Saturday, June 19, 2010

Edwards King of Road America Nationwide Race

Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

A perfect day greeted the NASCAR Nationwide Series in Elkhart Like, Wisconsin as the stock car racing tour visits a new track added on the 2010 schedule. Consisting of 4.048 miles, the fast 14-turn road course of Road America greets the NASCAR Nationwide Series for the first time. The Bucyrus 200 at Road America is a gain after losing a historically significant race at the Milwaukee Mile oval due to financial issues.

Starting what would be one of three road course stops for the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide season, the unique stock car racing action brought some rare appearances for some drivers. Classically referred to as road ringers, the Bucyrus 200 introduced drivers Ron Fellows and Jacques Villeneuve back to the series. Having little to no experience in the NASCAR feeder series, Owen Kelly, Tony Ave and Patrick Long adds themselves as road race professionals eager to compete against Nationwide series regulars on their turf.

Taking pole in the late morning qualifying session, Carl Edwards lead from the start of the event through the first 12 circuits. Former formula 1 driver Jacques Villeneuve making the most of a front row start. Fastest in Friday practice, Villeneuve and his Braun Racing #32 Toyota would be a dominant figurehead for the road racers through the Road America Nationwide race. Racing Road America, the track is one Jacques Villeneuve enjoyed a positive past winning his very first IndyCar race on the 4-mile circuit in 1994 and repeated in 1995.

Right off the bat, some of the Nationwide series regular encountered difficulty including the 3rd place runner for the drivers points. The #12 Dodge of Justin Allgaier came to a stop on track during the initial laps for what turned out to be a broken track bar. Accepting a 35nd place result after rejoining the field losing 20 laps, the Penske Racing driver stays in 3rd in points but lost significant points to 1st and 2nd position sending Allgaier well-back in the 2010 championship.

Though Braun Racing's #38 Toyota of Jason Leffler took the lead for three laps after gaining the position through pit stop strategy, Edwards stormed past to retake the top position on lap 15 for another 13 laps (translating to more than 52 miles). As caution flew on lap 28 condensing the cars concluding after a long green period the stock car pack was repositioned to take advantage of gaining track places. As the race restarted on lap 30 the predator instincts of competitors reigned setting up the largest incident of the day occurring between 6 cars on lap 31. Involving Jason Leffler, the #34 of Tony Raines, the #31 of Stanton Barrett and the #16 Ford of Colin Braun were among were involved in the turn 6 pile-up which also resulted in over 30 minute red flag period falling on the Road America road course.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Once race was sent in motion following the clean-up in turn 6, the #18 Toyota Camry of Brad Coleman assumed the lead once Carl Edwards pitted with several other drivers including Paul Menard and Jacques Villeneuve. Back to green on lap 34, Coleman held off the Brendan Gaughan's #62 Toyota and Ron Fellows driving the #88 AER Engineering Chevrolet for JR Motorsports.

As the field were engaged with each other for position under 12 laps left in the Bucyrus 200, three cautions would insure at least three golden opportunities to vie for a top finishing position. On lap 38, the #33 Chevrolet of Ron Hornaday and the #21 Richard Childress-Owned Chevrolet being driven by Tim George Jr collided in turn 3. With Coleman still leading through this fifth caution period, the restart would see the Joe Gibbs Racing #18 car under heavy attack as Brendan Gaughan placed a hard charge on Coleman on the restart. Jacques Villeneuve, who had received fender damage through minor contact within the last caution, displayed some of the aggressiveness which made him the most exciting driver to watch in Formula 1. Passing several cars on newer tires Villeneuve diced up to the top 3 entering perfect striking position to the #18 and #62. Into lap 39, Coleman and Gaughan entered turn 3 as Villeneuve made a daring move making the situation 3-wide as he late-braked his #32 Toyota on the inside. Smoking his left ftonr tire in what at that time appeared as tire lockup, Villeneuve's out-braking maneuver paid off passing both Coleman and Gaughan. Within the Canada corner of turn 12, caution flew again as the #23 of Alex Kennedy and the #40 Mike Bliss car get together. It was under this caution it was revealed Villeneuve's tire smoke was a result of the damage in the earlier caution incident.

As Jacques Villeneuve rallied back to the front, so did the strong Roush-Fenway Racing Ford of Carl Edwards. Edward's #60 moved all the way up to 2nd place when the lap 42 restart presented him the perfect chance to reclaim the position is launched from at the start of the Bucyrus 200. Coming down the frontstretch in taking the green, Carl Edwards broke out of the double-file formation immediately merging behind Villeneuve for a quick draft down the remaining straight. Edwards would duck out and swing around Villeneuve's #32 Toyota to take a firm lead. Falling to second, Villeneuve and his Braun Racing team were still content to be running considering some rather heavy tire rubbing.

In a final caution for the #35 car of Stanton Barrett being trapped in the turn 6 sand trap, Villeneuve had one chance to perform regain the lead for a possible NASCAR victory when with the left front tire threatening. However, it would be a mechanical failure which would drop the Braun Racing car out of the running. Edwards blitzed to victory at Road America for his second straight road race win in the NASCAR Nationwide series after winning Montreal in 2009. With Villeneuve's retirement promoting JR Motorsport's Ron Fellows to 2nd, it still proved a terrific day for Canadian NASCAR fans. Brendan Gaughan, Brad Keselowski and rookie Owen Kelly rounded out the top-five for what proved to be an exciting change for the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide series.

2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series
Bucyrus 200 at Road America
Top 10 Race Results

Pos| Car # | Driver | Sponsor/Car Make
1 60 Carl Edwards Fastenal Ford
2 88 Ron Fellows AER Manufacturing Chevrolet
3 62 Brendan Gaughan South Point Hotel & Casino Toyota
4 22 Brad Keselowski Discount Tire Dodge
5 27 Owen Kelly K1 Speed Ford
6 18 Brad Coleman SafeWay Driving Centers Toyota
7 7 J R Fitzpatrick Schick Hydro Chevrolet
8 38 Jason Leffler Great Clips Toyota
9 66 Steve Wallace 5-hour Energy Toyota
10 99 Trevor Bayne Toyota

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