Drivers to watch in NASCAR Cup Series race at Road America

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Nine races remain in the regular season and the race for the final playoff spots is intensifying.

Sunday’s Cup race at Road America (3 p.m. ET on USA) is one of three road course events remaining in the regular season. With differing pit strategy, a course that stretches more than 4 miles and plenty of twists and turns where trouble can occur, anything is possible.

FRONT RUNNERS

Ross Chastain

  • Points position: 2nd
  • Last three races: 5th at Nashville; 7th at Sonoma; 8th at Gateway
  • Past at Road America: 7th in 2021

Chastain had finished in the top 10 in both road course races this year. He won at Circuit of the Americas and placed seventh at Sonoma. He’s one of four drivers to finish in the top 10 in both those events this season — but the only one to have won one of those races.

Chase Elliott

  • Points position: 1st
  • Last three races: 1st at Nashville; 9th at Sonoma; 19th at Gateway
  • Past at Road America: 1st in 2021

The defending race winner comes into the weekend after his victory at Nashville Superspeedway. Elliott has top 10s in both road course races this year, placing fourth at Circuit of the Americas and eighth at Sonoma.

He’s won seven of the last 16 Cup road course races. Elliott has only three finishes outside the top 10 in the last 17 road course races. His average finish of 7.7 on road courses is the best among active drivers.

Ryan Blaney

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Last three races: 3rd at Nashville; 15th at Sonoma; 12th at Gateway
  • Past at Road America: 20th in 2021

Blaney has finished sixth in each of the first two road course races this year. He has top-10 finishes in the last four road course races, the longest active streak in the series.

 

QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

Martin Truex Jr.

  • Points position: 7th
  • Last three races: 22nd at Nashville; 4th at Sonoma; 33rd at Gateway
  • Past at Road America: 9th in 2021

Truex mistakingly came to pit road before the final caution instead of staying out and restarting on the front row with Chase Elliott last weekend at Nashville. Truex got stuck in the middle of the pack and finished 22nd.

He continues to seek his first series win this year. Truex did win both stages last week, so that is a step forward. A concern is how the Toyotas will run this weekend. Toyotas have led three laps in the two road course races this year. No Toyota finished better than 18th at Sonoma in the most recent road course race. Will the struggles continue for Truex and the other Toyota drivers?

Michael McDowell

  • Points position: 21st
  • Last three races: 13th at Nashville; 3rd at Sonoma; 18th at Gateway
  • Past at Road America: 30th in 2021

McDowell is known for his road racing background. Could he be the 13th different winner this season and create more anxiety among drivers without wins vying for a playoff spot?

McDowell has six top 10s this season, the most in his career. He was 13th at Circuit of the Americas and finished third at Sonoma, his best finish of the year.

Austin Cindric

  • Points position: 17th
  • Last three races: 7th at Nashville; 5th at Sonoma; 11th at Gateway
  • Past at Road America: 38th in 2021

The Daytona 500 winner is on his best three-race stretch of the season, which includes a top-five finish on the road course at Sonoma. Cindric has road racing experience and could be one to watch this weekend. He won the 2020 Xfinity race at Road America.