It is not uncommon for NASCAR teams to field specialists for the road course races. In the case of the Xfinity Series‘ Henry 180 at Road America on Saturday, there will be a pair of series newcomers. In fact, one of the two is a new face to NASCAR as a whole.
According to the initial entry list released on Monday, IndyCar Series driver RC Enerson and Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series racer Jesse Iwuji will make their Xfinity débuts. Enerson will drive the #07 Chevrolet Camaro for SS-Green Light Racing, while Iwuji is in the #13 Toyota Supra for MBM Motorsports.
The 2014 U.S. F2000 runner-up, Enerson has four career starts in the IndyCar Series, all at road courses. His latest race was a seventeenth-place finish at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Carlin in 2019, while his best finish is ninth at Watkins Glen International in 2016 for Dale Coyne Racing.
“We’re going @XfinityRacing this weekend @roadamerica in the 07 car,” Enerson tweeted. “It’s going to be interesting with no practice or qualifying. I’m going to have to learn on the fly.”
Iwuji, a Navy officer and veteran of the now-ARCA Menards Series West, has made raced in the Truck Series on a part-time basis since 2018, primarily competing for Reaume Brothers Racing. He has two starts in 2020, finishing thirty-ninth and twenty-eighth at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway, respectively.
Like his Xfinity plans, Iwuji’s Truck début came on a road course when he finished twenty-fifth in the 2018 Canadian Tire Motorsports Park event.
After its regular driver Ray Black Jr. scaled back his schedule midseason to focus on his family business in the wake of COVID-19, the #07 has been driven by multiple drivers in alliance with Rick Ware Racing. Chad Finchum usually drives the #13, though Timmy Hill took over for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course date in July; like at Indianapolis, Finchum will drive the #66 at Road America.
Five other drivers are also set to either run their first or second race of the season, depending on if they had competed in the Indianapolis event. Such drivers also fall under the road course ringer label, though they vary in experience.
Mike Wallace returns to the #0 for JD Motorsports. The longtime NASCAR veteran made his return to the series after a five-year absence at Indianapolis, where he finished twenty-fourth. He will also run the Daytona International Speedway road course event the following week.
Driving the #02 Our Motorsports machine is Andy Lally, who will run the Road America and Daytona events. The 2012 Cup Series Rookie of the Year and sports car racer has competed exclusively on road courses in the Xfinity Series with five top tens in eleven starts, including a best run of fifth at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2017. The Henry 180 will be his first NASCAR start since 2018.
With Enerson in the #07, Jade Buford will serve as Wallace’s team-mate at JD in the #6. The IMSA racer finished fourteenth in his NASCAR début at Indy. The #6 has primarily been driven by B.J. McLeod in 2020.
In the #36 DGM Racing Camaro will be Preston Pardus. The son of former NASCAR driver Dan Pardus, Preston was the 2017 SCCA Spec Miata National Champion, and all three of his Xfinity starts have been road events. He finished thirty-sixth in his first race at Road America in 2019, but scored his first top ten in the Indianapolis race.
Although McLeod will miss the Road America race, his B.J. McLeod Motorsports operation will field the #78 for ringer Scott Heckert, replacing usual driver Vinnie Miller. Heckert’s three career ARCA East wins are all at road courses, while all but two of his Xfinity attempts were on such courses. His best finish is thirteenth at Watkins Glen in 2019, while he finished twenty-ninth in both of his Road America runs.
While he has run more than just road courses in 2020, one should never count out A.J. Allmendinger in such races. The longtime NASCAR driver has three Xfinity victories on road courses. In a part-time schedule with Kaulig Racing for 2020, he scored his first NASCAR oval win at Atlanta Motor Speedway in June, while he finished fourth at Indianapolis.