McDowell earns first XFINITY Series win at Road America
RELATED: Full race results " Standings " Chase Grid ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- Michael McDowell ’s Twitter handle is @Mc_Driver. After Saturday, he may want to consider changing it -- to something like @Mc_Winner. McDowell led 24 of the final 25 laps of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville for his first victory in 94 series races. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular finished .534 seconds ahead of his Richard Childress Racing teammate Brendan Gaughan after two late restarts, including a green-white-checkered that pushed the race to 48 laps from its scheduled 45. Chip Ganassi Racing ’s Brennan Poole was the top-finishing rookie, third, in his first start at Road America , after starting 12th. The top three drivers were in Chevrolets. The victory was the perfect finish to some unfinished business McDowell had at the 14-turn, 4.048-mile racetrack. In 2011, he started from the pole position and led a race-high 30 laps, but ultimately finished 12th. In 2012, he started second and finished second. "It means a tremendous amount to me," said McDowell, who will compete in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway . "I've been so close here at Road America . To finally finish it off was huge." It almost wasn't, as Gaughan's late charge nearly spoiled McDowell's day. The 2014 race winner spent much of the day running in the second half of the top 10 after getting out of pit stop sequence with the leaders. On the penultimate lap, though, Gaughan bolted from fourth-place to second after making a three-wide pass of Daniel Suarez and Justin Marks in Turn 5. From there, McDowell -- and victory -- was within reach. "When you're racing your teammate you've got to have a little more respect maybe than normal," Gaughan said. "I almost got close enough to him to make him make a mistake." McDowell didn't waver and pushed the Childress team's winning streak at Road America to three, joining Paul Menard (2015) and Gaughan (2014). The win was not without incident. Team Penske 's Alex Tagliani , who started from the pole position for the second time in two NASCAR XFINITY Series races at Road America , maintained that a Lap-29 tangle with McDowell was deliberate. "We were the car to beat," said Tagliani, who led 17 laps and had just regained the top spot going into Turn 5 when he was bumped from behind by McDowell and spun going into Turn 6. "The opportunity presented itself and he took the fastest car on the track out." Tagliani, who finished second here in 2014, wound up seventh. McDowell, when asked about the incident during his post-race press conference, said it wasn't intentional. "He went wide in Turn 5 and I got under ( Justin Marks ) and (Tagliani)," McDowell said. "I was alongside of him and he just decided to turn in. Once we made contact, I just came off the brake and pushed him out of the way. And the reason I did that is because if had I not, I'd have been stuck there too and I would have got run over." The race was slowed by six caution flags for 13 laps, including one for light rain. Elliott Sadler leads the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship standings by 47 points over Daniel Suarez .
Alex Tagliani wins XFINITY pole at Road America
RELATED: Starting lineup Alex Tagliani won the Coors Light Pole Award at Road America on Friday in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Tagliani wheeled his No. 22 Team Penske Ford around the 4.05-mile road course at a top speed of 109.866 mph. That was better than Michael McDowell l, who finished second in his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet at 109.561 mph. For Tagliani, it was his fourth pole win in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and his second at Road America . Justin Marks (No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet), Owen Kelly (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) and Daniel Suarez (No. 19 JGR Toyota) rounded out the top five qualifiers. Alon Day, who hails from Israel, is a NASCAR Next driver and is driving the MBM Motorsports No. 13 Dodge, found trouble in Round 1 of qualifying when he went into the sand trap off Turn 12 (of 14) with just over 16 minutes remaining in the opening session. The incident brought out a red flag. Another red flag came out during Round 1 when Josh Bilicki, who was driving the No. 77 Obaika Racing Chevrolet, spun coming off Turn 1, slid through the sand trap and impacted the tire barrier. The Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville gets underway at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday (NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and marks the third road -course race in four events for the series.
