By David Morgan, Associate Editor
While the NASCAR Xfinity Series has been making the pilgrimage to Road America since 2010, it has been more than 64 years since the NASCAR Cup Series made its lone trip to the historic road course. All of that changes Sunday when the Jockey Made in America 250 takes the green flag.
One of several new venues on the 2021 Cup Series schedule, NASCAR’s best will finally get their chance to take on the 14-turn, 4.048-mile course weaving its way through the Wisconsin countryside.
“Since we welcomed the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2010, our fans have been asking for the NASCAR Cup Series, and we are very proud to make it happen on the Fourth of July,” Road America’s President and General Manager, Mike Kertscher said when the Cup Series date was announced last year.
“The weekend is going to be memorable and exciting for everyone as we celebrate Independence Day at America’s National Park of Speed. We encourage new and returning fans to get their tickets and campsites early because we intend to host four full days of on-track action. Our entire staff is excited to welcome the teams, drivers, and new visitors to show them that Road America is the ideal facility to come for the experience and stay for the race.”
Of the 40 drivers entered in Sunday’s race, 28 have previous experience at Road America from taking part in Xfinity Series events over the years. Among those drivers, AJ Allmendinger, Michael McDowell, Christopher Bell, and Austin Cindric have won at the track in recent years.
For those that have yet to make a start at Road America, Saturday’s Xfinity Series and Trans Am Series races are becoming popular to gain some additional track time ahead of Sunday’s Cup race.
“I’ve never been there before, so I’ll have a lot to learn, for sure,” said Kyle Busch. “A lot of the young guys have raced there before in the Xfinity Series, so they’ll probably have a little bit of an advantage just knowing the track a little bit better than I will.
“Getting some track time in the Xfinity car on Friday and Saturday is going to be very important. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so it will be nice to have some extra track time to work on my car and get some experience and also have just a little bit more knowledge of what it’s like beyond what we do in our (simulator) and other ways we prepare for races.”
Since Road America will be a new track for the Cup Series, practice and qualifying also returns this weekend, with practice on Saturday afternoon and qualifying taking place on Sunday morning ahead of the main event later in the day.
By the Numbers
What: Jockey Made in America 250 Presented by Kwik Trip, NASCAR Cup Series Race No. 20 of 36
Where: Road America – Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin (First race: 1956)
TV/Radio: NBC, 2:30 pm ET / MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Channel 90
Track Size: 14-turn, 4.048-mile road course
Race Length: 62 laps, 250 miles
Stage Lengths: Stage 1 – 14 laps/Stage 2 – 15 laps/Final stage – 33 laps
From the Driver’s Seat
“I love going to Road America,” said AJ Allmendinger. “I think it’s one of the most historic and best, pure road courses. It’s always a good atmosphere, and with the Cup race, it will be packed, which makes it a lot of fun. There are a lot of good passing opportunities at this track, so I’m excited to be running both the Xfinity and Cup races. I think they will be fantastic races, so I am looking forward to the weekend.”
From Atop the Pit Box
“I think being such a long track, a 4-mile track, I think the cool thing about it is that there are so many different corners,” said Jeremy Bullins, crew chief of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford. “There is the long straightaway with the big braking zone into 1. You have the kink in the back where you carry lots of speed. There is a good mix of corners and speed differentials. It is very similar in a sense to COTA. COTA had that as well. I think it creates a lot of interesting passing zones and should make for good racing. It was always a great Xfinity race. It is an older surface with some character and roughness in places and a lot of challenges you have to work through.”
Weekend Schedule (All Times Eastern)
Saturday, July 3
- NASCAR Cup Series Practice (12:35 pm to 1:25 pm – NBC Sports Network)
Sunday, July 4
- NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying (11:05 am – Two rounds/Multi-car qualifying – CNBC)
- Jockey Made in America 250 at Road America (2:30 pm – 62 laps, 250 miles – NBC)