Alex Tagliani on pole for today’s Nationwide race at Road America

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Alex Tagliani will seek his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory from the pole position in this afternoon’s Gardner Denver 200 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Tagliani, who won at Road America in an open-wheel Champ Car back in 2004, turned in a time of 134.411 seconds in the final round of qualifying around the giant, 4-mile circuit.

It marks his second Nationwide Series pole in five starts (Montreal, 2012).

The fact that Tagliani is starting from pole isn’t a surprise considering his road-racing skills and the fact that he’s driving the No. 22 Team Penske Ford that won all three Nationwide road course events last year.

But the other front-row starter may be a surprise: 18-year-old Dylan Kwasniewski, whose lap of 134.513 seconds was good for second on the grid.

Kwasniewski has had a tough year so far with just one Top-10 and 3 DNFs in the first 13 races. It will be interesting to see if he can stay patient on this tricky course. If he does, he might get the result that turns his season around.

Series points leader Regan Smith will try to keep hold on the championship from the inside of Row 2. Lining up beside him is Joe Gibbs Racing part-timer Sam Hornish Jr.

A pair of Richard Childress Racing drivers make up Row 3, with Brendan Gaughan on the inside and Brian Scott on the outside.

Another RCR driver, Ty Dillon, and Justin Marks are in Row 4, followed by Chris Buescher and Andy Lally in Row 5. Lally is a regular in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

Elliott Sadler, who sits 14 points behind Smith in the NNS title race, is starting 11th to match his car number. Chase Elliott qualified 12th after missing yesterday’s practice due to an engine change.

Today’s Nationwide race will take the green flag around 2:45 p.m. ET.

NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES AT ROAD AMERICA – STARTING LINEUP

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.