Key storylines for Road America


Road America is not new to the NASCAR Cup Series landscape, although you’ll be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

The 4-mile road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin hosted its lone Cup race on Aug. 12, 1956. Tim Flock won out over a field that included many of stock car racing’s important pioneers, including Fireball Roberts, Lee Petty, Buck Baker, Curtis Turner and Junior Johnson.

Less than 10,000 fans attended that weekend. Back then, NASCAR was a primarily Southern tradition.

Nearly 65 years later, as the sport’s premier division returns to the Wisconsin woods, it has become something much bigger.

Naturally, a much bigger crowd will be watching – both at the track and at home on NBC (Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET).

Kings of the road

Kyle Busch snapped Hendrick Motorsports’ six-race win streak in last Sunday’s fuel duel at Pocono. But as Busch himself admitted, the Hendrick cars were still faster.

That performance has been especially pronounced on road courses. Hendrick has won six of the last seven road course races dating back to the 2019 race at Watkins Glen.

Reigning Cup Series champion Chase Elliott has five of those wins, including his lone victory of 2021 in the rain-shortened inaugural race at Circuit of the Americas.

Teammate Kyle Larson swept both stages and won in overtime in the most recent road course race at Sonoma Raceway earlier this month.

Alex Bowman, who won last Saturday’s race at Pocono after Larson blew a tire while leading on the final lap, hasn’t been bad on road courses, either. He’s posted top-10 finishes in his last four road course races.

The only Hendrick driver who hasn’t excelled on road courses this season is William Byron. While his 14 top-10 finishes are tied with Larson and Kevin Harvick for most in Cup, none have come on a road course. He’s finished 33rd at Daytona, 11th at COTA, and crashed out at Sonoma.

A winding path to the playoffs

Road America is the first of three road course races in the final seven races of the Cup regular season.

The series will return from the Olympic break with back-to-back road course races on Aug. 8 at Watkins Glen and Aug. 15 at Indianapolis, the latter being a new layout for Cup.

Those plus the Aug. 28 regular season finale on the oval at Daytona provide ample opportunities for someone outside the playoff cutline to change the post-season picture entirely with a victory.

Entering Road America, Kurt Busch holds the 16th and final playoff position by three points over Chris Buescher. Daniel Suarez (-48 behind Busch), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-54 behind Busch) and Bubba Wallace (-54 behind Busch) follow in 18th, 19th, and 20th in the playoff standings.

All five of those drivers have at least one top-10 finish in Xfinity competition at Road America. Suarez has the best finish of the group, placing fourth in the 2016 Xfinity race on his way to that year’s series title.

Behind them in the standings are Matt DiBenedetto in 21st (-60 behind Busch) and Ross Chastain in 22nd (-72 behind Busch).

Pocono was not kind to either. DiBenedetto finished 32nd and 18th in the doubleheader, while Chastain finished 33rd and 26th.

DiBenedetto has finished 18th or worse in the last eight races. Chastain’s momentum was zapped last weekend. Both need a big result Sunday.

Getting the reps

Back to the aforementioned Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick. The two former Cup champions have never competed at Road America in any series.

As such, they’ll be double-dipping this weekend. In addition to Sunday’s Cup race, they’ll also run Saturday’s Xfinity Series race (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC).

Busch has been a perfect three-for-three in Xfinity competition this season. In his most recent Xfinity start, he claimed his 100th series win on June 19 at Nashville Superspeedway.

He’ll be back in the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, leading a five-car JGR armada for Saturday. Along with Busch and Xfinity regulars Daniel Hemric, Harrison Burton and Brandon Jones, Ty Gibbs will drive a fifth JGR entry, the No. 81.

“Being able to come to a new track – when everything was announced that we were coming here – I wanted to run there as much as I could,” Busch said earlier this week.

“We were able to work it out so both myself and Ty (Gibbs) can run here, as well, so I think it’s beneficial for both of us. He loves road racing, too.

“It was kind of a perfect scenario – being able to get in the Xfinity Series and be able to practice in both of those races. I’m hoping it will be a really good weekend for us.”

As for Harvick, he’ll drive the No. 99 Ford for B.J. McLeod Motorsports in Saturday’s Xfinity race. Harvick ran a McLeod entry for the Xfinity race at COTA, finishing fourth.

“I’m a huge visual person,” Harvick said earlier this week. “The experience I have in going to these racetracks for a long time – I can tell you every crack, every curve and every marker on the wall, and those are the things I want to have embedded in my mind before we get to Sunday.

“I want to make sure we’ve hit most of the curbs and know where you can take a risk making a pass and where to make time and how to get on and off pit road in a live situation, because the practices are short.

