NASCAR XFINITY Series teams are racing the US Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway on Saturday, July 29th at 3:30 pm ET. Coverage begins at 3 pm ET on NBC, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Drivers will race 218.75 miles over 250 laps with Stage 1 ending on lap 60, Stage 2 on lap 120, and the last stage ending on the last lap 250.
What to Watch for: NASCAR Next alumnus Ryan Preece makes his second start of the season for Joe Gibbs Racing after finishing second at New Hampshire.
A mere eight races remain to qualify for the 12-driver XFINITY Series playoffs. NASCAR Next driver Ty Majeski makes his second career XFINITY Series start for Roush Fenway Racing.
Two-time Iowa winner Sam Hornish Jr. takes the wheel for Team Penske.
JR Motorsport’s Rising Star William Byron Returns to Iowa Looking for a Sweep
JR Motorsport’s William Byron is quickly becoming one of the most popular rising stars in the XFINITY Series, and this weekend the young juggernaut returns to Iowa Speedway looking to become just the second driver in series history to sweep both Iowa Speedway races in a single season; joining former series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (who won three straight – 2011 sweep and 2012 June race).
Byron broke into the win column for the first time in his XFINITY Series career when he first visited Iowa back in June. Since then the 19-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina has added two more wins to his resume – at Daytona International Speedway (July race) and last weekend’s victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I haven’t seen a driver win in everything he gets in like (William) Byron is doing right now since Jeff Gordon,” said NBC analyst and former driver Kyle Petty following Byron’s victory at Indianapolis.
The high praise isn’t surprising considering the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender has posted one pole, three wins, seven top-fives, 12 top-tens and an average finish of 9.5 in 18 XFINITY Series starts this season. But to put his ascension into success in even more perspective, consider this: In 42 NASCAR national series starts he has ten wins (three NXS, seven NCWTS) – a 23.8% winning percentage (tied with Greg Biffle for the ninth-most wins all-time in a driver’s first 42 NASCAR national series starts).
Byron is not only exceptional on track, he also understands what it took to get where he is.
“Great people,” said Byron. “You have got to have good people around you, and Rudy Fugle (Byron’s crew chief last season in the NCWTS) is a pretty awesome guy, and he taught me a lot last year. We had a really good combination, and we took what we learned and applied it to this year and Dave (Elenz, this season’s NXS crew chief) is excellent. Dave is a great engineer and great crew chief that makes excellent pit strategy calls. I feel like we are starting to get that confidence up between the two of us, and that is starting to lead to a lot of success,” Byron said.
This weekend will be Byron’s second series start at Iowa Speedway, in his series track debut earlier this season on the 0.875-mile track, he started sixth, led 78 laps and won with a driver rating of 131.2.
If Byron pulls off the sweep this weekend at Iowa, he will be one win closer to the series’ rookie season record for wins of five; held by Greg Biffle (2001), Carl Edwards (2005) and Kyle Busch (2004). Erik Jones posted four wins in his rookie season last year.
NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs are Inching Ever Closer
Another weekend in the books, and now the XFINITY Series turns to Iowa Speedway for the U.S. Cellular 250 Presented by American Ethanol; which means just eight races are left for the championship contending drivers to guarantee themselves a spot in the post-season.
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Regular Season Winners
Three series contenders have posted wins this season. Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender William Byron has tallied three victories (Iowa-1, Daytona-2, and Indianapolis) this season, and currently, holds the No. 1 seed in the XFINITY Series playoffs.
Byron’s JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier (won at Phoenix) and Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Reed (season-opening victory at Daytona) are the other two title contenders with regular season wins this season.
Earlier this season at Iowa Speedway (July) – Byron won, Allgaier finished ninth and Reed finished 19th.
Winless Playoff Contenders
Elliott Sadler leads the cavalcade of nine drivers who are currently winless in the 2017 regular season but are trying to hang on to their playoff contention with their driver standings points. All nine drivers are looking for their first win of the season this weekend at Iowa Speedway. Of the nine, Sadler is the only former Iowa winner (2012 from the pole).
- Elliott Sadler (No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet) currently has the largest sum of points (351) separating himself and the playoff cutoff (13th position in the points). Sadler has made 13 starts at Iowa, posting three poles, one win (2012), seven top-fives and 13 top-tens. His average finish on the 0.875-mile track is a stellar 5.4.
- Brennan Poole (No. 48 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) has the second biggest points cushion (159) ahead of 13th in the driver standings following Indianapolis. Poole has made five starts at Iowa, posting one top-five and two top-tens.
- Daniel Hemric (No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) currently sits 144 points ahead of 13th in the driver standings following Indianapolis. Hemric made his series track debut at Iowa earlier this season; starting 11th and finishing 21st.
- Cole Custer (No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) is currently 121 points ahead of 13th in the driver standings after the 18th race of the season. Custer made his series track debut earlier this season at Iowa starting 24th and finishing 24th.
- Matt Tifft (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) has a 100-point cushion over 13th in the driver standings following Indianapolis. Tifft also made his series track debut at Iowa earlier this season, starting ninth and finishing 22nd.
- Dakoda Armstrong (No. 28 JGL Racing Toyota) is just 54 points ahead of 13th in the driver standings following Indianapolis. Armstrong has made seven series starts at Iowa posting two top-fives and an average finish of 15.1.
- Michael Annett (No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet) is just 53 points ahead of 13th in the driver standings following Indianapolis. Annett has made nine series starts at Iowa posting one top-five, three top-tens and an average finish of 12.1.
- Blake Koch (No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet) is a mere 30 points ahead of 13th in the driver standings following Indianapolis. Koch has made 12 series starts at Iowa posting an average finish of 26.7.
- Brendan Gaughan (No. 62 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) currently holds the final playoff spot by just 15 points over Ryan Sieg in the 13th position. Gaughan has made 11 starts at Iowa, posting one top-five, three top-tens and an average finish of 15.4.
Quick Facts: NASCAR and Iowa
This weekend’s U.S. Cellular 250 Presented by American Ethanol will be the 16th running of the event at Iowa Speedway. The state of Iowa has been very welcoming to NASCAR, and here are some of the highlights and quick facts about the two over the years.
In total, there have been 27 NASCAR national series races held in the state of Iowa (MENCS one, NXS 15 and NCWTS 11).
The very first NASCAR national series race held in the state of Iowa was a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on August 2, 1953, at Davenport Speedway in Davenport, Iowa. The 200-lap race was won by Herb Thomas in a Hudson. The event still is the only Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race held in the state of Iowa.
The first of 15 XFINITY Series races held in the state of Iowa was on August 1, 2009, at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Brad Keselowski won the inaugural event driving for JR Motorsports (Chevrolet). Every XFINITY Series event held in the state of Iowa has been at Iowa Speedway.
NASCAR XFINITY Series at Iowa Speedway
Coors Light Pole Winners: nine
Youngest Pole Winner: Trevor Bayne (07/31/2010 – 19 years, 5 months 12 days)
Oldest Pole Winner: Elliott Sadler (08/04/2012 – 37 years, 3 months, 5 days)
Race Winners: ten
Youngest Winner: William Byron (06/24/2017 – 19 years, 5 months, 26 days)
Oldest Winner: Elliott Sadler (08/04/2012 – 37 years, 3 months, 5 days)
Races Won from Pole (or 1st starting position): 1 – Elliott Sadler (2012)
Race Record: Elliott Sadler, 115.622 MPH (08/04/2012)
Qualifying Record: Austin Dillon 136.737 MPH (06/09/2013)
Closest Margin of Victory: 0.066 seconds (08/06/2011)
Iowan Drivers in NASCAR
A total of 30 drivers that have made at least one start in a NASCAR national series has their home state recorded as Iowa. 25 of the 30 (83.3%) Iowan drivers have made at least one start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Only eight of the 30 Iowan drivers have made a start in the XFINITY Series; led by Michael Annett with 181 starts. Seven of the 30 Iowan drivers have competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Of the 30 drivers, only three have won in NASCAR national series competition; none in the XFINITY Series – Dick Hutcherson from Keokuk, Iowa has 14 MENCS wins; Johnny Beauchamp from Harlan, Iowa has one MENCS win and Brett Moffitt from Grimes, Iowa has one NCWTS win.
Three Iowa natives will be attempting to compete this weekend: Michael Annett (Des Moines), Brett Moffit (Grimes) and Joey Gase (Cedar Rapids) are entered in Saturday’s race.
Iowa Speedway is the Perfect Stage for a Series Part-Timer
Several series part-timers will try their hand at taking the checkered flag in Iowa.
Richard Childress Racing:
Brian Scott returns from a six-month retirement to make his season series debut in the No. 3 RCR Chevrolet with crew chief Matt Swiderski this weekend at Iowa. Scott’s last XFINITY Series start was at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2015; where he started and finished, fourth. He has made 11 series starts at Iowa, posting two top-fives, five top-tens and an average finish of 12.6.
Ben Kennedy, great-grandson of Bill France Sr. and grandson to Bill France Jr., will be making his tenth start of the season this weekend at Iowa and his fifth for Richard Childress Racing in 2017. Kennedy has made two career series starts at Iowa posting one top-ten and an average finish 15.0. Kennedy started 21st and finished 20th at Iowa for RCR earlier this season. Kennedy will be strapping into the No. 3 RCR Chevrolet this weekend at Iowa with crew chief Randall Burnett.
Joe Gibbs Racing:
Ryan Preece returns to the series for his second start of the season for Joe Gibbs Racing. Preece’s series season debut at New Hampshire a few weeks ago was quite impressive, as he started sixth and finished runner-up to the series wins leader Kyle Busch. Preece has two series starts at Iowa driving for Johnny Davis, but both resulted in incidents relegating him to finishes outside the top-30. Preece will be in the No. 20 JGR Toyota with crew chief Chris Gabehart this weekend.
Kyle Benjamin is also back, hoping to get a solid finish this weekend as his first three results don’t show how well the young talent has been running this season. With an average starting position of 1.7, but an average finish of 26.3, Benjamin is looking for his first good finish and is hoping Iowa Speedway will give it to him. Earlier this season, Benjamin qualified second at Iowa but was caught in an accident that put him nine laps down and ultimately relegated him to a 31st-place finish. Benjamin will be in the No. 18 JGR Toyota with crew chief Eric Phillips this weekend.
Sam Hornish Jr. heads to Iowa with the best chance of winning amongst the series part-timers this weekend. Hornish has made ten series starts at Iowa, posting two wins (2014, 2016), six top-fives, seven top-tens and an average finish of 9.4. He will be in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford with crew chief Greg Erwin this weekend.
Chip Ganassi Racing:
Tyler Reddick has made 10 starts this season, posting one top-five and three top-10s driving the No. 42 CGR Chevrolet. Reddick made his series track debut at Iowa earlier this season and, in impressive fashion, drove from a 15th starting position to a third-place finish (his only top-five finish of 2017). Reddick will be working with crew chief Mike Shiplett this weekend.
Roush Fenway Racing:
Ty Majeski will be making his second start of the season for Roush Fenway Racing at Iowa Speedway this weekend. Majeski made his series debut at Iowa earlier this season in the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, starting tenth but was caught in an accident that forced him to finish 34th. Majeski will be working with Seth Barbour as crew chief.