In an intriguing race last Sunday at Nashville Superspeedway, Chase Elliott became the fifth two-time winner in the NASCAR Cup Series this season.
As NASCAR celebrates Independence Day at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., Elliott has an excellent chance to become the first three-time winner with a victory in Sunday's Kwik Trip 250 presented by JOCKEY Made In America (3 p.m. ET on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
After all, the driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is the defending winner of the race, and only the second driver to triumph at Road America in NASCAR's premier division, the first being NASCAR Hall of Famer Tim Flock in 1956.
Consider also that seven of Elliott's 15 Cup victories have come on road courses -- two each at Watkins Glen and the Charlotte Roval and one each at the Daytona Road Course, Circuit of The Americas and Road America.
One more road course win will tie Elliott with Tony Stewart for second-most in series history. Jeff Gordon leads the series with nine victories on circuits that turn right as well as left.
Elliott is the pre-race favorite at BetMGM, where he is being offered at 450 and leads the field with 19.4 percent of the handle backing him to win.
At 4.048 miles, Road America is a mammoth track with 14 turns. The expansive property can accommodate a huge contingent of fans, as it did last year in the Cup Series' return to the track.
"I felt like the people up there welcomed us with open arms and brought a lot of energy," Elliott said. "Any time you have energy at the track, it makes it fun for everybody involved -- whether you're working inside the sport, you're a driver, you're another fan there -- it just makes for a better event, better environment.
"Last year, I felt, was a great example of that. I hope that's the case again this weekend. I hope the results are the same this weekend and everybody has a big time."
Though the huge course gives fans a chance to spread out -- and watch from trees if they so desire -- the 14 distinct corners provide a formidable challenge with respect to the setups of the cars.
"Braking zones are the first things that come to mind there," said Alan Gustafson, Elliott's crew chief. "You need to be good in those. There are some really big braking zones that are difficult. The car needs to be able to change direction well and have stability at the same time.
"You can't swing the back to change directions. If you do that, then there's more the driver has to manage. There's also the course intricacies that you have to prepare for. There's a few tight 90-degree corners, the carousel, the kink -- a high-speed left. That's what makes it so difficult. There are so many styles of corners there that make it harder."
The field for Sunday's race includes 13 different road course winners: Elliott, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, AJ Allmendinger, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin, Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez.
Of those drivers, only Allmendinger is not competing for points in the Cup Series.
There's a lot at stake for Blaney, Truex, Bell and Harvick, all of whom are winless this year but all of whom currently are inside the bubble for Playoff spots, based on championship points. Of the four, Harvick is in the most precarious position. He leads Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola, the first driver currently out of a Playoff-eligible position, by nine points.
Kyle Busch is BetMGM's second-biggest liability ahead of the race. Offered at 1000, he has been backed by the most total bets (8.0 percent) and is second with 14.9 percent of the handle after opening at 1200. Larson has also drawn 14.9 percent of the handle and has the second-shortest pre-race odds at 700.
BetMGM's biggest liability ahead of the race is Bubba Wallace. The 35000 longshot has been backed by 3.4 percent of the beets and 1.3 percent of the handle.
NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Kwik Trip 250 presented by JOCKEY Made in America
The Place: Road America
The Date: Sunday, July 3
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
The Purse: $7,145,001
TV: USA, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 250.98 miles (62 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 15), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 30), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 62)
--Field Level Media (NASCAR NewsWire contributed to this story)