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IMS Writers’ Roundtable, Vol. 22: Best NASCAR Road Racer?

Today’s question: The NASCAR Cup Series just finished its third road-course race of the season last Sunday at Sonoma Raceway. The Cup Series also will race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for the first time Sunday, Aug. 15. Who is the best Cup Series road racer right now?

Curt Cavin: Chase Elliott is probably the best answer, and I couldn’t argue with Kyle Larson as they have been the top-two finishers in the past two Cup road races, including last weekend’s event at Sonoma Raceway. But don’t sleep on Joey Logano. Roger Penske’s driver has been dominant over the years at Watkins Glen International, winning a Cup race and three Xfinity races, and he has finished second, third and fourth, respectively, in the three Cup road races this season. Another driver for the conversation is Martin Truex Jr.; he often finds himself in victory lane at these road races.

Zach Horrall: The driver to keep your eyes on when the NASCAR Cup Series hits the 2.439-mile IMS road course is Martin Truex Jr. The 2017 series champion was NASCAR’s “road course king” before Chase Elliott found his groove, with three wins at Sonoma and one at Watkins Glen. He had an average Daytona Road Course race in February, finishing 12th, but he was third there last year. He had tough luck at Circuit of The Americas last month but finished third last weekend in wine country. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver already has three wins this season. Odds are, he’s going to rack up some more this summer, and I would bet Indy is one of them.

Paul Kelly: The number don’t lie – it’s Chase Elliott. The son of Awesome Bill from Dawsonville and the reigning Cup Series champion has won three of the last five Cup Series races with left and right turns. And he finished second in one of the races he didn’t win. It’s interesting to see Elliott’s progression into a road warrior. He earned his first NASCAR national touring series victory in 2013 on a road course at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Ontario while driving in the Camping World Truck Series but then never won a road race in two full seasons in the Xfinity Series. But something clicked once he got into a Cup car, as his first career Cup victory came in 2018 at Watkins Glen, a win he repeated in 2019. He also doubled up at the Charlotte roval in 2019 and 2020. Six of Elliott’s 12 career Cup wins have come on road courses. No question, he’s NASCAR’s current king of the road.

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