NASCAR Xfinity Series, Iowa 250 presented by Enogen at Iowa Preview

NASCAR Xfinity Series teams are revving up for the Iowa 250 presented by Enogen at Iowa Speedway on Sunday, June 17th at 5 pm ET. Pre-race coverage is available on FOX Sports 1, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio starting at 4:30 pm ET.

The race is 250 laps covering a distance of 218.75 miles with Stage 1 ending on lap 60, Stage 2 on lap 120, and the last stage ends on the last lap 250. 

You Get a Win and You Get a Win. Everybody Gets a Chance at a Win.

With 12 different winners in the first 13 races of the season (Brad Keselowski is the only multi-time winner), the parity in the competition makes it seem like just about any driver has a shot to grab the checkered flag and hoist a trophy in Victory Lane this season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. What makes it even more exciting is if the 2018 season stays on its current trajectory, it has the opportunity to eclipse the current series record of the most different winners in a single season at 18; set in 1988 and then tied last season.

Austin Dillon added his name to this season’s winners list this past weekend at Michigan after ending a 55-race NASCAR Xfinity Series winless streak for Richard Childress Racing and a 26-race series winless streak for himself. Dillon joins Tyler Reddick (Daytona), Kevin Harvick (Atlanta), Kyle Larson (Las Vegas), Brad Keselowski (Phoenix and Charlotte), Joey Logano (California), Ryan Blaney (Texas), Ryan Preece (Bristol), Christopher Bell (Richmond), Spencer Gallagher (Talladega), Justin Allgaier (Dover) and Kyle Busch (Pocono) as this season’s victors.

There is a good chance the streak will keep growing, as only three of this year’s winners are entered this weekend (Allgaier, Bell, and Reddick) at Iowa Speedway in the Iowa 250 presented by Enogen.

Iowa Speedway has been home to three first-time winners in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s first (2011) of his series-leading three wins at Iowa was also his first series career win. Then last season both races at Iowa brought new winners into the fold.  William Byron powered to his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win in this event last year and the Ryan Preece followed it up with his first series career win when series returned in July.

Eight drivers in the top-ten in average finish (among active drivers) at Iowa are looking to end winless streaks and join the NASCAR Xfinity Series different winners list this season. Series points leader Elliott Sadler is the lone competitor entered in the Iowa 250 this weekend with a previous win (2012) at the famed Midwestern track.

Rank

Drivers

Iowa Avg. Finish

Iowa Starts

Series Races Attempted Since Last Win

1

Elliott Sadler

5.9

14

52 (Kentucky, 2016)

2

Justin Allgaier

11.3

12

3 (Dover, 2018)

3

Daniel Hemric

14.0

2

46 (Hasn’t Won)

4

Michael Annett

14.2

10

209 (Hasn’t Won)

5

Cole Custer

14.5

2

13 (Homestead, 2017)

6

Ryan Sieg

14.8

8

149 (Hasn’t Won)

7

Brandon Jones

14.8

6

84 (Hasn’t Won)

8

Ryan Reed

15.4

8

45 (Daytona, 2017)

9

Christopher Bell

16.0

1

5 (Richmond, 2018)

10

Ross Chastain

16.0

6

119 (Hasn’t Won)

* – Bolded drivers are the eight drivers still looking for a win this season. Five are looking for the first win of their series career.


Series Leader Sadler Stumbles; Custer & Hemric Cut into his Points Lead

Following the halfway point (13th race) of the 2018 regular season, the top-three in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver championship standings – Elliott Sadler (standings leader), Cole Custer (second) and Daniel Hemric (third) – are only separated by a mere 50 points. All three are hunting for the regular season championship, which guarantees the competitor a spot in the Playoffs and awards the winner 15 Playoff points to take into the postseason.  None of the three have won yet this season, but that could all change this weekend.

Sadler had built a sizeable lead (62 points ahead of second) in the series championship driver standings going into last weekend at Michigan, but for the first time this year, he finished outside the top-ten (30th). Second in the standings Cole Custer (-41) and third-place Daniel Hemric (-45) took advantage of the rare Sadler mishap by finishing in the top-five at Michigan and closing the points gap (around a 20-point swing) to under 50 points with 13 races left in the regular season.

Despite the inroads on the points lead, redemption could be swift for Elliott Sadler, as Iowa is one of his best tracks. He leads the series in poles (three), top-fives (seven), top-tens(13) and lead-lap finishes (14) on the 0.75-mile track. The veteran JR Motorsports driver has in total made 14 series starts at Iowa, posting one win (2012) and an average finish of 5.9 – which is the best among drivers entered this weekend.

“I always look forward to Iowa it’s one of my stronger tracks and it’s always a fun and challenging race,” said Elliot Sadler. “We had a rocket of a car last year, just a little bit of bad luck. I’m confident my guys will unload another fast Chevrolet and perform again this weekend. This is a track where I know we can win.”

Despite the success at Iowa, Sadler can’t lift on the pedal this season as his closest challengers in the standings, Cole Custer and Daniel Hemric are right in his rearview mirror; each has just two starts at Iowa, but both finished in the top-ten in the July Iowa race last season. To further the point, Custer has recently found his groove as he has finished in the top-ten in ten of his last 11 starts this season. Hemric is right there with Custer, posting nine top-tens in his last 11 races this season.

Fresh Faces: Justin Haley, Riley Herbst to Make Series Debuts at Iowa

Two young talents getting their opportunity to compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this weekend are GMS Racing’s Justin Haley and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Riley Herbst.

Many might have already heard of Justin Haley, as the 19-year -old has been cutting his teeth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series since 2015, but 2018 marks just his second full-time season. Haley has been running strong in the Camping World Truck Series this season, posting three top-five and five top-tensin eight starts.

This weekend, Haley has the opportunity to pilot the No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet Camaro, the same team that went to Victory Lane earlier this season at Talladega with driver Spencer Gallagher. Though this is Haley’s series debut at Iowa, he not a complete stranger to the track, he made one NCWTS start there last season; starting seventh and finishing tenth.

Alongside Haley, this weekend will be NASCAR Next participant, Riley Herbst, a 24-year-old from Las Vegas, Nevada. Herbst will be attempting to jump in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at Iowa Speedway to make his NASCAR national series debut. Over the past three years, Herbst has participated in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West, making 20 combined starts and posting eight top-fives and 16 top-tens. He also ran part-time in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, making 27 series starts and posting a win at Pocono Raceway last season.

Herbst is in his second year of the NASCAR Next youth initiative. Before the season, Kyle Busch Motorsports announced that Herbst would participate in two Camping World Truck Series races later this year, as well, with the first coming next weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Herbst also has some experience at Iowa. He made a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West start at Iowa in 2016; starting second and finishing third.

Playoff Bubbling: Anything Can Happen Over Second Half of the Regular Season

The drivers surrounding the cutoff for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs this season better kick it up a notch because half of the regular season is in the books and time is ticking on the chances to lock themselves into the postseason.

Two drivers that currently accumulated enough points to contend for the top-12 in points but are ineligible for the postseason due to not competing in every race this season are Spencer Gallagher and John Hunter Nemechek. Both have been removed from the Playoff outlook chart below for accuracy.

The one driver currently riding the 12th and final spot in the Playoffs is JD Motorsport’s driver Ross Chastain with a small 27-point cushion over 13th-place RSS Racing’s Ryan Sieg. Plus, JR Motorsport’s Michael Annett and Fury Race Cars’ driver Kaz Grala are looking for a shot at the title and both are within 35 points of 12th.

The action should be close as many of Chastain’s competitors have similar average finishes as him at Iowa – Annett (14.2), Sieg (14.7) Reed (15.3), Chastain (16.0), Clements (18.9) Smithley (22.3) and Gase (26.2). Sunoco Rookies Cindric and Grala will be making their series track debuts this weekend.

Below is a chart of the nine drivers on the Playoff bubble following the 13th race of the season at Michigan International Speedway and heading into this weekend at Iowa Speedway:

Rank

Driver

Race Wins

Playoff Pts

Points

Cutoff

Next

Starts

10

Ryan Reed

0

0

333

87

13

11

Austin Cindric

0

0

306

60

-27

13

12

Ross Chastain

0

0

273

27

-33

13

13

Ryan Sieg

0

0

246

-27

-27

13

14

Michael Annett

0

0

243

-30

-3

13

15

Kaz Grala

0

0

238

-35

-5

13

16

Jeremy Clements

0

0

204

-69

-34

13

17

Garrett Smithley

0

0

201

-72

-3

13

18

Joey Gase

0

0

193

-80

-8

13

* Removed S. Gallagher and J. H. Nemechek due to not making every start this season.


