Chase Elliott to have substitute crew chief at Road America, misses practice due to engine change

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Chase Elliott will have a new voice in his ear for Saturday’s Gardner Denver 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at central Wisconsin’s Road America.

Regular crew chief Greg Ives didn’t make the trip and remained home in North Carolina with wife Jessica, who is expecting the couple’s third child.

Elliott and JR Motorsports didn’t have to look far for a replacement for Ives.

Ernie Cope, who usually serves as the crew chief for the JR Motorsports No. 5 NNS team, which fields different drivers, will fill in for Ives because the No. 5 is not competing at Road America.

The new pairing will have their work cut out for themselves: Elliott couldn’t practice Friday due to an engine change, plus NASCAR officials condensed the two scheduled practices into just one two-hour session due to rain.

This will be Elliott’s second race at the twisting 4.048-mile Road America layout. He competed in last year’s ARCA race there, finishing fourth.

“Road America is a very unique place,” Elliott told NASCAR.com. “You don’t find many road courses that big with so many characteristics. It’s easy to make mistakes at a big place like that. One lap has so many different variables to it and you certainly have to prove your worth on Saturday.”

Elliott already has one road course win, in last year’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in Canada.

“I’ve always enjoyed road racing,” Elliott said. “It has always been really fun for me. My dad has always enjoyed it. He’s been a big fan of it and that’s probably where I got my liking from.

“It’s really cool because it’s something we don’t get to do a whole lot of. Fortunately for us (in the Nationwide Series), we get to race at three road courses (Mid-Ohio and Watkins Glen International are the others) this season.”

Elliott is currently third in the NNS standings, 20 points behind JRM teammate and points leader Regan Smith.

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IndyCar 2017 driver review: All posts, one place

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In case you missed any of MotorSportsTalk’s extensive 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series driver-by-driver reviews on NBCSports.com, we’ve combined them all into one post.

See the full rankings below. Of the 38 drivers that raced at least once this year, 23 of them ran anywhere from six races to the full 17-race schedule, and got a full review. Drivers who competed in four or fewer races were packaged into the “remaining part-timers” post.

1. Josef Newgarden
2. Simon Pagenaud
3. Scott Dixon
4. Helio Castroneves
5. Will Power
6. Graham Rahal
7. Alexander Rossi
8. Takuma Sato
9. Ryan Hunter-Reay
10. Tony Kanaan
11. Max Chilton
12. Marco Andretti
13. James Hinchcliffe
14. Ed Jones
15. JR Hildebrand
16. Carlos Munoz
17. Charlie Kimball
18. Conor Daly
19. Mikhail Aleshin
20. Spencer Pigot / 22. Ed Carpenter
21. Sebastien Bourdais / 25. Esteban Gutierrez
23-24, 26-38. All the rest