What to Watch: 2022 Cup Series race at Road America

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Road America, the 18th regular-season event of the 2022 campaign.
NOTE: Through the NBC portion of the broadcast schedule, races will be shown on either NBC or USA Network alongside the NBC Sports App.

Race-day info 📝

Where: Plymouth, Wisconsin
Approximate start time: 3 p.m. ET | Full weekend schedule
TV/Radio: USA Network, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio | Full TV schedule
The purse: $7,145,001
Forecast: A 20% chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 78 degrees, according to NOAA.gov | Weather tracker
Race distance: 62 laps | 250 miles
Stages: 15 | 30 | 62
Pit-road speed: 40 mph
Caution car speed: 45 mph
Road America 101: Get the full lowdown
Starting lineup: Where drivers will start

Pit stalls:
 Where drivers will pit

Key things to watch 🔑

Big storyline

Though he has been atop the standings for nearly the entire season, it seems like Chase Elliott is rounding into his best form after a tough stretch in May. And for the competition, that comes as a scary sight with another road course on the horizon. Both of his wins this season have come in the last seven races and he has won a staggering six of the last 13 races on left- and right-turn circuits. He is the defending race winner at Road America after a genius spout of speed and strategy saw him take the checkered flag here in 2021 after starting in 34th. With a playoff spot virtually guaranteed, the No. 9 team’s focus is likely on capturing the regular-season championship and 15 additional playoff points. A win Sunday would go a long way to achieving that goal. However, so far this season, Trackhouse Racing has had the upper hand on road circuits, giving Ross Chastain and Daniel Suárez historic first wins to elevate their careers. So, will Elliott continue to turn up the heat on other title contenders? Will Trackhouse keep their road-course streak alive? Or will another unsuspecting driver steal the show? | Cup Series standings

Who’s hot? Who’s not? 

Alongside teammate Joey Logano’s underrated prowess on road courses, Ryan Blaney has also been a quiet contender in recent history. The No. 12 Team Penske driver has four-consecutive finishes of ninth or better at road courses and has led laps in 14 of the 17 races this season. Tied for the series lead in Busch Light Pole Awards with three, Blaney has proven he has the speed at nearly every track this season. But he is still searching for his first victory with time winding down in the regular-season campaign. Without a win, Blaney and his crew cannot afford many other new winners or bad performances down the stretch. So, entering Road America with three straight finishes of sixth or better after a string of five finishes of 11th or worse, Sunday’s race will prove if Blaney can be consistent when it counts. | More on Blaney and road courses

After a decent start to the season, Martin Truex Jr. has cooled off in recent weeks, finishing 26th at Sonoma Raceway and 22nd at Nashville Superspeedway (though he led 82 laps and strategy cost him here). Even with the late-race mishap at Nashville, Truex still has six other finishes of 12th or worse in the last 10 races. After he announced his return to the No. 19 team for 2023, the team has a lot to smile about off the track. But with a so-far winless season on the books and a recent struggle for consistency, a good result at Road America would go a long way. The good news for the No. 19 camp is that Truex finished ninth here last season and has generally done well on road courses throughout his career. But with Toyota being just a step off at this track type, fortunes will have to change if Truex is going to get in the win column on Sunday.

Driving under the radar

Truex’s new contract, Kyle Busch’s uncertain future with Joe Gibbs Racing and other story lines surrounding the organization have left Christopher Bell’s recent resurgence a bit of a lesser talking point. Bell is on a tear as of late, reeling in six finishes of ninth or better in the last seven races. In a season where it has been increasingly harder to be consistent, Bell and the No. 20 team have found a niche. Oh, yeah. And he was only one position away from winning at Road America last season, as well. Things are lining up for Bell and company to make a strong push into the playoffs, although they may need a win to get there. Based on last season’s numbers, 2022 has not risen to the level of a spectacular improvement for the young driver. But if the current trend continues, he could be one of the leading dark horse title contenders.

Saturday’s sessions

Ford was the class of the field on Saturday, setting the pace during practice and sharing the majority of success in qualifying. Chase Briscoe was on top of his game early, setting the fastest lap time in the lone practice session of the day and holding onto the quickest lap in qualifying until the final few minutes of the session. And then, it was another Chase who stole the show — Elliott. Unsurprisingly, Elliott showed his speed around the Wisconsin track and earned the Busch Light Pole Award for Sunday. In addition to the Chase vs. Chase battle, Ford’s performance (no pun intended) and consistency blossomed into the biggest story line. Blue Oval wheelmen Chris Buescher and Michael McDowell, who put together strong performances at Sonoma Raceway, once again showed up for the left- and right-turn challenge at Road America. Perhaps the most experienced road-course drivers of the bunch, Austin Cindric and Joey Hand also joined the party with Cole Custer and Brad Keselowski not too far behind. Sunday’s race should factor in a handful of unusual contenders. | Full practice and qualifying recap | Inspection updates

Road America Hill Shot
Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

Race-day staples ✅

Our biggest pieces of the week — get covered for race day from all angles.

