Independence Day weekend is a big occasion all across the country, specifically in the dairyland of Wisconsin where the Fourth of July means a celebration of American speed.
The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Elkhart Lake, Wis. Sunday for the Kwik Trip 250 at historic Road America. Situated between Milwaukee and Green Bay, this scenic road course stands at 4.048 miles in length and features a total of 14 turns, with everything from a long straightaways with steep elevation changes to a carousel of successive corners.
This race will mark the third time Road America has hosted a NASCAR Cup Series race, as the track returned to the schedule in 2021 after previously having been a stop on the tour in 1956.
How to Watch the NASCAR Cup Series at Road America
Date: Sunday, July 3
Location: Road America -- Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Time: 3 p.m. ET
TV: USA Network
Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
What to watch for
- Road course races during the 2022 season have been wide-open affairs: Ross Chastain put the bumper to A.J. Allmendinger to win at Circuit of the Americas, while Daniel Suarez outlasted both Chris Buescher and Michael McDowell to win at Sonoma Raceway Both were the first career wins for Chastain and Suarez, both changed the complexion of the playoff grid and both came behind the wheel of Trackhouse Racing cars. This weekend will go a long way in proving if Trackhouse is the new team to beat on road courses. Hendrick Motorsports showed some signs of that at Sonoma, as the first half of the race saw Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott take turns at the front of the field. Elliott is the defending winner at Road America, and he enters his race from a position of strength after winning last week at Nashville.
- Bubble watch is officially on for the NASCAR playoffs: Entering Road America, Kevin Harvick currently holds a nine point advantage over Aric Almirola for the final spot in the playoffs on points, a margin which is anything but safe considering the trends of the 2022 season. Of the drivers currently below the cutoff line for a playoff spot, none have ever won on a road course, which should be good news for Harvick. The problem is, that doesn't make any of them bad road racers or not a threat to go to Victory Lane: Michael McDowell, for instance, is currently in the midst of his best statistical season, finished third at Sonoma, and won an Xfinity Series race at Road America in 2016.
- On the surface, Chris Buescher should be entering Road America filled to the brim with confidence. His second-place run at Sonoma was his best finish since his lone Cup win at Pocono in 2016, and it was his second top three finish in the past three road course races. However, Buescher's chances of using a road course race to sneak onto the playoff grid took a major hit as the result of last week's race at Nashville. After a right rear wheel was left loose on a green flag pit stop, Buescher suffered a wheel failure with 46 laps to go at Nashville, taking him out of a potential top 15 run and relegating him to a 30th place finish. The incident resulted in crew chief Scott Graves, as well as two crewmembers, becoming the latest to be hit with a four-race suspension due to an improperly-installed wheel falling off.
- Of the drivers who has yet to secure a playoff spot but is above the cutoff line, the driver to watch this weekend may very well be Christopher Bell. Bell has consistently racked up top fives and top 10s since April, and Road America has become a very good track for the driver from Norman, Oklahoma: Bell won an Xfinity Series race at this track in 2019, and he also finished second in the Cup Series race here last summer. His first Cup win came on the Daytona Road Course in 2021, and his recent road course results include an eighth at the Charlotte Roval last fall and a third-place run at COTA earlier this year.
Pick to Win
(Odds via Caesars Sportsbook)
Daniel Suarez (+400): There's quite a few reasons to think Suarez can go back-to-back on road courses. For one, drivers who win on road courses tend to keep winning on road courses (see: Elliott, Chase), and Suarez has led the most laps (62) of any driver on road courses this season. Also, when I spoke with both Suarez and crew chief Travis Mack in the leadup to Nashville, it struck me how excited both of them were to get to Road America with their road course program considered.
Had he not suffered an early setback after winning Stage 1 at Circuit of the Americas, Suarez could very well be two-for-two on road courses at this point in the season. He'd take two-of-three, as it would make him the sixth driver this season to have two wins and virtually assure him a playoff spot no matter what happens the rest of the summer.