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The NASCAR Nationwide Series is returning to Road America for the fifth time, for Saturday’s Gardner Denver 200 Fired Up by Johnsonville. (Photo: Getty Images)

The NASCAR Nationwide Series is returning to Road America for the fifth time, for Saturday’s Gardner Denver 200 Fired Up by Johnsonville.

Four different drivers have visited Victory Lane since the series made its debut at the Elkhart Lake, Wis., road course back in 2010.  Carl Edwards won the inaugural race with Reed Sorenson, Nelson Piquet Jr. and AJ Allmendinger subsequently victorious.

There’s been one common thread through all four Road America visits: intense, tight and sometimes wild competition.

Edwards took the lead from Jacques Villeneuve with nine laps to go in the 2010 edition which included a red flag for 37 minutes thanks to a nine car pileup early in the race.  Sorenson was the beneficiary of Justin Allgaier running out of fuel while leading after multiple green-white-checkered attempts in 2011.

Piquet survived the 2012 race to score his first career NASCAR victory on a day that featured more rough-and-tumble racing including a celebrated incident between Villeneuve and Danica Patrick while racing inside the top five.

Last year, Allmendinger prevailed in an overtime finish to beat Allgaier to the checkered flag.  With such a track record, it’s no wonder drivers are looking forward to what’s in store this weekend.

Series points leader Regan Smith is hoping this year’s trip to Road America is better than last year’s, when he finished 32nd after a particularly frustrating day in "The Badger State."

"Going to Road America is about trying to get some redemption," said Smith.  "For whatever reason, I've been in the wrong places at the wrong times.  I really enjoy road racing.  I've not had the best of luck at it, but I enjoy doing it.

"The test is learning how to be in the right place at the right time and learning how to finish off one of those races.  Finding that fine line between being as aggressive as other guys are, but also not going out there and going against what I believe is the proper way to race, is going to be the challenge."

Elliott Sadler is 14 points behind Smith in second place heading into the first of three road-course races this season.  Like Smith, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver enjoys road racing but unlike his competitor, Sadler has enjoyed success at Road America.  He’s had a top five and two top-10 finishes in three career starts there.

"It’s fun to go through the gears, slide into the turns and turn right, which we rarely do during the season," Sadler said.  "People ask me, ‘What's the best road-course advice I’ve received?’  My answer?  You have to stay on the track.  I was told that simple line early in my career, but it makes perfect sense.

"Be smart, stay out of potential trouble situations, stay on the track and you’ll have the best chance to compete for the win.  I hope my road-course experience will shine Saturday afternoon."

Motor Racing Network – "The Voice of NASCAR" – will have live coverage of the Nationwide Series from Road America.  Air time for Saturday’s Gardner Denver 200 is 2:15 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Nationwide Series

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