ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (AP) — If it rains Saturday at Road America, Ty Dillon can draw on advice from teammate Brendan Gaughan about how to win on a wet track.
It could be just the edge Dillon needs in chasing leader Chris Buescher atop the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings.
The 45-lap, 182-mile race at Road America is scheduled to begin early Saturday afternoon. The forecast was for rain to fall on the rural Wisconsin track Friday night into early Saturday, with chances diminishing as the day wore on.
That sounds easy easy compared to the wet and wild conditions last season in the race won by Gaughan, Dillon’s Richard Childress Racing teammate.
“He might pray for it, but I’m going to wear him out about it because he’s real good about me learning stuff about the rain,” Dillon said before practice Friday.
Sorry Ty, but Gaughan isn’t about to divulge all his secrets.
“I’ll give him just enough,” Gaughan said, holding up his right hand and leaving barely an inch of space between his thumb and index finger.
The gap at the top of the driver standings is just as narrow.
Buescher is 19 points ahead of Dillon and 23 in front of Chase Elliott heading into the final road-course race of the season.
The Xfinity Series stuffed all three road races into a four-week stretch.
“I think it allows guys to get into a bit more of a rhythm for road racing than you do when you have a bigger break,” said Regan Smith, who is in fourth place and trails Buescher by 51 points. “It should, in theory, make everybody a little better when we come here.”
The winner last year at Mid-Ohio, Buescher is considered a natural on road courses. For Dillon, this season has been somewhat of a breakthrough off the ovals after he finished fifth at Watkins Glen and third at Mid-Ohio.
Mechanical issues plagued Dillon last season at road races. The race Saturday will be just the eighth in the 23-year-old Dillon’s young career.
“Nothing much,” Dillon said about the difference this year. “Second time around, so I’m a little more confident … Hopefully we just minimize the mistakes, no mechanical issues and we should get good finishes.”
Light sprinkles fell during the second of two practice sessions on Friday afternoon, when Paul Menard had the top speed at 108.202 mph. Ben Rhodes had the fastest speed in the first session at 108.500.
Gaughan loved the gray sky. He ran better in the rain last year on his way to winning for the first time in the series in 98 career starts.
“The way the track is built, it’s got a great rain line along with a real fast and technical dry line,” Gaughan said. “This place, you can drive the hell out of the rain line and drive it hard.”
Smith can relate after running second in last year’s race before falling back and finishing 13th after the rain started falling.
“You have to be prepared for all of that,” Smith said. “But it definitely looks like we’ll be playing with some rain at some point this weekend.”
NOTES: Smith, who hasn’t been a regular on the Sprint Cup circuit since 2012, said that he was “working hard every day to figure out” getting back to NASCAR’s top series next year. “I’m fortunate to be in fast cars now and have an amazing opportunity here and I don’t take that for granted,” the JR Motorsports driver said. “At the same time, I want to give myself the opportunity to get back to the other series.” … Menard, who is from Eau Claire, is studying up on the course after returning to Road America for the first time since the inaugural Xfinity race in 2010. “I’ve been kind of a student this week,” Menard said.