What to Watch: Full guide for Road America

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Jockey Made in America 250 Presented by Kwik Trip at Road America (⏰ 2:30 p.m. ET | 📺 NBC | 📻 MRN, SiriusXM)

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s Cup Series race at Road America and 20th points-paying event of the season.

Where: Road America, a 4.048-mile road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Green flag time of race: 2:40 p.m. ET
Saturday at 12:35 p.m. ET on NBCSN | 50-minute open session
Qualifying: Sunday at 11:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN | Group qualifying
TV/Radio: NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Forecast: Mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 92. Heat index values as high as 95. Southwest wind 10 to 15 mph
Race Distance: 62 laps, 250 miles
Stages: 14 | 29 | 62
Pit-road speed: 40 mph
Caution car speed: 45 mph
Honorary starter: Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers running back
Road America 101: Get the full lowdown
Entry list: See who’s in the field
Pit-stall assignments: See who is pitting where | Explaining backward pit stops at Road America

Aara 8
Aara 8

Five to watch

Here are five big story lines we’ll be following at Road America.

1. Although Hendrick Motorsports stumbled a tad compared to their recent streak during the Pocono Raceway doubleheader, it’s highly unlikely that all four drivers won’t be in the running for victory on Sunday. Chase Elliott is NASCAR’s newest road-course king, but Kyle Larson is right there to pounce. Elliott and Larson have finished 1-2 the past two road-course races, with Elliott winning at Circuit of The Americas, while Larson held off his fellow teammate for the Sonoma Raceway win. Alex Bowman has top 10s in all three road-course races so far this season, while three of William Byron’s five finishes outside the top 10 this season have come on road courses.

2. There are four Cup Series drivers in the field this weekend that have won Xfinity Series races at Road America — AJ Allmendinger, Christopher Bell, Austin Cindric and Michael McDowell. Among those drivers, Allmendinger and Bell have seen the most success during Cup Series road-course races this season. Bell won at the Daytona Road Course, while Allmendinger finished seventh at Daytona RC and fifth at Circuit of The Americas. All four could be poised to steal the show on Sunday. McDowell does have top 10s in two of the three road races this season.

3. With seven races to go in the regular season, three drivers have gained a substantial amount of points over the last four races on the playoff cutline. Kurt Busch has gained 86 points on the bubble over the last four races and is three points above the cutline, Daniel Suarez has gained 54 points and is 48 points back on the cutline. Bubba Wallace has gained 41 points over last four races and is 54 points below the bubble.

4. On the top side of the spectrum, the race for the regular-season championship is heating up between Larson and Denny Hamlin. Over 140 points sat between both drivers in the regular-season standings after the Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway on May 9. But in the seven races since, Hamlin now just holds a two-point lead on the Cup Series’ hottest driver. Larson has won four races this season so far, while the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team of Hamlin has yet to break into Victory Lane.

5. The future for Kurt Busch and Ross Chastain is a little foggy after this week’s news that Trackhouse Racing Team will take over the assets of Chip Ganassi Racing at the end of the 2021 season. With rumors of Silly Season swirling, Trackhouse Racing Team owner Justin Marks says that Suarez will continue to drive the No. 99 in 2022, which leaves one more seat up for grabs with a second car. Marks did indicate that Busch and Chastain are the top two candidates for the ride, but nothing is set in stone just yet.

Bowman Powerrankings Hero
Bowman Powerrankings Hero

Race-day staples

Our biggest pieces of the week — get covered for race day from all angles.
Power Rankings: Alex Bowman as a title contender? | Scope the ranks
Paint Scheme Preview: Looks for Road America | See the schemes
Fantasy Fastlane: Kurt Busch an ideal pick? | Full Fantasy advice | Set your roster
Preview Show: Underdogs show promise at Road America | Watch the show

Get in on the action

Think you know NASCAR? Put your mettle to the test with gaming, fantasy.
Betting odds for Road America | See the odds
Don’t sleep on Allmendinger |Read why in our BetMGM preview
Elliott tops oddsboards, but Allmendinger crashes party | Learn more
Is a bet on Elliott to win the title worth the wait? | Learn more
Take a shot at winning cash prizes with the free-to-play Jackpot Races app | Hit the jackpot
Full guide to 2021 NASCAR Fantasy Live game | Get the FAQ

Returning to Road America

As the Cup Series returns to Wisconsin, take a look back at history while learning more about the track.
• Back to 1956: Looking back on the first Cup Series race at Road America | Go back in time
• Track preview: Will recent experience pay off at Road America? | Watch video
• Turn-by-turn: Analyzing all 14 turns at Road America | Get to know the track

Fast facts

Hard-hitting, race-relevant statistics, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.
Sunday will be the first Cup Series race at Road America since 1956 when Tim Flock won the race. There are 23,702 days between Cup races at Road America, nearly 65 years
Road America now owns the title for longest track on the circuit at 4.048 miles, ahead of Circuit of The Americas at 3.61 miles.
Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson have finished 1-2 the past two road-course races. Elliott has won five of the last seven road-course events.
Kyle Larson has finished in the top two in seven of the past eight points-paying races.
Hendrick Motorsports has won six of the past seven races and finished 1-2 in four races.
Martin Truex Jr. has just one top-10 finish since his Darlington Raceway victory, which was eight races ago. Truex has averaged a finish of 17.25 the past seven races.

Catch the pack

Read up on all the headlines from the week leading up to Sunday’s race.
Trackhouse Racing to acquire Chip Ganassi Racing at the end of 2021 season | Learn more
Six candidates to watch as potential drivers of Trackhouse’s second car | Who could it be?
Matt DiBenedetto eyes Road America redemption, historic victory for Wood Brothers Racing | Read more
Chase Elliott on Jeff Gordon’s executive qualities, early career help | Read more
Chase Elliott nominated for 2021 ESPYS Best Driver Award | Read more
Michael McDowell carries experience, fond memories in Road America return | Read more
How the postseason picture looks leading into Road America | Playoff Watch

Say what?

Notable quotes from the stars of the sport heading into Sunday’s race.

“I‘ve raced there before in an Xfinity car in 2013. I remember it was a really fun race track — a really long race track. I‘m definitely excited to get back there this weekend because it‘s a really cool place. Whether on the simulator or iRacing, it‘s good to get visuals of elevation changes ahead of time.” — Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

“It‘s nice going into the weekend with some experience that Cup veterans may not have since I‘ve raced at Road America in the Xfinity Series. It makes me wish we weren‘t having practice or qualifying so the Cup veterans could feel a little bit of what I felt heading into the Sonoma race weekend without turning a lap there! Regardless, this weekend is going to be a great opportunity for our team.” — Tyler Reddick, driver of the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

“I think a lot of people are noticing how narrow the track, that‘s for sure. It‘s very unique in that aspect for stock cars, but you still have enough room to move around and race too. I think a lot of them have simulator laps and Kyle (Busch), I think came up here and tested as well. They are world class racecar drivers. They will figure it out. Honestly, they haven‘t really reached out to me, but I‘m sure they are going to be tough to beat whenever they get here.” — Christopher Bell, driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota