After a 65-year absence, the 4.048-mile, 14-turn Road America road course will welcome the NASCAR Cup Series back for an Independence Day special on July 4.
Opened in 1955, Road America has been an open-wheel staple for 39 years with greats like Mario Andretti, Jacques Villeneuve, Emerson Fittipaldi and Alex Zanardi among those winning Indy car races.
While the Cup Series makes its return to Road America for the first time since Tim Flock’s victory on Aug. 12, 1956, the NASCAR Xfinity Series has made 11 memorable visits to the track since 2010. Suffice to say, despite being NASCAR’s largest track in terms of length, the racing often resembles a Saturday night shootout on a short track.
Carl Edwards, Reed Sorenson, Nelson Piquet Jr. A.J. Allmendinger and Brendan Gaughan won five of the longest Xfinity Series races at Road America with a combined 27 caution periods for 62 laps.
In addition, this scenic road course has played host to some masterful driving like Austin Cindric’s Xfinity Series victory a year ago in a race that started off rather soggy.
Featuring various elevation changes and undulations, Road America resembles highway driving with two straightaways that lead to distinct turns such as the Carousel, Kink, Canada Corner and Bill Mitchell Bend.
Moreover, this road course demands precision and patience like a short track, which may be good news for those who enjoy racing at Martinsville and Bristol.
Overall, Road America features five passing opportunities. The straightaways, while long for a road course, are narrow in nature. Essentially, race starts and restarts won’t exactly work if the field fans out to anything beyond two-wide racing.
Like most road courses, even with races broken down into stages, Road America can cause some headaches for crew chiefs with fuel mileage. The choice will be made between gaining stage points but losing track position for the subsequent segment or pitting before a stage’s conclusion for maximum on-track positioning.
As a technical road course, drivers should be like the Borg from Star Trek by evolving toward a state of perfection.