Irked Tagliani after Road America spin: 'Everything goes'
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- Alex Tagliani has made a handful of NASCAR starts across the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series over the past several years, remaining winless despite often, if not always, looking like the man to beat. Being the accomplished road course ace that he is -- along with the horsepower and backing from Team Penske / Brad Keselowski Racing that he's enjoyed since 2014 -- you can typically count on the 42-year-old to start up front, and stay there. A third career Coors Light Pole for Saturday's Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville at Road America -- in just his eighth XFINITY start -- once again put Tagliani in prime position to compete for his first NASCAR national series victory, but once again he came up short. For the second consecutive year, his sole XFINITY start was foiled by contact from the eventual race winner. Last year it was Regan Smith at Mid-Ohio; Michael McDowell was Saturday's culprit. With 17 laps remaining in the 48-lap event (extended three laps by overtime), Tagliani -- who'd led a dominating 17 laps already at that point -- retook the lead from Erik Jones , only to be spun after left-rear contact from the No. 2 of McDowell in Turn 5. He was relegated to 30th place after the contact, having to battle back to salvage a seventh-place finish. "I could basically say what I want to say, but I don’t know if it's going to matter at the end," Tagliani told NASCAR.com on pit road following the race. "I think the 2 realized that we were the car to beat and it's unfortunate he presents himself to take us out, and he did it to take away some competition from him. In those instances, I'm a firm believer that you have to resist the temptation of doing it, but it seems in this world, in this series, in this sport, everything goes. "I think I should try to play smarter and drive him that way. At that time, instead of trying to fight clean with the 2 and give him a hard time and try to be creative and try to go around me, I should've let him go by and do what he did to me and take away the competition. It crossed my mind, but I said 'Walk, man.' Because other than the 2, there was nobody else that could touch us. After what I saw, I should've. Should've, could've, but it's not the way you win races." Looking at the replay, it's tough to tell whether or not McDowell should've lifted, or Tagliani shouldn't have dove into the corner, but it was evident neither driver was willing to budge. Particularly after some prior in-race contact between the two. Regardless, McDowell -- while implying in his post-race press conference that he was in a bit of a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation -- stands by his declaration that the spin was not intentional. "No, it wasn't intentional; I wasn't intentionally doing it, but at the same time I was clearly in there and I wasn't really sure what he was doing when he came across the nose … " the Richard Childress Racing driver said. "… I don't know. I didn't see the replay yet. The 22 and I had a little run-in earlier in the race and basically I kept putting my nose in and he kept slamming the door. He went wide in Turn 5 and I got underneath the 42 ( Justin Marks ) and 22 and I was alongside of him and he decided just to turn in. Once we made contact, I just came off the brake and pushed him out of the way. The reason I did that is because had I not, I would've been stuck there, too, and I would've gotten ran over. Once he committed to turn in and I was on the inside, we already made the contact. "But I haven't seen a replay. A lot of times, I watch the replay and I go, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, I was right.' And a lot of times I go, 'Oh, gosh … ' I hope it's not an 'Oh, gosh' moment. But by no means did I come out of Turn 5 and be like 'Here's my shot. I'm going to wipe him out.' That wasn't the case at all. I got a run and went underneath him and when he slammed his door, I wasn't expecting him to slam the door." McDowell now heads to Michigan International Speedway , where he will race in Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race.
Heads up: Michigan/Road America weekend
Here are the hot topics, trending news and key story lines to get you ready for this weekend's races at Michigan International Speedway and Road America . WEATHER In Brooklyn, Michigan, the forecast shows partly cloudy skies with a 50 percent chance of rain, scattered thunderstorms during the day and a high of 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin – the site of the XFINITY Road America race -- calls for a mix of sunshine and clouds with scattered thunderstorms, a 60 percent chance of rain and a high of 73 degrees Fahrenheit. KEY TIMES Sprint Cup Series: The Sprint Cup Series holds its first practice and Coors Light Pole qualifying session on Friday, beginning at noon and 5:15 p.m. ET, respectively. The race begins at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday on NBCSN/NBC Sports App. XFINITY Series: The XFINITY Series practices twice at Road America on Friday (10 a.m. and noon ET) before qualifying at 6:35 p.m. ET. The race takes place Saturday at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN/NBC Sports App. Camping World Truck Series: The Camping World Truck Series has its pair of practices on Friday, beginning at 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET. The race gets underway Saturday at 1 p.m. on FS1. CATCH DRIVERS LIVE We stream every driver press conference in the media center at NASCAR.com/presspass . The Michigan press conferences begin Friday with Camping World Truck Series drivers Tyler Reddick (11:30 a.m.) and Cameron Hayley (11:45 a.m.), followed by Sprint Cup Series' Austin Dillon (2 p.m.), Greg Biffle (2:15 p.m.) and Alex Bowman (3:45 p.m.), who is filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr . in the No. 88 Chevorlet. LAST TIME Joey Logano dominated the event, leading 138 of the 200 laps and earning Team Penske 's 50th Sprint Cup career victory and 100th premier series win for Roush Yates Engines. Rookie Chase Elliott contended for the win, passing Logano for the lead briefly at Lap 117, but Logano ultimately took back the top spot for the win, while Elliott finished second. YOU SHOULD KNOW ... • Kyle Busch called Brad Keselowski a "dirty racer" following the pair's collision in Friday night's XFINITY race at Bristol Motor Speedway . The two stayed away from one another in Sunday's Sprint Cup event, but will there be leftover tension in the Irish Hills? • The No. 3 team is eyeing Victory Lane this weekend: After Sunday's rain-delayed race at Bristol, No. 3 crew chief Slugger Labbe said that they've had Michigan -- one of driver Austin Dillon 's favorite tracks -- circled on their team calendar and Dillon is looking to earn his first Sprint Cup win in the Irish Hills. • Pocono winner Chris Buescher launched himself into the top 30 with a top-five finish last weekend at Bristol. To make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , the rookie needs to maintain or improve upon his 30th-place position in the driver standings in the three races before the playoffs begin. • Michigan has produced a different Sprint Cup winner in each of the last five races at the two-mile track. Four of the last six winners have started from the pole position.
Chase-clinching scenarios for Michigan and Road America
With three races remaining in the regular season, 10 drivers have clinched a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , assuming each driver starts the remaining races. The 10 clinchers: Brad Keselowski , Kyle Busch , Carl Edwards , Jimmie Johnson , Matt Kenseth , Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Joey Logano , Martin Truex Jr . and Denny Hamlin . Everyone who has a win this season is locked in -- except for Tony Stewart and Chris Buescher , both of whom have yet to clinch a top-30 spot. Stewart can clinch a top 30 spot at Michigan with some help as he must be 91 points ahead of the 31st position in the standings. A number of drivers who currently have no wins can clinch this weekend, but only if they win the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Winless drivers in the standings from Austin Dillon all the way to Aric Almirola could lock in a spot with a victory. See the Sprint Cup standings here . Possible to Clinch: -- Tony Stewart (1 Win, 400 Points, +85 Points Ahead of 31st): Could Clinch a Top 30 spot with help (magic number is 91 points), which is all he needs to do to clinch on wins. The following drivers would clinch with a win: -- Austin Dillon (0 Wins, 596 Points, +281 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Chase Elliott (0 Wins, 588 Points, +273 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Jamie McMurray (0 Wins, 583 Points, +268 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Ryan