The scheduled 50-lap race on Road America’s 4.048-mile road course needed three green-white-checkered-flag attempts to determine a winner, and even on Lap 57, it was difficult to see that Reed Sorenson had won his first race since 2007.
For most of the afternoon, the race was relatively clean. Then came the final laps, and Road America morphed into something resembling a demolition derby, forcing the maximum overtime attempts allowed to determine the winner.
The race ended under caution, which was fitting considering all the pushing, grinding and shoving that sent countless cars into the road course’s expansive gravel traps.
It also ended under a cloud of uncertainty—and drama.
Justin Allgaier took the white flag and had the lead when the seventh and final caution was thrown because Aric Almirola’s No. 88 Chevrolet had stopped on the track in Turn 5. But Allgaier ran out of gas in Turn 6, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether Sorenson or Ron Fellows had inherited the lead—even though Sorenson was running second behind Allgaier and Fellows third.
Before declaring the winner, NASCAR officials took an extra look at the video feeds. They determined that Fellows had moved ahead of Sorenson after the yellow had been thrown, thus giving the win to Sorenson.
“This is not the place I thought I’d win a race,” Sorenson said. “I’d never been here before.”
The restarts produced by the green-white-checkers contributed to the late race mayhem, Sorenson said.
“It’s easy for the guys to get bundled up and have wrecks,” he said. “We were able to capitalize on that. When the last caution came out, Justin was first, and we were second. We were able to break away and stay in second place. Justin ran out of gas in Turn 6, and we were able to make it around and even have some gas left for some doughnuts.”
Fellows, who was scored second, was disappointed with his result.
“We got ourselves in a little bit of trouble, anyway,” he said. “For whatever reason, on the restarts toward the end, I just couldn’t get any forward traction.”
Jacques Villeneuve, who had an eventful afternoon, Elliott Sadler and Mike Wallace rounded out the top five.
Villeneuve was apologetic for a Turn 1 incident on the first GWC attempt. The incident put Max Papis and Brian Scott out of the race. On the restart, Villeneuve attempted to move to the inside of Scott only to run out of pavement where the Road America’s pit lane blends with the front straight. Villeneuve drifted back and bumped into the right rear fender of Scott, which sent Scott into Papis and both into the gravel on the outside of Turn 1.
“When I put two wheels on the grass, I really didn’t want to be there,” Villeneuve said.
The win pushed Sorenson up two spots and into first in the standings by five points over Sadler. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished eighth and dropped from first to third. Allgaier finished 19th and remained fourth in the standings but is now 34 points behind the leader.