“The Xfinity car is going to be the best tool, and just being able to make laps is the most important thing.”

NASCAR suspends Chase Elliott one race for incident with Denny Hamlin


NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one Cup race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600, the sanctioning body announced Tuesday.

“We take this very seriously,” Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition, said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The incident that happened off Turn 4, again after looking at all the available resources — in-car camera, data, SMT, which basically gives us (a car’s) steering, throttle, gives us braking — it was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion.”

Hendrick Motorsports stated that it would not appeal the penalty. Corey LaJoie will drive the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway. Carson Hocevar will drive LaJoie’s car this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports also stated that it would submit a waiver request for Elliott to remain eligible for the playoffs. Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “I don’t see any reason at this point in time why wouldn’t (grant the waiver) when that request comes across our desk.”

This weekend will mark the seventh race in the first 15 that Elliott will have missed. He missed six races after breaking his leg in a snowboarding accident in early March. Elliott, who is winless this season, is 29th in points.

Elliott and Hamlin got together shortly before the halfway mark in Monday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As they ran together, Hamlin forced Elliott toward the wall. Elliott’s car slapped the wall. Elliott then made contact with the right rear of Hamlin’s car, sending Hamlin into the wall.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said after the incident. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Said Sawyer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “In the heat of the battle, things happen, but they have to learn to react in a different way. … Our drivers need to understand that you have to handle that in a completely different way than hooking someone in the right rear and putting them in harm’s way, not only with just a major head-on collision like Denny had, but also other competitors.”

Sawyer also said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “nothing gave us the indication that on that particular contact with the fourth-turn wall … that anything was broke” on Elliott’s car and could have caused him to come down and hit Hamlin’s car in the right rear.

NASCAR also announced that Scott Brzozowski and Adam Lewis, crew members on Michael McDowell‘s team, had each been suspended two races after McDowell’s car lost a tire in Monday’s race.

Winners and losers at Charlotte Motor Speedway


A look at winners and losers from Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:


Ryan Blaney — Blaney stopped his winless streak at 59 races and gave team owner Roger Penske his second major race victory in two days. Blaney had the best car but had to fight through restarts late in the race to win.

William Byron — Byron, the winningest driver this season, barely missed getting victory No. 4. He finished second and scored his fifth straight top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. — Truex logged his third top five of the season.

23XI RacingBubba Wallace was fourth and Tyler Reddick fifth, giving 23XI Racing a pair of top-five finishes for the first time in a points race.


Jimmie Johnson — The seven-time champion admitted having problems adjusting to the Next Gen car on a 1.5-mile track. He crashed early and finished last.

Legacy Motor Club — It was a bad night for Jimmie Johnson and his team’s drivers. Johnson finished last in the 37-car field. Noah Gragson was 36th. Erik Jones placed 32nd.

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin — Two drivers who had strong cars didn’t make it to the finish after crashing near the halfway point. Hamlin said Elliott “shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series results: Justin Allgaier wins at Charlotte


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier finally broke through for his first win of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season Monday night.

Allgaier stretched his last fuel load over the final laps to finish in front of John Hunter Nemechek. Cole Custer was third, Austin Hill fourth and Ty Gibbs fifth. Gibbs ran both races Monday, completing 900 miles.

The win also was the first of the season for JR Motorsports.

Charlotte Xfinity results

Xfinity points after Charlotte

Justin Allgaier wins NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won a fuel-mileage gamble to win Monday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Allgaier stretched his fuel to outlast second-place John Hunter Nemechek. Following in the top five were Cole Custer, Austin Hill and Ty Gibbs.

The victory was Allgaier’s first of the year and the first of the season for JR Motorsports. He has 20 career wins.

MORE: Charlotte Xfinity results

After a long day at CMS, the race ended at 11:25 p.m. The race started Monday morning but was stopped twice because of weather before it was halted with 48 of 200 laps completed so that the Coca-Cola 600 Cup Series race could be run.

When the race was stopped, Gibbs, Nemechek and Allgaier were in the top three positions.

Gibbs won the first two stages.

Stage 1 winner: Ty Gibbs

Stage 2 winner: Ty Gibbs

Who had a good race: Justin Allgaier has had good cars in previous races but finally cashed in with a win Monday. He led 83 laps. … John Hunter Nemechek, in second, scored his fifth top-two run of the season. … Cole Custer scored his sixth straight top-10 finish. … Ty Gibbs lasted 900 miles for the day and led 52 laps in the Xfinity race.

Who had a bad race: Sam Mayer was running 10th when he spun off Turn 2. He finished 35th. … Sheldon Creed finished three laps down in 28th.

Next: The series moves on to Portland International Raceway in Oregon for a 4:30 p.m. ET race June 3.