Newman (0 Wins, 576 Points, +261 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Trevor Bayne (0 Wins, 541 Points, +226 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Kyle Larson (0 Wins, 537 Points, +222 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Kasey Kahne (0 Wins, 537 Points, +222 Points Ahead of 31st) -- AJ Allmendinger (0 Wins, 518 Points, +203 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr (0 Wins, 514 Points, +199 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Ryan Blaney (0 Wins, 508 Points, +193 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr (0 Wins, 461 Points, +146 Points Ahead of 31st)** -- Greg Biffle (0 Wins, 441 Points, +126 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Danica Patrick (0 Wins, 432 Points, +117 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Paul Menard (0 Wins, 431 Points, +116 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Clint Bowyer (0 Wins, 407 Points, +92 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Aric Almirola (0 Wins, 406 Points, +91 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Casey Mears (0 Wins, 375 Points, +60 Points Ahead of 31st): With a win, he could clinch a Chase spot on wins if he got help with clinching a Top 30 spot. **Not entered at Michigan XFINITY The following drivers have already clinched a spot in the top 30 of the points standings, so a win at Road America (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) would lock them into the Chase field -- Justin Allgaier , Ty Dillon , Brendan Gaughan , Brennan Poole , Brandon Jones , Darrell Wallace Jr ., Ryan Reed , Blake Koch , Ryan Sieg , Ross Chastain , Dakoda Armstrong , Jeremy Clements , Ryan Preece , Ray Black Jr . and BJ McLeod . Joey Gase would also clinch a Chase spot with a win. Camping World Truck With a win at Michigan (Saturday, 1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), any of the four drivers currently sitting with one win would clinch their Chase spot. -- Johnny Sauter (1 Win, 306 Points, +243 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Christopher Bell (1 Win, 296 Points, +233 Points Ahead of 31st) -- Ben Kennedy (1 Win, 287 Points, +224 Points Ahead of 31st) -- John Hunter Nemechek (1 Win, 281 Points, +218 Points Ahead of 31st) Daniel Hemric (0 Wins, 312 Points, +249 Points Ahead of 31st) -- With a win and help, he would clinch a Chase spot on wins. (The help would be in the form of all winless drivers being eliminated from leading the standings after Chicago.)
Menard, Rhodes top Road America practices
RELATED: Practice 2 results The NASCAR XFINITY drivers were battling some weather conditions during the second practice session on Friday afternoon with light rain. Despite the rain, Paul Menard was the fastest during the second practice at Road America . Menard's No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet clocked in at 108.202 mph. Second on the leaderboard was the No. 54 Toyota of Boris Said , soaring around the 4.048-mile road course at 108.044 mph. Chase Elliott 's No. 9 Chevrolet had some speed in the second session with a quickest lap of 107.672 mph, followed by the No. 22 Ford of Ryan Blaney (107.656 mph), for fourth on the leaderboard. Rounding out the top five was the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Ty Dillon (107.636 mph). NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville is set for Saturday afternoon at 12:15 p.m. ET (NBCSN/ Live Extra ). The Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville will be held on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Live Extra. , MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). RELATED: Practice 1 results Ben Rhodes topped the leaderboard for Friday afternoon's first NASCAR XFINITY Series practice session at Road America for the Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville. Rhodes' No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet posted a fastest lap of 108.500 mph. The No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet of Chase Elliott was next on the leaderboard, clocking in a fastest lap of 108.133 mph. Last week's winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Ryan Blaney , rounded out the top three with a fast lap of 108.039 mph in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. The No. 42 Chevrolet of Justin Marks (107.948 mph) and the No. 2 Chevrolet of Brian Scott (107.947 mph) came in fourth and fifth, respectively. Points leader Chris Buescher just missed the top five as he had a fastest lap of 107.879 mph and was sixth on the leaderboard. The race at Road America is the final road course race of the 2015 season for the XFINITY Series.
