The NASCAR Cup Series will celebrate the Fourth of July with a special trip to a new track. The top drivers in stock car racing will take on Road America in Wisconsin for only the second time since 1956. The road course will present a new challenge for the Cup cars, but there are several drivers with experience at the “unforgiving” track due to past Xfinity Series races.
Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick is one of the few that has competed at Road America in the past. He has made two starts on the road course with vastly different levels of success. Mechanical issues in 2018 relegated Reddick to a 34th-place finish, but he rebounded and took third overall in 2019 while Christopher Bell captured the checkered flag. Now he will strive to find success in a Cup Series car for the first time.
“Those that have gotten to experience [Road America] — those Xfinity drivers that are now Cup drivers, I guess, like my situation or some of the others out there that ran it years prior — understand how unforgiving of a place it can be,” Reddick told media members during a press conference that Heavy attended.
Reddick continued and explained that the track is very narrow and fast, which intimidated him the first time he competed. The RCR driver also explained that there will be some wild moments, especially as aggressive drivers push the limits of their stock cars in the corners.
Michael McDowell Has Previous Success at Road America
There are multiple Cup Series drivers with past success at Road America. Bell, the winner of the Daytona Road Course race in February, is among this group. He previously captured a win at Road America and will try to repeat this feat in a Cup Series car.
Similarly, Front Row Motorsports driver Michael McDowell has performed consistently on two types of tracks — superspeedways and road courses. He won the Daytona 500 and then finished eighth at the Daytona Road Course. McDowell then added a third-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway and a seventh-place finish at Circuit of the Americas.
The driver of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford Mustang will now head to Road America, a place where he captured the checkered flag. He has five starts at the Wisconsin road course in his career and two top-five finishes. McDowell took second at the track in 2012 and then captured the checkered flag in 2016 after leading 24 laps.
“The schedule we knew was going to be more favorable for us with more road courses and, obviously, superspeedways have been a strength of ours for several years,” McDowell told Heavy during a May media availability. “We knew this was an opportunity year with as many road courses are there is, and we feel like we’ve done a good job with scoring points and managing the season knowing that we have some really good tracks coming up in the schedule.”
The Xfinity Series Has Only Raced at Road America 11 Times
As Reddick explained, there aren’t many Cup Series drivers with experience at Road America. The reason is that the Xfinity Series only has 11 races at the unique road course, starting in 2010 and running through 2020. Retired driver Carl Edwards captured the first-ever Xfinity Series race at the track while Team Penske’s Austin Cindric most recently won.
McDowell and Reddick will have the opportunity to showcase their experience at the road course, as will Brad Keselowski, Matt DiBenedetto, Ross Chastain, and Ryan Blaney. However, they will have to contend with the defending Cup Series champion.
Known as the road course expert, Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott will inevitably enter the Fourth of July weekend as one of the favorites to take the checkered flag at Road America. The driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro only has two starts at the track during his Xfinity Series career, but he impressed during each outing.
Elliott drove the No. 9 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports in 2014 and 2015, finishing fourth overall during both trips to Road America. Since moving to the Cup Series, he has only continued to perform at a high level in road course races. Elliott has six career wins, only three shy of Jeff Gordon’s all-time record.