NASCAR Cup Series at Road America: Kwik Trip 250 picks, preview

Christopher Bell is starting to hit his stride. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

The Cup Series makes its second trip to the Badger State this weekend for the Kwik Trip 250 at Road America. This track is one of the most unique road courses in all the world. Opened in 1955, Road America is the largest racetrack on the NASCAR schedule. It has 14 corners and multiple long straightaways. Considering how massive of a track it is, we will see fuel strategy play a big part in the race. The race should be a three-four stop race, so we will more than likely see drivers try to short-pit to cut the race strategy in half, similar to what we saw Matt DiBenedetto do last season.

Last Week at Nashville, Chase Elliott was able to get a good enough restart and hold off Kurt Busch to claim his 15th career win and his second of 2022. On the last restart, there was a bit of controversy after Brad Keselowski crashed with 3 laps to go. Regardless, NASCAR did not throw the caution and the race continued on, allowing Elliott to drive off into the sunset. At first glance, not throwing the yellow flag seemed like it wasn’t the right decision.

Brad was clearly off the pace and possibly laying down debris, that alone seemed like it was worthy of a caution but after a second look, I understand why NASCAR made the decision they did. There had been a long rain delay, and they were ready to get back home. Regardless, the race was won and lost by the decision to pit or not to pit on the final restart. The dominant car of the day was Kyle Busch, his chances of victory were dashed after the team decided to go down pit road and give up their track position. I am sure that decision by crew chief Ben Beshore is one he’d like to have back.

Another team that struggled in pit road was the #23 of Bubba Wallace. All season, this pit crew has continued to let down their driver, and it’s a shame because they have had some really fast cars. No one else in the field passed as many cars as he did, and it was all because he would either have to deal with a loose wheel or a bad pit stop. While he was able to rebound to an acceptable 12th place finish, the results haven’t been indicative of where they should finish. At Kansas, Bubba had the fastest car on the track for the better part of the day but again because of a loose wheel, he would have to come from the back.

Now I can understand that this team is a new team and didn’t have the luxury of buying a whole race team like Trackhouse did, but this is becoming more and more of a habit, and it’s costing them dearly. This week will be even more challenging considering that the cars will enter their pit-stall in the opposite direction. Let's hope for their sake that they get these things figured out, they are running out of time to try and make the playoffs and join their teammate Kurt Busch in the round of 16.

Ryan Blaney was able to complete an incredible comeback last week. Earlier in the race, Blaney would slap the wall in turn four and spin. He would rebound to finish third and appeared to have a car to contend for the win on the last restart. Blaney has really flown under the radar this season. While he hasn’t won a points paying event this season, no one has been more consistent than him. Blaney is having a season similar to Denny Hamlin's from last year, as he scores a lot of stage points and finishes upfront almost weekly. He didn’t have a good race here last year, but these cars are much different, so it will be a completely different racetrack.

My pick to win this weekend is Christopher Bell. To some, this might be a bit of a surprise pick, but he has been running really well. Over the last six races, no one has a higher average finish than he does. It seems like he is starting to hit his stride, and now they are going to a race he nearly won last season. A win would almost be required for Bell to make the chase, right now he is safe. But with the abundance of winners we have seen this season, it will benefit him the most to get a victory and assure his ticket to the playoffs. If he can continue this run of consistency, look out for Bell to take the checkered flag on Sunday.

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