OBSERVATIONS: Johnsonville 180

Fans have been begging for more road courses and short tracks with Road America being one of those mentioned. Saturday’s Johnsonville 180 for the NASCAR XFINITY Series proved why.

Although the event was dry at parts with the field single-file, the battles for position that broke out in the second half were worth every single penny of admission. They were close, with drivers trying to out-smart each other through the 14-turn course en route to the checkered flag.

There may have been more battles than giving credit for, which perhaps would result in the event having a higher grade, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell watching NBCSN’s broadcast. The course may be four miles in length, but we need to rid of some of the commercials here. Furthermore, saying that they’re part of “NASCAR non-stop” does not make them less painful. Combined with Dave Burns and Dale Jarrett in the booth, and this was one of their poorest events. 

James Davison almost played the role of spoiler, closing on Justin Allgaier in the late stages. However, a mistake was costly and proved to be too much for him to overcome as the JR Motorsports driver cruised to his fourth win of the season. If there was any question about Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s organization and their strength after a quiet summer, those questions are now being erased as we near the playoffs.

The final couple of races before they begin will prove to be interesting between Allgaier and Christopher Bell, though, with only a mere five points separating them for the regular season championship. Bell entered Road America with the advantage, but contact from competitors on two occasions handed him a poor finish.

He was first knocked-off the road after contact with Allgaier, followed by being punted around by Matt Tifft. For the record, though, he still gets our accolade of the day for how he handled the first incident.

You can’t just let this event go without speaking of the special drivers whom entered the fray for a one-off. While Bill Elliott stole some of the headlines, Katherine Legge and Conor Daly left the lasting impression.

Legge ran up front in the top-five following a strategy play before fading back due to a spin; however, she managed to fight her way back to a top-15 which is commendable in her second career series start. Meanwhile, Daly ran as high as 10th in his first ever XFINITY race until getting caught up in an incident not of his making late. It’d be nice to see both of these drivers get more opportunities as they proved they can run right there with the best.

There’s also this one lasting thought to think about, too, especially if we’re getting more road courses.



The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.


ASHLEY ASKS….. Katherine Legge

Completing in a variety of motorsports disciplines, from sportscar to open-wheel, Katherine Legge has made a name for herself. This season brings a new challenge, though, as she will compete in three NASCAR road course events.

Ahead of her second NASCAR XFINITY Series start at Road America, the JD Motorsports driver shared her thoughts with POPULAR SPEED.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts going into Road America?

KATHERINE LEGGE: So I’m super excited to be going to Road America for my second race. I have Mid-Ohio under my belt and I have a great team behind me. It’s a track I know well so I’m looking forward to it a lot.

PS: Why did you make the decision to try stock cars for the next step of your career?

KL: I’ve always wanted to drive a stock car. I’ve got my teammate Justin Marks, and one of my best friends Andy Lally telling me how awesome it is, and honestly I had so much fun in Mid-Ohio that they were absolutely right. It was just the right thing that came along at the right time, and I am fortunate to have the right people around me. My good friends Steve and Eileen that have supported me. It was just one of those things that came together at the right time.

Barry Cantrell | NKP

PS: What was the biggest surprise, and perhaps your biggest takeaway, from your XFINITY debut at Mid-Ohio?

KL: I don’t think anything was a surprise just because I didn’t know what to expect. I had it explained to me about the brakes, and about how heavy the cars were, so I don’t think anything was a surprise – no, just the biggest surprise was I’ve been racing for many years and I think I know what I am supposed to do, but I had no idea where I was supposed to go. It was all new. The biggest surprise was being such a rookie.

PS: Now would you be interested in running an oval down the road?

KL: Absolutely. I want to race in racing where I win, and I want to race anything and everything that will give me an opportunity to win. I love racing; I have a passion for it, and I’ve really enjoyed my time with Johnny Davis Motorsports in Mid-Ohio. If that was to lead to ovals, that’d be awesome.

PS: You’ve ran a lot of different series in your career. What still remains on the bucket list?

KL: I’ve always said I wanted to do Bathurst in V8 (Supercars) and I’d love to do LeMan, so there the two races that I kind of still want to do. I’ve got a deal to drive a Formula E car next year, so that’s going to be kind of cool and diverse to. So there’s a few other things that I want to do – Indianapolis 500 is still on my list; there’s a whole bunch of things.

PS: What does it mean to you to be inspiring the next generation of female racers?


KL: I never went into racing having that in my mind that I’d be a role model in any shape or form, but I think I’ve done it responsibly. I went into racing purely selfishly to compete and win for me, and then I realized I was in the public eye, and I would be influencing females coming up through go-karting. It’s an important role, and I take it very seriously. I always want them to look at me as a positive role model, and never do anything that they’d think is questionable. I just try to do the most professional job that I can do.

PS: How did you get started in racing?

KL: I started racing go-karts when I was nine.

PS: Looking through your career to date, what’s been your most memorable moment?

KL: I’ve had a few memorable moments. I had a big accident at Elkhart Lake – Road America, where I am racing this weekend in the kink where my rear wing flew off in an IndyCar. I’ve had some memorable wins – Long Beach, my first open-wheel win back in 2005. Right now, fighting for a championship. There’s been so many; I can’t pick just one as there’s really been a dozen high points of my career, and if not high points, really memorable points.



The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.