NASCAR XFINITY Series Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville Preview



Next Race: Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville

The Place: Road America

The Date: Saturday, Aug. 29

The Time: 3 p.m. (ET)

TV: NBCSN, 2:30 p.m. (ET)

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM Ch. 90

Distance: 182.16 miles (45 laps)


Points Tighten as Dillon Capitalizes on Buescher’s Fuel Mileage Mistake at Bristol

When Chris Buescher’s Roush Fenway Racing Ford faltered on the front row of the green-white-checkered restart last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, the points leader faded to an 11th-place finish, as championship contender Ty Dillon motored to a third-place showing, closing the standings lead gap between first and second to 19 points.

Buescher was visibly upset about finishing outside the top-ten; his sixth in the last eight races.

“It’s unfortunate. I’m really upset,” Buescher said. “We had the speed, but it wasn’t meant to be.  I’m glad we took the chance. I wouldn’t change it if we could do it over again, but unfortunately it (gamble on fuel) knocked us right out of a top-ten and out of a win.”

Dillon who jumped to second in the standings and closed the gap on the points lead to just 19, sang a different tune.

“This race was an overall great points day for us,” said Ty Dillon after posting his seventh top five of the season and qualifying for the final round of the XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash next week at Darlington.

On Saturday, the series heads to Road America in Plymouth, Wisconsin for the Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville – the third and last road course race on the XFINITY Series schedule. Buescher’s slide could continue as he struggled in his only start at Road America last season. He started ninth but finished 18th. Dillon also had a negative place differential at Road America in his series track début last season starting seventh but finishing 19th.

“Road America is a very difficult and unique road course,” Buescher said. “I love road racing and look forward to the challenge.”

On a high note, Dillon and Buescher are the only two drivers who have top-five finishes in the previous two road course races this season.

Wisconsin Native Paul Menard Moonlighting in XFINITY Series this Weekend

While most of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers are enjoying their last off weekend of the 2015 season, Eau Claire, Wisconsin native Paul Menard is strapping into the Richard Childress Racing No. 33 Chevrolet for the Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville on Saturday.

Menard has made five series starts this season in the No. 33 Chevrolet posting one top-five, four top-tens and an average finish of 8.6. His season-to-date driver rating is 107.7.

Menard has made one series start at Road America in 2010, driving for car owner Jack Roush; he started eighth and finished 16th.

Menard’s hometown of Eau Claire is almost four hours, 232 miles northwest from Road America in Plymouth, Wisconsin.

Odds are Road America’s Streak of Different Winners Continues 

In the last five XFINITY Series races at Road America there have been five different winners, and since only one of the former winners – Brendan Gaughan – is racing, odds are we will see a sixth this weekend in the Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville.  The odds of a repeat winner this weekend are a 1 in 40 chance or 2.5%-meaning there is a 97.5% chance for a sixth different winner.

The five former Road America winners are Carl Edwards in 2010, Reed Sorenson in 2011, Nelson Piquet Jr. in 2012, AJ Allmendinger in 2013 and Brendan Gaughan in 2014.

Two drivers to watch this weekend who might become the sixth different winner at Road America are Chase Elliott and Elliott Sadler.

Chase Elliott is now third in points and looking for his first win of the season. Elliott has only made one start at Road America in 2014, starting 12th and finishing fourth. In 2015, Elliott has an average finish of sixth on road courses – third-best among championship contenders.

Sadler is now fifth in the points and looking for his first win of the season. Sadler with an average finish of 9.2 and Gaughan are the only two drivers with more than one start at Road America and both have an average finish inside the top-ten. Sadler has finished ninth at Road America the last two seasons.

Though the odds are against him, don’t count out Gaughan just yet, he can become the first driver with repeat victories at Road America this weekend. Among active drivers with more than one start at Road America he has the best average finish at 5.0. In three starts at Road America, Gaughan has posted one win, which is his first XFINITY Series victory and two top-fives.

Sunoco Rookie Update:

Suarez’s Hot Streak Continues With Dash 4 Cash Prize

Daniel Suarez is so hot he sizzles these days. Not only does the Monterrey, Mexico native lead the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings by 27 points over second-place Darrell Wallace Jr., but he also padded his wallet this past weekend when he took home the $100,000 cash prize from the third round of the XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash program. The Dash 4 Cash win automatically qualifies Suarez to compete in the last round of the program at Darlington as well.