Chris Buescher, Ty Dillon set to battle for first at Road America
RELATED: Updated standings Chris Buescher gambled at Bristol and almost came up big. The key word in the previous sentence: 'Almost.' The 22-year-old Roush Fenway Racing driver took the lead at the .533-mile track after electing not to pit on Lap 192 of 300. Buescher paced the field for the next 106 laps, but a fuel pick-up issue on the penultimate go-around of the race ended any hopes of triumph. Buescher was relegated to 11th, while Ty Dillon finished third, cutting Buescher's NASCAR XFINITY Series points lead to 19. If Buescher didn't go for the win, he wouldn't have lost as many points to Dillon. "We had the speed, but it wasn't meant to be," Buescher said. "I'm glad we took the chance. I wouldn't change it if we could do it over again, but unfortunately it knocked us right out of a top-10 and out of a win." RELATED: Buescher: 'I'm glad we took the chance' Buescher and Dillon will continue to battle for the points lead in Saturday's Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin (3 p.m. on NBCSN) -- the third and final XFINITY Series road course race of the season. The two drivers are the only competitors who finished in the top five of the previous two road course races. A natural on road courses, Buescher won at Mid-Ohio last year in addition to his two top fives while turning left and right this year. He placed 18th in his lone start at Road America last season. " Road America is a very difficult and unique road course," Buescher said. "I love road racing and look forward to the challenge." Dillon finished 19th in his first-ever series start at Road America last year. He enters Saturday's race riding a streak of four top-five finishes. "Our team is looking at the big picture and sometimes we have to take a step back and realize that this is a long season; to take it little by little," Dillon said. "This past weekend in Bristol was a perfect example -- we struggled the first part of practice but (Crew Chief) Nick (Harrison), (Race Engineer) Danny (Efland) and the team just took a step back and reevaluated. We have a championship to win here and it won't be easy. "We have 11 races to go and we're not going to let up."
Full schedule for Michigan and Road America
RELATED: Find NBCSN in your area " Watch live online at NBCSports.com MORE: NASCAR on TV channel finder The NASCAR Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series will gather for a doubleheader showing at Michigan International Speedway this weekend while the XFINITY Series makes a stop at Road America . Check out the full schedule below. Note: All times are ET SUNDAY, AUG. 28: PRE-RACE SCHEDULE — 12:00:00 p.m.: NSCS Driver/Crew Chief Meeting (Michigan Room) — 1:30:00 p.m.: NSCS Drivers Introductions w/ NASCAR Special Awards — 1:58:15 p.m.: Canadian Anthem by: MIS' Own, Lisa Bascom — 2:00:00 p.m.: Presentation of Colors: Michigan State Police — 2:00:20 p.m.: Invocation by: Fr. Geoff Rose — 2:01:00 p.m.: National Anthem by: US Army Chorus Quartet — 2:02:10 p.m.: Flyover TOT by: (2) F-16s, 180th Fighter Wing, Ohio Air National Guard (Turn 4 to Turn 1) — 2:07:10 p.m.: "Drivers, Start Your Engines" by Jeff Blashill, Detroit Red Wings Head Coach ; Flyover TOT by: Breitling Jet Team (Turn 4 to Turn 1) — 2:15:40 p.m.: Start of the Pure Michigan 400 (200 Laps, 400 Miles) ON TRACK: MICHIGAN -- 2 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 (200 laps, 400 miles), NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Results ) PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- 5:30 p.m. approx.: Post-NSCS race DAILY ROUNDUP -- Who has the advantage among Chase bubble pit crews? -- Engine woes hinder Bowman, No. 88 early -- No. 18 spins, gets into grass -- Buescher has early engine problems -- Larson earns first win at Michigan -- Elliott foiled on restart, takes second -- D4D grad earns first Sprint Cup win -- See the best photos from Michigan FRIDAY, AUG. 26: ON TRACK: MICHIGAN -- Noon-1:25 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series first practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Results ) -- 1:30-2:55 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series first practice, FS2 ( Results ) -- 4-4:55 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series final practice, FS2 ( Results ) -- 5:15 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Results ) GARAGECAM ( Watch live ) -- 11:30 a.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series -- 1 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- 11:30 a.m.: Tyler Reddick -- 11:45 a.m.: Cameron Hayley -- 2 p.m.: Austin Dillon -- 2:15 p.m.: Greg Biffle -- 3:45 p.m.: Alex Bowman -- 6:30 p.m. approx.: Post-NSCS Coors Light Pole Qualifying ON TRACK: ROAD AMERICA -- 10-10:55 a.