Fuel & Tires: IndyCar returns to Road America

 

DAVID BOE

It's the weekend that many Wisconsin fans of the Verizon IndyCar Series have been waiting for. The series returns to the picturesque Road America track in Elkhart Lake for the Kohler Grand Prix on Sunday.

The track hosted IndyCar in the guise of CART or Champ Car from 1982 through 2007, though there was no race in 2005. It will be the first time the series returns since the 2008 reunification between Champ Car and the IRL.

Opened in 1955, the 14-turn, 4.048-mile track is renowned as one of the best road courses in the North America, if not the world. As a spectator, there are many different vantage points available around the track, so much so that it sometimes feels as if you're watching multiple races at once.

I've been to a few IndyCar races at the track, most memorably for Dario Franchitti's first series win in 1998 and in 2000 when Paul Tracy won after losing power coming to the green flag. Tracy got his engine restarted, but was far behind the field at the end of the first lap and fought back to win without the benefit of any full-course cautions.

At one point in time, the IndyCar race at Road America was the largest single-day sporting event in the state. While it likely won't rise to that level this weekend, ticket sales have been strong even if over-exaggerated a bit. The track actually had to create more area for camping due to high demand, so that's a good sign.

I would urge you to take the roughly two-hour drive north and check out the race if you have no plans Sunday. I will be there with my dad and son to see if Sebastien Bourdais, the only former winner in the field, can repeat his 2007 win.

If you are unable to make it, coverage of the race starts at 11:30 a.m. Sunday on NBC Sports Network. Tracy is one of the announcers, along with fellow competitor Townsend Bell, so you'll be sure to hear some great stories about the track from the two of them.

NASCAR GOES ROAD RACING

Following a rare weekend off, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California for the Toyota/Save Mart 350. It is the first of two road course races on the schedule and is usually a pretty entertaining race in which the drivers have to do more than just turn left.

Kyle Busch is the defending race winner while other former winners in the field include Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. Busch has finished 30th or worse in the last four races, after winning three out of five races earlier in the season.

Kevin Harvick, the current points leader, has a few podium finishes at the track, but has never won there. Brad Keselowski, who has been on a tear since the Talladega race in May, has never finished higher than tenth in six previous starts at the track.

Coverage starts at 2 p.m. Sunday on Fox Sports 1.

TRUCKS AT GATEWAY

The Camping World Truck Series hits Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois, for the Drivin' for Linemen 200 on Saturday.

Rookie driver William Byron is looking for his third win in a row and fourth of the season while Janesville native Travis Kvapil has yet to match his season-best finish of fifth at the season opener at Daytona.

Coverage starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on Fox Sports 1.

LOCAL RACES

—Madison International Raceway will hold its “Salute to America Night” with Late Model, Sportsman and Midwest Dash Series races as well as fireworks. Racing starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $18 adults, $16 seniors, $10 students ages 12-17 and $5 kids ages 6-11. Click here for more information.

—Jefferson Speedway will have a full racing program with Late Model, Sportsman, International, Hobby Stock, Road Warrior and Bandit races. Gates open at 3 p.m. with time trials at 5 p.m. and racing at 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $12 adults, $8 seniors and students ages 12-15 and $4 kids ages 8-11.

—Rockford Speedway will hold the “Star Spangled 76” with racing in Late Model, Short Tracker, Hornets and Illini Midget divisions. Gates open at 5 p.m. with racing at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $15 adults, $10 students ages 12-17 and $5 kids ages 6-11. Click here for more information.

GazetteXtra.com does not condone or review every comment. Read more in our Commenter Policy Agreement

  • Keep it clean. Comments that are obscene, vulgar or sexually oriented will be removed. Creative spelling of such terms or implied use of such language is banned, also.
  • Don't threaten to hurt or kill anyone.
  • Be nice. No racism, sexism or any other sort of -ism that degrades another person.
  • Harassing comments. If you are the subject of a harassing comment or personal attack by another user, do not respond in-kind. Use the "Report comment abuse" link below to report offensive comments.
  • Share what you know. Give us your eyewitness accounts, background, observations and history.
  • Do not libel anyone. Libel is writing something false about someone that damages that person's reputation.
  • Ask questions. What more do you want to know about the story?
  • Stay focused. Keep on the story's topic.
  • Help us get it right. If you spot a factual error or misspelling, email newsroom@gazettextra.com or call 1-800-362-6712.
  • Remember, this is our site. We set the rules, and we reserve the right to remove any comments that we deem inappropriate.

Report comment abuse