Pressure mounts on Smith as NASCAR Nationwide races in Chicago Sunday

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An off weekend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series means the NASCAR Nationwide Series will have its day in the spotlight.

The Nationwide Series’ STP 300 at Chicagoland Speedway this Sunday may see the championship lead change hands.

Just five points separates Regan Smith from Sam Hornish Jr. (594-589), and the top five are covered by just 24 points. Austin Dillon (582), Justin Allgaier (574) and Elliott Sadler (570) are all in striking range, as they all seek their first wins of the season.

Sadler dropped the hammer on Smith after Loudon last weekend, when he told Smith directly after a post-race confrontation, point blank, “You will not win this championship, mark my word.” More on that kerfuffle is here from NASCAR.com.

Brian Vickers, who’s sixth in points, looks to ride the momentum of his Cup win at Loudon last weekend and translate it to the Nationwide side. Despite driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, he too is yet to visit victory lane in his full-time ride this year.

Dillon, Vickers, Brian Scott and Michael Annett have some extra incentive this weekend as the four qualifiers for Nationwide’s $100,000 “Dash 4 Cash” bonus. It’s the third of four races in the summer stretch, where the highest-finishing eligible driver wins a $100,000 bonus above and beyond the race purse. In addition, fans can also enter to win $100,000 and a trip to Indianapolis Motor Speedway through the NASCAR Nationwide Series $100k Sweepstakes.

Wickens tops final Road America practice

Photo: IndyCar
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Robert Wickens showed the way in final practice for Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix, topping the speed charts with a quick time of 1:42.991, the only time below 1:43 during the session.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud, Alexander Rossi, and Graham Rahal completed the top five.

The lone incident of the session came right at the end, when Zach Veach went for a spin exiting Bill Mitchell Bend (turn 13). However, Veach did not suffer any damage in the incident.

Times are below. Qualifying begins at 4:00 p.m. ET (3:00 p.m. local time) and will air on NBCSN at 6:30 p.m. ET.

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