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series first practice ( Results ) -- Noon-1:35 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice ( Results ) -- 6:35 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Results ) DAILY ROUNDUP -- What to know going into Michigan and Road America -- Fantasy Fastlane: Pure Michigan 400 -- Truex, Johnson pace opening Michigan practice -- Employer grants Bowman time off to drive No. 88 -- Logano scores Coors Light Pole at Michigan -- See every car in the field for Michigan's NSCS race -- Fun with fitness: Cassill circles Michigan on foot -- Tagliani nabs pole at Road America -- 'Humbled' Sadler puts team, sponsor limbo behind him -- McDowell, Marks top NXS practices -- Reddick, Hayley pace Truck practices -- ThorSport draws strength to keep on trucking after fire -- See photos of the rebuilt ThorSport shop -- Keselowski hits home with Career for Veterans SATURDAY, AUG. 27: ON TRACK: MICHIGAN -- 8:30-9:25 a.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, CNBC/NBC Sports App ( Results ) -- 9:45 a.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, FS1 ( Results ) -- 11:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, CNBC/NBC Sports App ( Results )--called early due to lightning in the area -- 1 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Careers for Veterans 200 Presented by Cooper Standard and Brad Keselowski 's Checkered Flag Foundation (100 laps, 200 miles), FS2 ( Results ) PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch live ) -- 6 p.m. approx.: Post-NCWTS race ON TRACK: ROAD AMERICA -- 3 p.m.: NASCAR XFINITY Series Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville (45 laps, 182.16 miles), NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Results ) DAILY ROUNDUP -- Stewart, Hamlin top practices at Michigan -- Watch: Hamlin spins in final practice -- Which drivers had the best consecutive 10-lap averages? -- Key story lines to watch for at Michigan -- Kahne seeks win while in familiar Chase bubble spot -- See where your favorite driver will pit on Sunday -- Bowyer's Darlington scheme honors Parsons -- McDowell wins in overtime at Road America -- Moffitt scores first NASCAR national series win at Michigan -- Townley nabs pole for Michigan Trucks race -- See the best at-track action from Michigan and Road America &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Wisconsin native Menard wins at Road America
RELATED: Complete race results " Updated standings ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- The decision to compete in Saturday afternoon's NASCAR XFINITY Series sixth annual Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville at Road America (Wisconsin) paid off in a huge way for Paul Menard , who scored his third career XFINITY victory at his hometown track. Menard, a native of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, started eighth and saw a decision to stay out after pitting on Lap 24 work to his advantage as he edged out a relentless Ryan Blaney by 0.573 seconds at the 14-turn road course. After the contest, Menard said had the race extended a lap farther, he would not have collected his first XFINITY win since Michigan International Speedway last June. "I've been really fortunate to win at some of the coolest tracks, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Road America is right there," Menard said. "These guys called a great race. We didn't have the fastest car. We had a really good short run car. We really burned off the rear tires as we ran, but the Richmond Water Heaters/Menards Chevrolet was fast and (crew chief Danny) Stockman made a hell of a call at the end." If wondering about running out of fuel wasn't enough, Menard also had to fend off a hard-charging Blaney. "I was definitely concerned," added Menard on both circumstances. "I was saving as much as I could under caution, but then when we fired off I was just chattering the left rear tire really bad. It took a couple of laps for it to come in, then the (No.) 22 started burning his stuff up, but it just didn't fire off very good in the end, but it came to us." After inclement weather forced the cancellation of Coors Light Pole qualifying, Ben Rhodes earned the top starting spot based upon turning the fastest lap at the 4.048-mile road course in the first XFINITY Series practice session Friday afternoon. Rhodes, a NASCAR Next alum, would find himself under pressure from the drop of the green flag when JR Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott made the move for the lead in Turn 1. Quickly, though, the field would be under the first full-course caution of the day when Tomy Drissi found himself stuck in the gravel trap in Turn 5. Racing resumed on Lap 4 with Elliott checking out from the field and before the first round of green-flag