• Paint Scheme Preview: Road America’s vibrant, patriotic colors | Pick a favorite
• Power Rankings:
Kevin Harvick closing in on first win of 2022? | Latest Cup Series driver rankings
• Fantasy Fastlane:
Can Chase Elliott get back to his winning ways on road courses? | Top plays, sleepers
• NASCAR betting:
Odds, favorites for Sunday’s race | BetMGM betting odds
• Backseat Drivers:
Which driver will win head-to-head at Road America? | Watch the debate
• Playoff Watch:
How the postseason picture looks before this weekend | Bubble battles, playoff locks

Catch the pack 💨

Read up on the top headlines from the week leading up to Sunday’s race.

• Ryan Blaney: Analyzing the No. 12 driver’s sneaky-good results at road courses | Read more
• Kyle Busch:
Busch chimes in on Toyota’s road-course struggles so far in 2022 | Read more
Nearly 200 hours of coverage in 2022 | Learn more
• Kurt Busch:
Veteran driver gives calming advice to teammate Bubba Wallace | Hear what he said | Analyzing Bubba’s rant
• Austin Cindric: Assessing the Team Penske rookie’s challenges so far | Read more
• Penalty report:
Four-race suspension for RFK Racing’s crew members | Learn more
• Ross Chastain:
No. 1 Trackhouse Racing driver seeking balance among highs and lows | Read more
• JR Motorsports:
Organization, owners eye Cup Series racing in the future | Read more
• Michael McDowell:
Finding a Next-Gen boost, consistent momentum heading towards final stretch | Read more
• Justin Marks:
Trackhouse Racing owner set to return behind the wheel in Truck race at Mid-Ohio | Read more
• Chase Elliott:
2021 champion joins Georgia sports’ champion’s celebration | Read more
• Nomination:
Kyle Larson nominated for Best Driver at 2022 ESPYS | Read more

Get in on the action 💰

Think you know NASCAR? Put your mettle to the test with gaming, fantasy.

• The Action Network: The dominant driver to bet at 18-1 odds | See who it is
• BetMGM:
All eyes on Elliott for Road America | Expert analysis
• Featured matchup:
Which driver matchup should you key in on Sunday? | Read more
• Play it LIVE:
Full guide to 2022 NASCAR Fantasy Live game | Get the FAQ
• Going all the way:
 2022 Cup Series championship odds | See them here

Brie-nging you back in time 🧀

Wisconsin and cheese go hand-in-hand, but see which memories from Road America go hand-in-hand with the Cup Series.

• Blast from the past: NASCAR racing at Road America — 1956 | See gallery
• More photos from the archive:
See the best scenes from 2021 Road America weekend | Scroll through them
• Last season:
Chase Elliott surges to Cup Series win at Road America | Read full recap
• Race Rewind:
Chasing Chase at Road America | Highlights, video recap
• Still racing:
Active Cup Series drivers with road-course wins | See the list
• History books:
NASCAR’s all-time winners on road courses | See the list

Fast facts ⏩

Hard-hitting, race-relevant statistics, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.

July 3rd is the third race at Road America and the second in the last 66 years.
Chase Elliott won the race at Road America in 2021 after starting 34th, the worst start position ever by a road-course race winner.
The last two road-course races were won by drivers getting their first career Cup Series win — Ross Chastain (Circuit of The Americas) and Daniel Suárez (Sonoma Raceway).
Chevrolet won 12 of the last 13 road-course races, including the last eight.
Road America is the second of four road-course races run between June 12th and August 21st (70 days).

Say what? 🎙

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

“I’m excited to get back to Road America. I thought last year’s event was really good. For me, I was always partial to having the Fourth (of July) race at Daytona, but the crowd was really good and the energy was super high, and I think we need to have an energetic race on the Fourth. That’s a big weekend for our country. It’s a race inside our sport that I think is deserving of a lot of energy too, because we are a sport that’s going on this time of year and that needs to be a big event. I felt like the people up there welcomed us with open arms and brought a lot of energy. Anytime you have energy at the track, it makes it fun for everybody involved – whether you’re working inside the sport, you’re a driver, you’re another a fan there, it just makes for a better event, better environment. Last year, I felt was a great example of that. I hope that’s the case again this weekend. I hope the results are the same this weekend and everybody has a big time.” — Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

“It’s a great track. It’s obviously a very long track, so you get a lot of different types of corners and some elevation changes. We’re definitely looking at this weekend as being very important. We weren’t where we need to be at Sonoma and our guys have been working really hard since then to figure out why and hopefully come to Road America this weekend with a better shot at running up front like we know we’re capable of.” — Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

“From the standpoint of driving in the seat, Sonoma was the most difficult physically. We’re lucky it wasn’t 100 degrees there, but you don’t have a lot of time to breathe. You don’t have a lot of time to do anything. You can’t let your guard down at all. At least at Road America, we’ll have some time to breathe. I mean, you could almost take a drink of water. There’s time to think about it, but, again, like I said before, Road America is probably gonna be the raciest track – for sure the raciest track we’ve seen so far, similar to COTA, but I think it’s gonna be a little bit more racy because of the long straightaways and the big brake zones and the way that corners lead onto the straightaways. It’s a fun track.  Most people seem to enjoy this track and look forward to going to Road America.  Everybody has a good attitude about it, but I think this is gonna be better racing.” — Joey Hand, driver of the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford.