Reed All About It: Sorenson Wins Bucyrus 200 at Road America
For twenty-five years, open-wheel Champ Cars made Road America one of their annual stops where exciting, close racing was prevalent around the 4.048-mile track.
In just two years of being a part of the NASCAR Nationwide Series circuit, the Elkhart Lake, WI facility may have found its new niche with heavier stock cars --- and with late race drama.
With 12 lead changes among 8 drivers, it was one of the sport's most dramatic and exciting road course races in which the winner wasn't determined until the final lap --- literally.
Even without the Sprint Cup competitors making the trip to Elkhart Lake for the race last Saturday afternoon, it was still a hotly-contested race, with the Nationwide regulars battling road course ringers like Ron Fellows and Jacques Villeneuve.
As expected, both Canadians played a pivotal role in the race finish, mixing it up with the likes of Brian Scott, Michael Annett, Elliott Sadler, Mike Wallace, Justin Allgaier, and Reed Sorenson.
However, Fellows and Villeneuve's races were shroweded in controversy.
Villeneuve, who drove the No. 22 Discount Tires/Ruby Tuesday Dodge Challeneger normally piloted by defending series champion Brad Keselowski, made contact with Brian Scott and fellow road ringer Max Papis in turn one during the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish.
As a result, Papis' No. 33 Chevrolet smashed hard into the wall while Scott's No. 11 Toyota was stuck in the sandpit, taking him out of contention for a possible shot at the win.
Despite those skirmishes, Villeneueve came home in third place, while Brian Scott and Max Papis finished 16th and 23rd respectively.
Attempting to finish the race on a second overtime finish, trouble struck the field again, when Alex Kennedy, Eric McClure and Steve Wallace had problems in the sixth turn.
Setting up for the final try for the finish, Justin Allgaier, who won at Chicagoland earlier this month, was in prime position to gain major points on points leader and teammate Reed Sorenson, Elliott Sadler, and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
Leading when Aric Almirola ran off course in turn five, Allgaier just needed to finish the last lap under caution to capture his second win of the Nationwide season.
Unfortunately, the No. 31 Florida Gulf Safe Chevrolet ran out of fuel, which set up for a wild finish - at caution speed!
First, Ron Fellows zoomed by Reed Sorenson, as he was making his case that he was maintaining reasonable speed under yellow, unlike Sorenson, whose car seemed to slow down dramatically.
NASCAR rewarded the victory initially to Fellows, while Sorenson and his No. 32 General Dollar Chevy team made their case that they deserved to win.
Ultimately, officials declared Sorenson as the winner, stating that Fellows had passed under caution, a move not allowed in most racing series.
Sorenson, who was ailing during the race weekend, needed some time to gather himself for the customary Victory Lane ceremonies, but he was elated to capture the checkered flag.
"I'll do that every race if we have to," Sorenson jokingly said per AP Sports Writer Chris Jenkins' race report.
In reference to Fellows' move during the last lap under caution, Sorenson said, "When the caution comes out, you don't keep racing."
Not surprisingly, Fellows disagreed with the ruling by NASCAR, as he said, "I don't agree with the ruling, but it is what it is. We're still looking for a full interpretation. What I've heard, I won't repeat, because it'll just get me in trouble."
Following the finish of the race, Villeneueve was greeted with displeasure from Scott and Papis when the field headed over to pit lane and the garage area.
First, Scott gave the 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner a few shots to his rear bumper, bumping him a few times towards the entrance of pit road.
Not to be done, Papis, who had some animated words for Villeneuve over the radio, parked his machine next to the Montreal, Qubeec native, as if to voice his frustration towards the aggressive racer.
Ultimately, Sorenson won the race, albeit laced around controversy, which made the race at Road America as an added chapter to the track's storied history of dramatics.
Lost in all the controversy were the solid finishes by series regulars Elliott Sadler and Mike Wallace, who placed fourth and fifth in the final rundown. Certainly, both racers just added on to their solid seasons.
Rounding out the top-10 finishers were two-time Canadian Tire champion Andrew Ranger, Nationwide regulars Michael Annett and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ricky Carmichael, and 2006 CASCAR champion J.R. Fitzpatrick.
Next up in the NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule is Friday night's Subway Jalapeno 250, which will be carried live on on ESPN at 7:30 PM EST.
Now here's a look at the top 10 points standings heading into Daytona Beach, FL:
- Reed Sorenson (Turner/Chevrolet/1 win)
- Elliott Sadler (Harvick/Chevrolet)
- Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (Roush-Fenway/Ford/1 win)
- Justin Allgaier (Turner/Chevrolet/1 win)
- Jason Leffler (Turner/Chevrolet)
- Aric Almirola (JR Motorsports/Chevrolet)
- Kenny Wallace (RAB/Toyota)
- Steve Wallace (RWI/Toyota)
- Brian Scott (Gibbs/Toyota)
- Michael Annett (RWI/Toyota)