Streak Continues: Eighth Different Winner Guaranteed at Iowa

Since August of 2014, there have been seven straight races of different winners at Iowa Speedway, and this weekend none of the former winners are entered, guaranteeing an eighth different winner in a row for the fans watching the Iowa 250 presented by Enogen on Sunday, June 17th.

Brad Keselowski’s most recent win at Iowa back in 2014 kicked off the streak and since then Chris Buescher (May 2015), Ryan Blaney (August 2015), Sam Hornish Jr. (June 2016), Erik Jones (July 2016), William Byron (June 2017) and Ryan Preece (July 2017) have all enjoyed the spoils of victory at Iowa Speedway.

One driver who has been electric over the past four races of the season and looks to be on the verge of breaking through and getting his first career win is Daniel Hemric. The Richard Childress Racing driver has a series-leading average finish over the past four races of 3.75. Hemric must be hungry for a win, he is into his second season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and still hasn’t visited Victory Lane in 46 starts.

One driver looking to play spoiler this weekend is John Hunter Nemechek, who returns to the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet this weekend at Iowa. Nemechek has made the most of his time behind the wheel of the No. 42 this season, posting one top-five and three top-tensin eight starts. He’ll be making his series track debut this weekend, but don’t think he is at a disadvantage in comparison to his competitors, the young rising star won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Iowa last season.

Back Home Again: Annett & Gase Return to Iowa

Iowans Michael Annett and Joey Gase are returning to their home state this weekend for the Iowa 250 presented by Enogen at Iowa Speedway.

Gase is currently 20th in the driver standings following Michigan. In 13 starts this season he has posted an average finish of 22.5.

This weekend Gase and the SS Green Light Racing No. 35 team will run the special paint scheme with the Iowa Donor Network blazoned on the car. Gase has become an advocate for the Iowa Donor Network after the passing of his mother. Iowa Donor Network is Iowa’s sole organ procurement organization, that facilitates both organ and tissue recovery and serves as the state’s primary contact for organ, tissue and eye donation.

Gase, a Cedar Rapids native, has competed in 13 Xfinity contests at his home track, posting his highest finish (18th) last June.

Hailing from Des Moines, Michael Annett returns to his home state 16th in driver championship standings. In 13 starts this season, he has posted an average finish of 19.5.

“Man, we are glad to see Iowa on the schedule this week. We’ve had great cars all season, run well and been in position to score a lot of points, but something always gets in the way. Coming home to Iowa is the perfect remedy for what has been plaguing us. It’s a racy track and we run pretty well there. Last year, we were in a great spot and made it happen at the end, and with Northland Oil back on the car, we are confident we can do it again,” said Annett.

Annett has found success at Iowa Speedway, registering three top-ten finishes in ten starts.

Also Noteworthy…

NASCAR in Iowa – A total of 28 NASCAR national series races have been held in the state of Iowa at two tracks (Iowa Speedway – 27 races, Davenport Speedway – 1 race). The very first NASCAR national series race held in the state of Iowa was a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event on August 2, 1953 at Davenport Speedway – the only premier series race ever run in Iowa. The event was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Herb Thomas in a Hudson. Since then the only track to host NASCAR in Iowa has been Iowa Speedway (16 Xfinity Series races and 11 Camping World Truck Series races). The first NASCAR national series race held at Iowa Speedway was in 2009; it was an Xfinity Series race on August 1 and was won by Brad Keselowski in a JR Motorsports Chevrolet.  

Iowa in NASCAR –  In total, 30 drivers with their home state recorded as Iowa have competed in at least one NASCAR national series race. Of the 30 Iowan drivers, 25 have competed in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, led by Landon Cassill (Cedar Rapids) with 268 Cup starts. Michael Annett (Des Moines) leads all Iowans in NASCAR Xfinity Series career starts with 209. Of the 30 drivers from Iowa, only three have won. Dick Hutcherson from Keokuk, Iowa, made 103 starts and won 14 times in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the most of any of the Iowan drivers. Hutcherson competed from 1964-1967 and finished runner-up to NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett in the Cup championship driver points in 1965. The second driver from Iowa to win a NASCAR national series race was Johnny Beauchamp from Harlan, Iowa. Beauchamp grabbed two victories in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series while competing part-time from 1953-1961.  The third and most recent driver from Iowa to win is NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Brett Moffitt from Grimes, Iowa, who has two wins in his Truck Series career; including one this season at Atlanta.

Come on...we know you have something to say.....

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.