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Nationwide Adds Road Race

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, December 21 2009

2008 NASCAR Nationwide logo

The NASCAR Nationwide Series is leaving Milwaukee but not Wisconsin.

NASCAR officials announced Monday that there will be a Nationwide race at the Road America road racing circuit in June.

The race will be moved there from the Milwaukee Mile, which has had financial problems and announced recently that it will shut its doors to big-time racing.

The Mile had been scheduled to host a Nationwide event on June 19th.

That will now be the date for the Nationwide race at Road America, which is located in Elkhart Lake, about 60 miles north of Milwaukee.

Road America is one of the top road courses in the world. In the past, such series as CART, American Le Mans and Can Am have all raced there.

It is a 4-mile course which features tight corners, fast straights and elevation changes. It was built in 1955.

On the same weekend the Nationwide Series will be at Road American, the Sprint Cup Series is scheduled to be in Sonoma, Calif. for a road race at Infineon Raceway.

The Milwaukee Mile also had a Camping World Truck Series event scheduled for 2010. No word yet on what will happen to that race.

“We’re excited to be staying in Wisconsin and racing in front of the passionate fans there at a historic venue that’s new to our NASCAR Nationwide Series,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s vice president of racing operations.

While Road America is new to the Nationwide Series, it’s not the first time NASCAR has raced there. On Aug. 12, 1956, Tim Flock won the only other NASCAR national series race, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, at the then one-year-old track. In 2001, current NASCAR Sprint Cup driver – and Eau Claire, Wis., native – Paul Menard won there in the former NASCAR Re/Max Challenge Series.

“It’s a really great race track,” Menard said. “It’s in a very picturesque setting in the Wisconsin countryside. It has every kind of corner you can imagine. When I was a kid, my dad would take me to Road America. The fans love it there.

“By the second practice, I’m sure everyone will be up to speed because the drivers are so good in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Braking will be the hardest aspect. Strategy will play a big part in this race. I’m really excited about (the series) running there.”

Road America will be the third road course on the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule. The series also will race at Watkins Glen International and at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. As recently as the 2007-08 seasons, the NASCAR Nationwide Series also had three road courses on its schedule, racing at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City in addition to The Glen and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

“Road America is a very unique track that will provide great racing and will test driver skill and ability on what is a very large course,” said Joe Balash, director of the NASCAR Nationwide Series. “And yes, we’ll be prepared to race in the rain if necessary,” he said, in reference to the series’ last two races in wet weather in Montreal. The 2008 event was the first NASCAR national series points race contested in the rain.

Teams will be permitted to participate in a full day of additional event practice on Thursday, June 17, prior to the start of official on-track activity on Friday, June 18.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, December 21 2009
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