pit stops. The reigning champion stretched his lead to over 10 seconds, when he relinquished the top spot on Lap 11 for a routine pit stop. Championship contender Ty Dillon inherited the lead when Elliott pitted. Dillon, who finished 10th, stretched his fuel run an extra lap to earn a crucial bonus point toward the championship picture. When pit stops cycled through, Elliott reclaimed the point on Lap 16 and built a 13.7-second lead over second-place Brian Scott at the halfway mark. On Lap 22, the second caution waved for fluid on the track, erasing Elliott's substantial advantage. Despite half of the field electing to come to pit road for service behind them, Elliott and his JRM team stood firm on their plan and stayed out. On the restart, Elliott withstood a challenge for Brian Scott and Ryan Blaney , but in Turn 14 and through the frontstretch, Scott mounted the pressure and made the move on Elliott to take the lead on Lap 27. Unable to make it to the end on fuel, Scott pitted under green on Lap 29 handing the lead to defending race winner Brendan Gaughan . Three laps later, though, Gaughan pitted, handing the lead to hometown hero Paul Menard who pitted during the second caution with 13 laps remaining. Planning to stay out till the end, Menard in saving mode purposely gave up the lead to Blake Koch ,who led with 10 laps remaining when pole-sitter Rhodes found himself stuck in the gravel trap in Turn 7 issuing the third full course caution. During the extended caution, Koch lost power, putting Menard back at the point. On the Lap 41 restart, Menard withstood challenges from Darrell Wallace Jr . and Blaney to seal the win in his 197th career start. Next up for the NASCAR XFINITY Series is a trip to the track dubbed "Too Tough To Tame" at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway for the VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 on Sept. 5 (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC).
Road America may be Boris Said's last NASCAR ride
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- Saturday's race at Road America marks the finale of a five-race NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule for veteran road racer Boris Said this year in Joe Gibbs Racing 's No. 54 Toyota. On Friday, Said hinted that the event could signify another finale on a much broader scale. Said will try to cash in on another opportunity in top-flight equipment in Saturday's Road America 180 Fired up by Johnsonville (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). He'll be driving for the same No. 54 team that's visited Victory Lane four times this season, three times with Sprint Cup vet Kyle Busch and once with JGR prodigy Erik Jones . "Man, this is like the best Christmas present I ever got in my life," Said said after Friday's final practice at the 4.048-mile track. "I've been racing for over 30 years. I'm going to be 53 in a couple weeks. In the last three or four years, I've been racing cars that don't have a prayer to win, underfunded teams. It's still fun, but not fun not being competitive. So, to get an opportunity to drive for Monster and Joe Gibbs and Toyota in equipment like this, it was a dream come true. To finally run in the top five at Watkins Glen, it kind of shows, hey maybe it's not my age, it was just the equipment. "It's just been one of the most fun years I've ever had doing these five races with these guys. Now that it's last one, it might be the last NASCAR car race I ever run, I don't know. But it sure is a cool way to go out." If Saturday proves to be Said's swan song, his record will show one XFINITY victory, one Camping World Truck Series win and two Sprint Cup pole positions in a career that dates back to 1995 in NASCAR national series competition. This year, Said's biggest highlight was a fourth-place finish at the Glen, and leading two laps two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio and a lap at Talladega in May. Said pointed out that he dialed back his sports-car racing schedule this year to better focus on his five-race schedule with Joe Gibbs Racing . But he's otherwise kept occupied off the track in a partnership with Rick Hendrick's automotive group for BMW and Volkswagen dealerships. "That's another dream come true," Said said. In terms of the future, Said indicated that he'd likely compete in sports car events next season, but he'd jump at the chance for another competitive ride in NASCAR. "Who knows? If I could ever get another opportunity like this again, I don't care if I was 70 years old, I'd take it," Said said. "This is like a vacation every time I get to run this. I have fun every minute of the day here. Part of me is sad to see it end, but part of me is like, man, it sure was fun, though."
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