“I didn’t win it (Dash 4 Cash prize), we won it,” Suarez said. “We are a great team. Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing – all these guys who help to put this program together, I’m very, very thankful for them. All the hard work looks like it’s paying off. I’m very happy.”

In 22 starts this season, Suarez has posted two Coors Light poles, five top-fives, ten top-tens and an average finish of 12.6.

This is Suarez’s series track début at Road America this weekend.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings following Bristol: Daniel Suarez (232), Darrell Wallace Jr (205), Ross Chastain (159), Cale Conley (141), Harrison Rhodes (125), Peyton Sellers (97), Josh Reaume (55).

Dylan Kwasniewski Making Most of Obaika Racing Opportunity

The first year team, Obaika Racing, owned by African businessman Victor Obaika has fielded the No. 97 Chevrolet this season with four different drivers – Peyton Sellers, Johanna Long, Josh Reaume and this weekend Dylan Kwasniewski.

Kwasniewski competed full-time last season for Turner Motorsports but was not resigned for the 2015 season.  Kwasniewski earned his chance at a seat last season with Turner after he became the first driver to win back-to-back NASCAR K&N Pro Series championships including both the West in 2012 and the East in 2013.

Kwasniewski has made two previous starts for Obaika Racing this season posting a best finish of 32nd last weekend at Bristol. He has made one XFINITY Series career start at Road America, which was last season when he started second but finished 26th.

Third Time’s a Charm:

Road America, Site of Final Road Course on the Schedule

The third and last road course on the XFINITY Series schedule is this weekend. The four-mile multi-elevation track holds fourteen turns to challenge the drivers this weekend in the Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville.

The first two road courses have brought lots of action and this weekend will bring more of the same. In one lap a driver will experience around 171 feet in elevation changes.

Road America is a track of firsts. Three drivers have posted their first XFINITY Series career Coors Light pole at Road America: Michael McDowell in 2011, Nelson Piquet Jr. in 2012, and AJ Allmendinger in 2013. Three drivers have also posted their first XFINITY Series career win at Road America: Nelson Piquet Jr. in 2012, AJ Allmendinger in 2013 and Brendan Gaughan in 2014.

Qualifying will be very important for the competitors this weekend because three of the five XFINITY Series Road America races (60%) found victory lane from the Coors Light pole. The deepest a Road America winner has started is 12th-place – Reed Sorenson, in 2011.

Road America has a streak of five different winners, as well as five different series Coors Light pole winners: Carl Edwards in 2010, Michael McDowell in 2011, Nelson Piquet Jr. in 2012, AJ Allmendinger in 2013 and Alex Tagliani in 2014.  None of the previous five pole winners are racing the Wisconsin road course this weekend.

NASCAR In Wisconsin

There have been 40 NASCAR national series races – the Sprint Cup with one, XFINITY with 24 and Camping World Trucks with 15 – among two tracks; Road America with six races and the Milwaukee Mile with 34 races in the state of Wisconsin. The first time NASCAR competed in Wisconsin was the Sprint Cup Series race at Road America in 1956, the event Tim Flock won at 73.858 mph, and with a 03:29:50 second lead. The first XFINITY Series race held in Wisconsin was at the Milwaukee Mile in 1984, and winning the event was Sam Ard at 97.206 mph, with a 02:03:26 second lead over second. The first race at Road America for the XFINITY Series was in 2010 and won by Carl Edwards at 68.501 mph, with a 02:57:17 seconds lead. One-hundred fourteen different drivers have competed in the XFINITY Series at Road America, and 52 have participated in more than one race. Brian Scott, Eric McClure and Mike Bliss are the only three drivers who have competed in all five XFINITY Series races at Road America.

Drivers From Wisconsin

A total of 49 drivers have competed in a NASCAR national series race with their home state recorded as Wisconsin. Of the 49 Wisconsin drivers, 30 have competed in the XFINITY Series. Of the 30, only five have won in the XFINITY Series: Matt Kenseth with 29, Scott Wimmer with six, Johnny Sauter with three, Paul Menard and Dick Trickle with two.

Said and Habul Return For Joe Gibbs Racing

They’re back and ready for Road America. For the third time this season Joe Gibbs Racing is calling on the road course skills of veterans Boris Said and Kenny Habul. Said is piloting the No. 54 Toyota and Habul is taking the wheel of No. 20 Toyota.

Milestones Watch 

Chase Elliott will attempt to post his 25th career top-five XFINITY Series finish this weekend. Elliott is now tied with Dick Trickle, Rob Moroso and Trevor Bayne for 68th on the all-time XFINITY Series top-fives list.