Podium Preview: Jockey Made in America 250

Certainly, Austin Cindric's No. 33 shows patriotic colors for Sunday's Jockey Made In America 250 at Road America. (Photo: Mike Moore/The Podium Finish)

Certainly, Austin Cindric’s No. 33 shows patriotic colors for Sunday’s Jockey Made In America 250 at Road America. (Photo: Mike Moore/The Podium Finish)

All things considered, Sunday’s Jockey Made in America 250 marks the NASCAR Cup Series’ first race at Road America since 1956. In other words, Cup racers last raced at the beloved 4.048-mile road course when Elvis Presley sang about “Blue Suede Shoes.”

Of course, the usual favorites like Michael McDowell, Chase Elliott and AJ Allmendinger seem quite logical. However, look at someone like William Byron who could be quiet sneaky on Sunday!

Each race weekend, The Podium Finish’s panelists preview each NASCAR Cup Series points-paying race. This weekend, Adam LucasAshley HobbsKobe LambethLuis TorresMatt SisolerMichelle RaynorTaylor KitchenTerra Jones and yours truly consider Kyle Busch’s Pocono heroics and new NASCAR teams in 2022!

Podium Preview: Jockey Made in America 250 at Road America
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Question 1
In this case, Kyle Busch keeps adding to his impressive Cup record. (Photo: Mike Moore/The Podium Finish)

In this case, Kyle Busch keeps adding to his impressive Cup record. (Photo: Mike Moore/The Podium Finish)

All things considered, how incredible was Kyle Busch’s win last Sunday at Pocono with the transmission issues?

Lambeth : If you listened to Kyle Busch’s radio at Pocono, you would be surprised that he was able to pull off such an impressive win at the Tricky Triangle. Knowing how talented Rowdy is behind the wheel, it is not surprising to see him overcome issues with the transmission. Overall, Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing must feel elated to end the weeks long dominance of Hendrick Motorsports.

Hobbs :  Not to toot my own horn, but I did say he would win that race and snap the Hendrick Motorsports winning train. I was not surprised he won, but despite having transmission issues and still winning says a lot about not only Kyle Busch but about Joe Gibbs Racing in general. Typically, when something fails on a car like that, you can count your day done; but not Rowdy. He kept digging and came out victorious, just as I knew he would.

Tiongson : By all means, Kyle Busch scored one of the most impressive wins I’ve seen in my 30 years of following the series and 13 years covering it. Like Steve Letarte, I thought Busch was in trouble with that transmission issue. With the race’s final stage going clean and green, it allowed Busch some margin for error. Even with the break in no cautions, Busch had an amazingly fast car. No matter how fans feel about the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, he earned one of his best wins. Moreso, he might seem like a decent candidate for Carpool Karaoke.

Sisoler: I called for Kyle Busch to win the race, but not in my wildest imagination did I think he was gonna do it like that. It is an extremely impressive feat for him to pull off and he got all of the cards to fall his way. He couldn’t afford a yellow that last stage, really needed a drafting train so he could save more fuel, and because of his issues had pitted one lap later than everyone else, and all of those factors contributed to the 18’s victory. Winning with just one gear at your disposal is something that just doesn’t happen in NASCAR, let alone motorsports as a whole, so for Rowdy to win it like that, well, as Kyle Petty likes to say, “That’s Incredible!”

Torres :  Certainly, it was a neat feat for Kyle and his entire No. 18 not giving up. While the race came down to fuel strategy, which was refreshing, I can’t deny how great things worked out. Imagine if it was another “caution breed caution” race. Then, Busch would’ve had a real long day. Fortunately, it didn’t have to come down to that which helped some of his causes.

When we look back at his win, it’s one of those “How did that happen?” moments, something Busch has every now and then. But this one will stick out for a while.

Question 2
Moreover, Kaulig Racing goes full time Cup racing in 2022! (Photo: Mike Moore/The Podium Finish)

Moreover, Kaulig Racing goes full time Cup racing in 2022! (Photo: Mike Moore/The Podium Finish)

With Kaulig Racing going Cup racing in 2022 along with potential expansions for Trackhouse and 23XI Racing, how excited are you about the growth of NASCAR?

Raynor : I am extremely excited and love seeing all the interest in the Cup series. I think it’s important for the sport to grow, expand and show that they are open to all possibilities. It goes with the times as things are consistently changing.

And NASCAR has to keep up with the times and plan for the future because teams like Gibbs, Penske, Hendrick are getting older and who knows how longer they will be able to continue I’m the next 10 to 15 years. In order for NASCAR to stay in the sport they must make significant changes and entice new owners to come in. The tricky part is keeping their core fan base. 

