The best part of summer?
For racer Preston Pardus, it‘s a steady schedule of NASCAR Xfinity Series action, starting with Saturday‘s Henry 180 at Road America.
Pardus‘ lone Xfinity start so far this season came March 26 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
“That seems like last year by now,” he said of his seventh-place qualifying effort and 14th-place finish.
Suffice it to say the three-time SCCA national champion is rarin‘ to rock at Road America, which in 2019 was the scene of his stock-car racing debut. Saturday‘s race will mark the fourth consecutive year he will have competed at the iconic facility in Xfinity action. The 4.048-mile layout is one of his favorite tracks in America, and it was the scene of an SCCA National Championships victory in 2020.
“It‘s comforting to be going back to a track where I‘ve got three years of Xfinity experience, plus the many times I‘ve raced there in SCCA,” said the Daytona Beach, Florida, native. “They haven‘t really changed the layout since they built the track, so it‘s one of those traditional North American road courses, which is sweet.
“It‘s super fast, with long straightaways, and it‘s a narrow track, so that makes it seem even faster. It‘s a fun place.”
Road America opened in 1955, and NASCAR‘s premier Cup division visited there a year later, with Tim Flock notching the win. The track has been a staple on the Xfinity schedule for more than a decade, with NASCAR bringing its Triple-A competitors there annually since 2010. The defending event champion is Kyle Busch.
Pardus recently got lap time at Road America during the June Sprints, when he brought a brand-new Spec Miata home in fifth. In the 2020 Xfinity show there, he led in the late stages, and he brought his Chevrolet home eighth in only his fourth start in a stock car.
Now, he‘s eager to bring that same car to Road America for another shot at victory.
“I‘m feeling good after a solid run at COTA in practice and qualifying,” he said of the Austin showing. “We didn‘t really have the pace we needed in the race, but I think we found some stuff we can work on and be better when it comes to race pace.
“We have something to lean on now when we go to Road America, and where I really struggled the first couple of years was not having experience in these cars. It‘s nice when we can show up at the track and know the direction we want to go with the set-up. Now I know what the car needs rather than feeling like I‘m guessing at it. The notebook is definitely thicker.”
And for the first time since 1956, NASCAR‘s Cup division is participating at Road America. That addition to the weekend is a plus, as far as Pardus is concerned.
“It definitely adds to the event — the atmosphere and being there with the Cup guys,” he said. “You get some Cup guys in our race, too, so it‘s always nice to see how you stack up against those guys.”
— DGM Racing —