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Gardner Denver 200 Preview: Here Comes the…Rain?

Gardner Denver 200 Preview: Here Comes the…Rain?

by June 21, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. — Rain, rain, go away.

Perhaps the biggest storyline heading into Saturday’s Gardner Denver 200 for the Nationwide Series at Road America is not the absence of a majority of the Sprint Cup Series regulars nor is it the presence of several road course ringers, however, the greatest thing on everyone’s mind this weekend has to be the threat of rain in the forecast.

What makes the threat of precipitation much more interesting this weekend than any other race weekend is the fact that if it indeed does rain, the race will not be pushed back to Sunday or even Monday should the rains continue, no, they’ll race in the rain. Racing in the rain hasn’t been a foreign concept for the Nationwide Series and road courses in the past, and thus the various teams in the garage should be prepared with sets of rain tires and windshield wipers (or squeegees, if you’re a manual labor kind of driver.)

Sam Hornish Jr. (Joe Gibbs Racing) returns to Road America looking for his second victory of the season in his fourth race of the year for Joe Gibbs Racing. Hornish has made two previous starts at the circuit in the Nationwide Series, placing fifth in both 2012 and 2013 for Team Penske. Hornish is currently on a roll for his new team, finishing in the top-five in all three of his previous starts this year. With a second-place finish in the series’ last race at Michigan, Hornish has plenty of momentum on his side and may have just what it takes to earn his very first road course win in the Nationwide Series.

Out of the Nationwide Series regulars in the field, Elliott Sadler (Joe Gibbs Racing) looks to have the strongest chance of his fellow title contenders to win on Saturday. Sadler’s best finish at the 4-mile road course is a fourth-place finish in 2011 and although he has run consistently well in his two races since that 2011 result, this season’s Talladega winner’s average finish in those two starts was 12.0 – consistent, but not unbeatable. A consistent run, however, could still potentially put Sadler into the points lead at the conclusion of the race. Sadler currently trails points leader Regan Smith (JR Motorsports) by 14 points.

Alex Tagliani (Team Penske), the former Champ Car driver, is set to make his Road America Nationwide Series debut at the track that delivered the Canadian his lone Champ Car win in 2004. Tagliani is set to make his first start for Team Penske since 2011 in the No. 22 Discount Tire Mustang and is looking to deliver the team their second win of the season. Of tracks that he made more than three starts at in his open-wheel days, Road America was statistically Tagliani’s best race course. If Tagliani is able to transfer his knowledge of the circuit in an open-wheel car to a full-bodied stock car with ease, then Tagliani should be considered a shoo-in to win Saturday’s race.

Qualifying for the Gardner Denver 200 kicks off at 11:40 a.m ET on Saturday with the actual race itself starting at 2:45 p.m ET. To follow along with live updates of the race, follow @TheFourthTurn, @HunterThomas08, and @KPokrefky on Twitter.

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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