Shoppe : For the first time in many years, each and every team announced as an addition to the series, comes with strength, preparation and excitement! In the past, we would likely see a Chip Ganassi Racing simply leave the sport and that’s the end of it. Two less competitive cars in Cup. Today, we see something completely different. The charter system may be too confusing for me to completely comprehend. But you can’t argue with the exciting future as a result! 

Lucas : I am in love with it! Seeing all these newer faces and blood wanting to join NASCAR is a huge breath of fresh air. I remember years ago when the second half of the field consisted of multiple single car teams that were more homegrown, rather than a mega team backed by big wigs. Those guys showed up to race because they loved it.

Now, the script has changed somewhat, but the passion is there. People with money who have a genuine interest in NASCAR are beginning to realize that this sport has a gigantic sky limit to reach fans with. It’s not a money making game, it’s a fan driven sport. Give the fans what they want, or have a celebrity endorsement (Michael Jordan, Pitbull), and they will follow!

I personally know some people that have shown an uptick in interest with NASCAR because their childhood hero was Michael Jordan. They will always ask me “how’d MJ’s car do this weekend?” To which I would reply this week, “you should have watched, it was their career best race!” Tying our sport into other avenues of pop culture will be a dominant trend for the next decade I believe. Anything to expand the field would be welcomed in my book.

Jones : I am beyond excited! This is what the sport has needed for some time with so many teams folding in recent years. I am excited to see new teams, new drivers, new sponsors – all of this is so good for the health and growth of the sport. 

Kitchen :  As a semi-newer fan (2016), It is exciting to fully step into the sport in a time of transition. For those who know transitions in NASCAR well, I have often heard their stories of races past. Unfortunately, I was not lucky enough to witness or remember many of these historic moments that so many fans cherish. I love hearing people talk about their favorite NASCAR moments and listen to the joy and pride in their voices.

With all this growth, myself and many newer fans can start to share that same spark with longtime viewers of the sport. We can now say we witnessed the start of a new era for an up-in-coming team, driver, or sponsor and remember stepping into a time of new beginnings. 

And as newer faces in the fan base begin to appear, so does new talent and teams. These organizations looking to add or expand into the Cup Series in this time of transition is quite exciting. Better yet, the caliber of talent that is being presented leaves me feeling cautiously optimistic about the future of our sport, and overjoyed to be part of this time in NASCAR history.

Certainly, two laps around Road America makes us feel like winners of Sunday’s Jockey Made in America 250!  Next, let’s review last weekend’s Pocono doubleheader action with our race and points reports!
Sure, the editors of TPF had a great Pocono Organics CBD 325 race day.

Sure, the editors of TPF had a great Pocono Organics CBD 325 race day.

More importantly, the points lead battle heats up!

More importantly, the points lead battle heats up!

Then again, Hobbs and a few other panelists enjoy a Kyle Busch win.

Then again, Hobbs and a few other panelists enjoy a Kyle Busch win.

Then again, the points race heats up more!

Then again, the points race heats up more!

Now, Ashley Hobbs transforms back from a penguin into a human as she crunches the past, 17 road course races before this year for Sunday’s Jockey Made in America 250 at Road America!
First, consider how your favorite team fares at road course races in the past 10 years.

First, consider how your favorite team fares at road course races in the past 10 years.

In the past 17 road course races, the projected Jockey Made in America 250 winner has an average starting spot of 7.3, leads an average of 32.2 laps, starts within the top five 41.18% of the time and starts wtithin the top 10 76.47% of the time.

In the past 17 road course races, the projected Jockey Made in America 250 winner has an average starting spot of 7.3, leads an average of 32.2 laps, starts within the top five 41.18% of the time and starts wtithin the top 10 76.47% of the time.

Don't be too surprised.

Don’t be too surprised.

Now, let's consider the trends for road course races since 2011.

Now, let’s consider the trends for road course races since 2011.

Here, we consider the trends at road course races since 2016.

Here, we consider the trends at road course races since 2016.

Whoa!

Whoa!

