Making his return to NASCAR, Hall of Famer Bill Elliott (105.791) posted the 26th fastest time.
Last year’s winner, Jeremy Clements had a left front tire go flat in turn five 20 minutes into final practice and brought out a red flag.
Kaz Grala and Brian Henderson had off-course excursions in Canada Corner.
After driving off course in the rain in practice one, Tyler Reddick spun with Katherine Legge in Turn 5 with 50 minutes remaining in the session. Both drivers returned to the pits under their own power. Reddick had damage on the right front; Legge had damage on the left rear.
Legge (106.524) ended the session 23rd on the chart.
Wet conditions kept most of the competitors off track in the first practice session.
Rookies Reddick and Conor Daly were the only two drivers to take to the track.
Reddick made several laps practicing his entry onto pit road. Only one circuit was completed at speed (152.280).
Midway through the session, Reddick had an off-course excursion.
“Got a little wheel hop in the brakes and as soon as I tried to go down into the next gear, it went into neutral and didn’t catch third,” Reddick said on the NBCSN Sports App. “At that point, just hoping that when I hit the sand pit it wouldn’t do too bad a damage, but unfortunately it tore the splitter up pretty bad. “
Preliminary entry lists for Road America, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
The Cup Series is enjoying its final off-week of the 2018 season. That leaves the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series to enjoy the spotlight.
Both series will be on their own, competing on different road courses. Xfinity teams return to Road America near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The Truck Series travels to Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, to race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Here are the entry lists for both races.
Xfinity – Johnsonville 180 (3 p.m. ET on Saturday on NBCSN)
There are 41 entries for the race, including Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, who will drive GMS Racing’s No. 23 Chevrolet in his first NASCAR start since 2012.
James Davison is entered in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota, making his second consecutive start for the team at Road America.
IndyCar driver Conor Daly will attempt to make his NASCAR debut in Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 Ford.
Last year, Jeremy Clements was the surprise upset, scoring his first career NASCAR win.
NASCAR has canceled qualifying for the Johnsonville 180 at Road America due to the odd situation of there not being enough rain. The starting lineup for the Xfinity Series race will be set by owner points.
That gives Team Penske driver Austin Cindric the pole in his first start in the series. Joe Gibbs Racing’s James Davison will start second.
The field was going to be established by a single 25-minute session with teams using rain tires. The session was set to begin at 11:45 a.m. ET, but NASCAR went into a holding pattern waiting for rain to cover more of the track. It called off qualifying just before 12:30 p.m.
It would appear that Australian driver James Davison is getting the hang of NASCAR racing — at least on road courses, that is — pretty quick.
Davison was fastest in Saturday’s final Xfinity Series practice at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, recording a top speed of 108.691 mph in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry.
Davison, who turns 31 years old on Tuesday, will compete in only his third NASCAR Xfinity race in Sunday’s Johnsonville 180. In his two previous Xfinity career starts, he finished 19th at Road America last year and was fourth two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The scheduled 55-minute practice session ended about five minutes early when the red flag came out for a full course stoppage when 24-year-old Elkhart Lake native Nicolas Hammann spun into and got mired in a sand trap coming off Turn 3.
Qualifying takes place Sunday morning at 11:45 a.m. ET, with the race slated to take the green flag at approximately 3:14 p.m. ET. The race will be televised live on NBC.
Not even James Davison, growing up in Melbourne, Australia, could escape its reach.
The movie which proclaimed that “rubbin, son, is racin’,” was the first exposure to NASCAR for the 30-year-old driver.
“It was obviously incredible inspiring,” Davison told NBC Sports. “When you think this Cole Trickle character was,an IndyCar driver, came from the Indy ranks over to NASCAR, it’s obviously exactly what I’m doing. … It would be pretty amazing to achieve winning in NASCAR when as a kid it was just a movie. Like a dream that’s never going to happen really in my life. I’d never been to America before and NASCAR’s so huge and the drivers are so famous and all that stuff. Now here I find myself racing NASCAR.”
Davison, who has made three starts in the Indianapolis 500 since 2014, will pilot Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota this weekend when the Xfinity Series travels to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
It will be his third NASCAR start in two years after making his debut last season at Road America in the No. 90 owned by Mario Gosselin.
Unlike Cole Trickle, who got to test the best fictional equipment NASCAR had to offer before getting to race, Davison parachuted into Road America and had a crash course in stock cars with the underfunded team before making his debut.
“I was told straight up we were going to qualify somewhere between 10th and 20th, that’s what the car had,” Davison said. “We were going to be 50 horsepower down. We were going to be lacking compared to all the big, top teams. … These small teams’ budgets are like 20 percent of the big teams. I then had to swallow my pride and do the best I could with what I had.”
On a track he’s won at in Star Mazda and the Pirelli World Challenge, Davison qualified 18th and finished 19th. Three months later, during NASCAR’s race weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he had initial talks with JGR about a potential ride this season.
Now, after finishing fourth at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago, Davison says “NASCAR very much fits me like a glove.”
Though he crashed out of the race on Lap 183, Davison was able to lead two laps. The personal achievement was not lost on Indianapolis Motor Speedway president J. Douglas Boles, who sent Davison a note about it the next month.
“It hasn’t really sunk in because you’re so caught up in the moment,” Davison said. “To think there’s 10s of millions of people watching and you’re one of 33 in the race and then you’re fortunate enough to find yourself leading it, regardless of how hard you work or how deserving you are and all that stuff, you are privileged.”
But without a major sponsor to back his open-wheel racing aspirations, Davison has “resigned” himself to only driving in the Indy 500 when it comes to IndyCar. Davison now sees stock car racing as the best chance for him to establish himself.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity,” Davison says. “It’s where I want to be.”
Davison got his first taste of what NASCAR could provide him not at Road America last year, but in 2012, in a late-model race in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
“That was for sure a culture shock,” Davison said. “I’ve been living in America for 12-and-half years and that was something else. The terminology they use and their accent is very hard to understand on the radio, but a great experience.”
The race came when Davison was living in Charlotte for two months with Nelson Piquet Jr. and “first looking at NASCAR,” but when he had “no profile or sponsorship support” behind him.
“I had no career breaks forthcoming and I literally would drive anything,” Davison said.
Now everything that resulted from that race has led to Davison getting his second NASCAR start of the year with the best team in the Xfinity Series. The Australian has spent just over 10 days with JGR over the last month preparing for the races at Mid-Ohio and Road America.
In that time, he’s bonded with his team by exchanging Days of Thunder quotes and getting laughs with his best impression of a southern accent. He’s also had multiple visits to a simulator for a virtual visit to Road America.
“It’s just doing what I need to do to make sure all the prep is done as well as possible and I fit in the car and building some chemistry up with the team,” Davison said.
Confident in his abilities, Davison said he has avoided seeking much advice from other drivers.
“I haven’t leaned on anyone,” Davison said. “I’m very much just (studying) myself, watching onboard videos and chatting with my engineer. I’ve become friendly with some of the other guys, like Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier. Had a good chat with (Sam) Hornish (Jr.). It’s very much every man for them self. … I’ve driven in NASCAR at Road America last year, so I knew what to expect for the most part.”
If he were to visit victory lane on Sunday, there’s little doubt it would be the biggest career achievement for the man who first experienced the thrills of NASCAR through Cole Trickle.
Adding to the occasion: Davison’s No. 20 Toyota will have Trickle’s Mello Yello paint scheme from the climactic Daytona race in Days of Thunder.