Today was supposed to have two practice sessions for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Road America, but heavy rains in the morning delayed proceedings and ultimately caused NASCAR to hold one two-hour practice on the giant, 4.048-mile circuit in Wisconsin.
Goodyear rain tires are on hand for teams, but series officials had indicated that practice was unlikely to occur in wet conditions if tomorrow’s Gardner Denver 200 was to be held in the dry.
The session eventually got underway around 2:15 p.m. ET and ended with Sam Hornish Jr. taking the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to the top of the time sheets ahead of Richard Childress Racing’s Brian Scott and Alex Tagliani, who is driving for Team Penske this weekend.
Hornish, who finished second last weekend at Michigan, posted a fast lap of 108.189 miles per hour to claim top honors by a smidge over Scott and his top lap of 108.183 mph. Tagliani, in Penske’s No. 22 Ford, was not far behind with his best of 108.064 mph.
Regan Smith, the series points leader, was fourth-quickest (107.832) followed by Brendan Gaughan in fifth (107.627).
As for Smith’s JR Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott, he did not post a time during the session due to an engine change in his No. 9 NAPA Chevy.
Elliott is working with Ernie Cope atop the pit box as crew chief this weekend. His regular CC, Greg Ives, is back home with his wife as they welcome their third child.
Qualifying will take place tomorrow at 11:40 a.m. ET, followed by the race itself at 2:45 p.m. ET. A chance of rain is again possible for tomorrow with temperatures around the low to mid 70s.
In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.
Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.
Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.
The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.
“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”
Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.
SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.
When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.
SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.
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