Fourth Turn – Cup Drivers At Road America

Paul Menard holds off Ryan Blaney on his way to winning the Road America 180 NASCAR Xfinity Series race. [John Wiedemann Photo]

Paul Menard holds off Ryan Blaney on his way to winning the Road America 180 NASCAR Xfinity Series race in 2015. [John Wiedemann Photo]

by Paul Gohde

Rain is never a friend of race promoters and Road America obviously suffered from a morning shower that hung around just a bit too long this Sunday morning. Attendance at the NASCAR Xfinity Series weekend here has gone down a bit since that first run when Cup driver Carl Edwards won back in 2010. Cup drivers won again in 2013 (AJ Allmendinger) and again in 2015 (Paul Menard), but support for the Xfinity race by big name Cup series drivers has been slim, if at all, over the event’s seven-year run.

The matter of Cup series drivers running in the Xfinity Series, or even the Camping World Truck Series, has been a matter of intense debate; especially when Kyle Busch dominates all three series’ events at Bristol as he did a few weeks ago.

Busch, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and other Monster Energy Series drivers usually enter the limited amount of Xfinity events each season that are allowed by NASCAR; and they quite often dominate. Twenty-two Xfinity events have been run so far in 2017, and 15 of those have been won by Cup regulars; five by Kyle Busch alone.

Whether Cup participation in those lower level series is good or bad can be debated over and over, but if those drivers continue to whine over the limitations put on their participation in those events by NASCAR, then, when the opportunity arises to support those races, where are they?

The Monster Energy Series was off this week; a perfect chance to support a race at Road America that could use a shot of adrenalin in the form of Busch, Logano, Keselowski, Kyle Larson and others. Road America is a world-class facility. NASCAR claims to be the top motorsports series in North America. Why not come and try it?

All of those Cup drivers have literally turned their backs on a chance to run here and support an event that could challenge their skills and bring the event some needed energy.

Back in 2010, when Edwards won in front of a reported 50,000 fans, Ron Fellows plunked himself down in the RA Media Center after finishing second and declared, “Two Words: Sprint Cup.” He was thrilled by the challenge of the course and the ambience of the event. Bring the Cup Series here; soon, he begged. That hasn’t happened yet, and it may never get scheduled.

But Kyle, Brad, Joey and all you others, you have another chance to come to Elkhart Lake. The 2018 RA Xfinity race is scheduled for Saturday, August 25th; a weekend that is again open on the Monster Energy Cup schedule. You need to listen to Ron Fellows. It’s not a Cup race, that’s for sure, but you do need to come and race at Road America; soon. Enjoy the brats, too.

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