Road America 101: Story lines, qualifying format, history and more

Wake up and smell the cheese curds, because the NASCAR Cup Series is returning to action at Road America for Independence Day weekend.

The high-speed, massive Wisconsin circuit will host NASCAR’s top division for the second straight year, and just the third time ever, with Sunday’s Kwik Trip 250 presented by Jockey Made in America (3 p.m. ET, USA Network, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM).

Nine races are left in the regular season as the hunt for the Cup Series Playoffs continues.

TUNING UP

Cup Series teams will use the practice and qualifying format for road courses for the third time this year, starting Saturday at 11:30 a.m. ET. The field will be split into two groups — A and B — with each group participating in its own 20-minute session.

That warm-up will be followed by first-round qualifying at 12:20 p.m. ET (USA, NBC Sports App, MRN). Group A and Group B will each qualify in 15-minute timed sessions. The fastest five drivers from each group will advance to the final round, making up the 10 drivers who will vie for the Busch Light Pole Award.

The fastest qualifier in the 10-minute final session will start first in Sunday’s 250-miler.

RELATED: See this week’s qualifying order | Weekend schedule | Cup Series standings 

NASCAR AT ROAD AMERICA

– Road America’s 4.048-mile circuit sits in the rolling hills of the Kettle Moraine area just south of the town center of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

2022 June29 Road America 2 Main Image
Alejandro Alvarez | NASCAR Digital Media

– The 14-turn circuit originally opened in 1955 for sports-car racing, and Phil Hill was its first winner in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) competition.

– NASCAR Grand National — now Cup Series — competition arrived at the track a year later. Hall of Famer Tim Flock won on a rain-soaked track, netting the last of his 39 big-league victories. Road America returned to the Cup Series schedule in 2021, in an event won by Chase Elliott.

– The NASCAR Xfinity Series has raced at Road America each year since 2010. The 12 races at the track have been won by 12 different drivers, and Kyle Busch is the most recent Xfinity winner there.

– Sunday’s 250-mile race is the third of six road-course events for the Cup Series this season.

Source: Racing Insights

MORE: Road America racing from 1956

GOODYEAR TIRES

Cup Series teams will use the same tire that appeared earlier this season at Circuit of The Americas, but with a special distinction. The COTA tire code was marked D-5112, which will run on the left-front and right-rear of cars at Road America. The right-front/left-rear setup will be the same tire but with a different code (D-5113) to mark it for that mounting position and the directional stress points from those areas. The different codes also provide a cue for teams to know which corner to mount each tire.

“The reason why we have the two codes for the same tire on these road courses is that the directional mounting helps protect the beveled splice of the tread component,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear director of racing. “This insures that the tread splice is closed under the force of braking on both front tires and closed under the force of acceleration on both rear tires. Since all the tires are the same size, the two codes make sure teams know which corner of the car the tire is designed for as they make up their race sets.”

Teams will be allotted one set of tires for practice, one for qualifying and a maximum of six sets for the race (five sets, plus one transferred from qualifying, if applicable). Goodyear will also have wet-weather tires on hand should the conditions become rainy at Road America. The same tire limits apply for wet-weather tires and the dry racing slicks.

ROAD AMERICA STORY LINES 

— Trackhouse Racing aims to make it 3-for-3 in road-course events this year. In winning the previous two, both drivers and crew chiefs scored their first Cup Series wins — Ross Chastain and crew chief Phil Surgen at Circuit of The Americas; Daniel Suárez and crew chief Travis Mack at Sonoma Raceway.

— Reigning Cup Series champ Kyle Larson won three times on road courses last season. He is seeking his first road-racing top 10 this year.

— Ryan Blaney holds the longest active streak of top-10 finishes on road circuits — four straight dating back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road layout last season.

— Chase Elliott has won seven of the Cup Series’ last 16 road course events. That includes his win in last year’s Road America event, when he drove from the 34th starting spot to victory — the worst starting position for a road-course winner in series history.

— Hendrick Motorsports has nine wins in the Cup Series’ last 13 road-course races.

— Michael McDowell, a former Road America winner in the Xfinity Series, has six top-10 finishes so far this season — his most in a single year.

Source: Racing Insights

BEST OF THE BUNCH

The sample size for Road America races in the Cup Series is small, and Sunday’s race will be just the third race for the new Next Gen car on a road circuit.

No matter the generation of stock car, Chase Elliott remains BetMGM’s pre-race favorite at 9-2 opening odds. Elliott prevailed in last year’s Road America event and comes in hot as last week’s winner at Nashville Superspeedway.

Teammate Kyle Larson’s strength as a three-time road-racing winner last season sets him as the second pick at 7-1. Ross Chastain, a two-time winner this year, checks in as an 8-1 selection for the second consecutive week.

Joe Gibbs Racing enters Road America hoping for a rebound with its road-course fortunes, and three of its drivers — Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. — set off at 12-1, joined by the road-savvy AJ Allmendinger. Christopher Bell — the fourth JGR driver and last year’s Road America runner-up — is among five drivers at 14-1.

RELATED: Betting odds for Road America


FANTASY LIVE

Want to manage a team and race your way to the top of the leaderboards? Check out NASCAR Fantasy Live, which is open now. The free-to-play game lets you choose your drivers each week and show off your crew-chief instincts by garaging a driver by the end of Stage 3, and there is a $25,000 prize for the winner.

The 2022 Fantasy Live points leaders are Chase Elliott (580), Ryan Blaney (547) and Ross Chastain (545).

MORE: How to play: Fantasy Live | Get in the game; start a team!

ALSO ON NASCAR.COM

Get additional camera views by logging on to NASCAR Drive, where each week a select number of in-car cameras will be available — as well as a battle cam and an overhead look.

NASCAR has partnered with LiveLike to add fan engagement in the NASCAR Mobile App. Log in to the mobile app during the race for polls, quizzes, the cheer meter and more — and see instant results from NASCAR fans like you.