In a Podium Preview first, check out the top 10 starters for Sunday’s Jockey Made in Road America!
Row 1
William Byron and Kyle Larson (Photo: Sean Folsom and Mike Moore/The Podium Finish)

William Byron and Kyle Larson (Photo: Sean Folsom and Mike Moore/The Podium Finish)

Row 2
AJ Allmendinger and Tyler Reddick (Photo: Mike Moore/The Podium Finish)

AJ Allmendinger and Tyler Reddick (Photo: Mike Moore/The Podium Finish)

Row 3
Austin Cindric and Denny Hamlin (Photo: Mike Moore/The Podium Finish)

Austin Cindric and Denny Hamlin (Photo: Mike Moore/The Podium Finish)

Row 4
Matt DiBenedetto and Ross Chastain (Photo: Mike Moore/The Podium Finish)

Matt DiBenedetto and Ross Chastain (Photo: Mike Moore/The Podium Finish)

Row 5
Martin Truex Jr and Alex Bowman (Photo: Mike Moore & Sean Folsom/The Podium Finish)

Martin Truex Jr and Alex Bowman (Photo: Mike Moore & Sean Folsom/The Podium Finish)

Last but not least, here’s our picks for Sunday’s Jockey Made in America 250 at Road America!
Quite the six pack for the Jockey Made in America 250 at Road America!

Quite the six pack for the Jockey Made in America 250 at Road America!

Torres : Do we expect seeing the norm at Road America? I don’t think so. Expect things looking back to what it was before Pocono with William Byron being the man to beat. Sure at Sonoma he got collected in a crash, but outside of Kyle Larson, Byron wasn’t too shabby last month. I do see his run translating into a road course win on 4th of July.

Shoppe : While I expect Chase Elliott to run well and possibly dominate this road course (not much else to go off of here) I predict things will shuffle at the end. And much like Kyle Larson last week, another HMS teammate will steal the win! William Byron will be the first Cup winner at road America since 1956 on the Fourth of July!

Jones : Michael McDowell is great when it comes to road courses. And let’s not forget, he has an Xfinity Series win at Road America. It’ll take some work, but I think the FRM driver will capitalize on an already solid season and park the No. 34 in victory lane for a second time this season.

Lucas : Dinger (AJ Allmendinger) will be slicing and dicing the competition while cutting the cheese in victory lane at Road America!

Tiongson : By all means, AJ Allmendinger is a logical race pick for Sunday at Road America. He’s mentioned how Road America remains one of his favorite tracks. As content and confident as ever, Allmendinger makes it a great Independence Day for Mr. Tickles and Xena.

Sisoler : Given that Kyle Busch has to start at the back, the surprising speed of the 16 in practice and the fact that he was the top guy in terms of laps led in the XFINITY race before fading to fourth, I’m thinking that AJ Allmendinger can get Kaulig Racing its first Cup Series victory in their sixth start in the top flight of NASCAR.

TPF Stats : One might say, oh, Chase Elliott is the obvious choice this weekend. And you would be right; however, the magic is pointing towards Joey Logano to conquer the new circuit of Road America. Logano has finished in the top four in the three road courses this year. Sure, Elliott has a win and second place, but an abnormal at the Daytona ROVAL pushes him down in my rankings just a touch.

Hobbs : With his luck on road courses this year, looking to add another victory to this season, and get back to better finishes, I am looking at Joey Logano to figure out the new circuit this Fourth of July weekend.

Kitchen : Call me crazy but I think “The Watermelon Man” gets it done this weekend. With the most starts in the field and a performance that gets better week after week, Ross Chastain has a fair shot. We have seen him close to a road course win before and it seems that these tracks are his strong suit. So, my fingers are crossed that this “dark horse pick” goes to victory lane this Fourth of July.

Lambeth: The reigning Xfinity Series champion impressed everyone in the wet at COTA. Although he is not racing full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series right now, I believe that Austin Cindric‘s road course racing skills will earn him his first career Cup win at Road America!

Raynor : I’m going with Kyle Busch. I want to see if he can come from the back to the front and he was fast in practice.

Race fans, thanks for joining us for our preview of the Jockey Made In America 250 at Road America!

We’re ready for some racing. How about you? What do you think are the biggest storylines heading into the race? Who are your favorites to win?  Tweet us now @ThePodiumFinish and tell us now!

Thanks as always to the TPF team for their amazing efforts this week!  Stay safe and wash your hands often. Help yourself, your family and friends by getting the COVID-19 vaccine! Also, thanks for reading our content throughout this season.

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Podium Preview are solely of the authors. They do not reflect any organizations affiliated with the participants and author outside of TPF. This weekly feature is strictly for entertainment purposes. Ultimately, they are not indicative of TPF, the organization and its staff.

Presently, Ashley Hobbs challenges each of our fans to participate in the 38 Challenge for mental health awareness! In this case, join her challenge now by visiting this link!

Also, if you are shopping for NASCAR or racing die-casts, be sure to check out our friends at Circle B Diecast! If your order is $20 or more, be sure to use coupon code TPF2021 for free shipping! Tell them we sent you and buy some new die-casts now! Happy Fourth of July!

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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