul has went off track in Turn 5.

Lap 31 -- Max Papis' car is showing some damage following an off-track excursion.

Lap 30 -- Fifth-place Cole Whitt has had a great race so far, but he's under fire right now from Kurt Busch for the spot. Twenty laps to go.

Lap 29 -- Ron Fellows is in third place, and he's really fast after the flat tire earlier in the race. This could get very interesting!

Lap 28 -- Jacques Villenueve's lead over Nelson Piquet Jr. is up to about 2.9 seconds.

Lap 26 -- Michael McDowell is also picking his way through traffic. He's ninth on the leaderboard. We reached the halfway point the last time around.

Lap 25 -- Kurt Busch is in sixth place, 3.5 seconds behind leader Jacques Villenueve. Max Papis is being told that they're going to make just one more stop ... and to save gas.

Lap 24 -- Jacques Villenueve is stretching out his lead. The top five are Villenueve, Nelson Piquet Jr., Ron Fellows, Danica Patrick and Cole Whitt.

Lap 22 -- Leader Miguel Paludo brings his car to pit road, handing the lead over to Jacques Villenueve. Villenueve has Nelson Piquet Jr. all over him for the top spot.

Lap 21 -- Danica Patrick takes the lead from Miguel Paludo, but gives it right back by going too hard into Turn 5. She drops to fourth. Timmy Hill spins in the same corner, but is able to right his car and keep going.

Lap 20 -- After stopping under the last caution, Michael McDowell is now shown in 19th place.

Lap 19 -- GREEN FLAG: Miguel Paludo and Danica Patrick are the leaders on the restart. Kurt Busch gets off track a little bit in one of the turns, but makes it right back onto the racing surface.

Lap 18 -- Max Papis, Michael McDowell, Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier and others pit under the caution.

Lap 17 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 2: There's debris on the frontstretch.

Lap 17 -- Max Papis has eased out to a lead of a couple of car lengths, but Michael McDowell isn't going anywhere. He's running a strong second right now.

Lap 16 -- GREEN FLAG: Michael McDowell and Max Papis lead the field to the restart. Papis takes the point going into Turn 3.

Lap 14 -- Brian Scott gives up the lead to pit. Ron Fellows and Austin Dillon are back in as well.

Lap 13 -- Danica Patrick Justin Allgaier, Cole Whitt, John Young, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jacques Villeneuve and others are on pit road. Brian Scott stays on the track. Allgaier has a water bottle stuck behind the pedals in the floor pan of his car.

Lap 12 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 1: T.J. Bell has looped his car in Turn 14. Danica Patrick took second place just before the caution.

Lap 12 -- Ron Fellows is in 12th place, about 50 seconds behind leader Brian Scott. Let's see if he can make a show out of this.

Lap 11 -- Brian Scott's lead over Justin Allgaier is about three seconds. Brad Sweet and Mike Wallace are pitting. In other news, a squirrel scampers across the track just behind the battle for second place between Justin Allgaier and Danic Patrick.

Lap 10 -- Danica Patrick is close on Justin Allgaier's bumper for second place. Ron Fellows finally makes it to pit road, with a flat left-front tire.

Lap 9 -- Ron Fellows has yet to pit. He's enjoying a lead of 3.8 seconds over Brian Scott. Wait a second ... Fellows is off the pace, and is giving up ground. Brian Scott goes to the lead!

Lap 8 -- Let's hope there's not a repeat of last year, when it took three green-white-checkered attempts to decide the race winner.

Lap 7 -- Danica Patrick is currently in fourth place, behind leader Ron Fellows, Brian Scott and Justin Allgaier.

Lap 6 -- Leader Michael McDowell and Nelson Piquet Jr. pull onto pit road. Max Papis, Elliott Sadler, Austin Dillon Miguel Paludo and other are also stopping.

Lap 5 -- Jacques Villeneuve is pitting. So is Kurt Busch.

Lap 4 -- Sam Hornish Jr. will be penalized for taking equipment out of his pit box after his gasman -- and gas can -- took a tumble following his stop the last time around.

Lap 3 -- Sam Hornish Jr. is pitting. Man, it's weird to be talking pit stops this early! Michael McDowell gets by Nelson Piquet Jr. for the lead going uphill to Turn 6. After starting from the rear of the field, Kurt Busch has already picked his way up to 17th place.

Lap 2 -- Michael Annett and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. move to pit road to top off their fuel supplies. Strategy, already. Michael McDowell tried looking for a way past Nelson Piquet Jr. for the lead early in the lap, but backed off.

Lap 1 -- GREEN FLAG: The race gets under way at 3:55 p.m. ET. Nelson Piquet Jr. gets the jump going into the first turn and comes away free and clear with the lead. Micahel McDowell takes over second place.

3:49 p.m. ET -- At more than four miles in length, it takes a little while to complete pace and caution laps here!

3:43 p.m. ET -- Cars are on the track for the start of the pace laps.

3:39 p.m. ET -- Kevin Delahunt gives the command to fire engines.

3:36 p.m. ET -- Matthew Bell -- who was already there -- Jeff Green, Jeremy Clements, Kurt Busch and Casey Roderick will all start from the rear of the field for unapproved adjustments to their race cars.

3:34 p.m. ET -- Four F-16s from the 115th Fighter Wing of the Wisconsin National Guard do the fly-over. Somebody has some pull somewhere to get someone a hop in one of those bad boys!

3:32 p.m. ET -- Christi Sadiq sings the national anthem.

3:31 p.m. ET -- Nick Terry of Motor Racing Outreach gives the command to fire engines. The colors are presented by the 357th Brigade Signal Company of the Wisconsin National Guard.

3:20 p.m. ET -- Never fear ... we have rain tires and windshield wipers this week!

3:04 p.m. ET -- Radar showed rain headed toward the track earlier, but it appears to have dissipated. Let's go!

2:45 p.m. ET -- Ten minutes until the start of driver introductions. The green flag is scheduled to fall at 3:52 p.m. ET.

12:38 p.m. ET -- Nelson Piquet Jr. is on the pole for the Sargento 200 at Road America, after turning in a lap at an average speed of 109.516 mph during qualifying. Michael McDowell will start second, followed by Ron Fellows, Jacques Villeneuve and Max Papis in the top five. Brian Scott, Justin Allgaier, Sam Hornish Jr., Miguel Paludo and Danica Patrick round out the top 10.

10:39 a.m. ET -- Qualifying is under way at Road America. Forty-three cars are entered, so everyone should come away with a starting spot.