The NASCAR Cup Series drivers take on Road America on July 3 (3 pm ET, USA), marking the third road course race in 2022. Only one team has reached Victory Lane at road courses this season, but two under-the-radar drivers stand out as possible options to snap the streak.
Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain won the first road course race of the season. He moved Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger out of the way on the last lap and captured his first career Cup Series win. Daniel Suarez then won his first career Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway after holding off both RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher and Front Row Motorsports’ Michael McDowell.
Buescher and McDowell will now have an opportunity to turn in even better performances during the return to Road America. Neither driver cracked the top 10 during their first Cup Series race at the Wisconsin road course in 2021, but they will both be names to watch when they make their respective returns.
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Buescher and McDowell are not the immediate names that jump out when examining road course favorites. That honor belongs to the drivers at Hendrick Motorsports considering that they have combined to win nine of the past 13 road course races. Chase Elliott is also the defending winner at Road America. However, both Buescher and McDowell have adapted well to the new stock cars, which makes them sneaky options to win.
McDowell Has Embraced the Gen 7 Era of NASCAR
McDowell, who has one career win, has performed consistently during the first season of the Gen 7 era. He has six top-10 finishes in 2022, which is a career-high. This includes the race at Sonoma. McDowell also finished 13th overall at the Circuit of the Americas.
The Arizona native will now try to add another top-10 finish at a track where he has previous experience. He has one Xfinity Series win, as well as a runner-up behind Nelson Piquet Jr., while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.
“Road America is my best track, so with as well as we’ve been running and as well as we ran at Sonoma, we have to highlight this as a weekend that we’ve got to try and get a win,” McDowell said during a media availability, transcript courtesy of NASCAR Media. “But it’s not our only shot and that’s nice. We’re not quite where we need to be legitimate contenders for wins every weekend on ovals, but we’re pretty close.”
Buescher Has Previous Success at Road Courses
Buescher has similar success at NASCAR’s road courses. He has three top-fives in 22 starts, including his runner-up at Sonoma, a third-place run at the Charlotte Roval in 2021, and a fifth-place finish at the Daytona Road Course in 2020.
Buescher has achieved similar success in the Xfinity Series. He made six road course starts in his career, and he posted four top-10s and three top-fives. This run includes a victory at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course during the 2014 season.
The driver of the No. 17 RFK Racing Ford enters the weekend with solid odds to win at 40-1, per BetMGM. He is just ahead of McDowell, who sits at 50-1 ahead of the third road course race of the year. Elliott has the best odds at 7-2 while three-time road course winner Kyle Larson sits at 7-1.
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