XFINITY Race Preview: Iowa

IowaSpeedway

The NASCAR XFINITY Series makes its second stop of the season at Iowa Speedway in Saturday's U.S. Cellular 250 presented by American Ethanol. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Entry List | Previous Winners | Driver Averages | Driver Stats | Schedule of Events

NASCAR XFINITY Series news, notes and fast facts in advance of Saturday's U.S. Cellular 250 presented by American Ethanol at Iowa Speedway.

Radio: MRN, 3:00 PM (ET)
TV: NBC, 3:00 PM (ET)
Race Distance: 218.75 miles (250 laps)
Stage Lengths: Stage 1 - Ends Lap 60, Stage 2 - Ends Lap 120, Final Stage - Ends Lap 250

Races: 15
Pole Winners: 9
Youngest Pole Winner: Trevor Bayne (7/31/2010 - 19 years, 5 months, 12 days)
Oldest Pole Winner: Elliott Sadler (8/4/2012 - 37 years, 3 months, 5 days)
Race Winners: 10
Youngest Race Winner: William Byron (6/24/2017 - 19 years, 5 months, 26 days)
Oldest Race Winner: Elliott Sadler (8/4/2012 - 37 years, 3 months, 5 days)
Races Won from Pole: 1
Last Race Won from Pole: Elliott Sadler (8/4/2012)
Race Record: Elliott Sadler - 115.622 mph (8/4/2012)
Qualifying Record: Austin Dillon - 136.737 mph (6/9/2013)

  Last Race Most/Largest Fewest/Smallest
Cars: 40 43 - 6 Times 40 - 9 Times
Lead Changes: 11 17 (5/22/2011) 5 (8/3/2013)
Leaders: 6 9 (8/6/2011) 3 - Twice
Cautions: 9 12 (8/1/2009) 3 (8/4/2012)
Caution Laps: 65 65 (6/24/2017) 16 (8/4/2012)
Lead Lap Finish: 19 20 (8/1/2015) 11 (7/30/2016)
Running at the Finish: 32 32 (6/24/2017) 26 (5/20/2012)
Laps Led (Winner): 78 252 (8/1/2015) 19 (6/9/2013)
Margin of Victory*: 1.14 3.533 (7/30/2016) 0.066 (8/6/2011)

*Since 1993 (advent of digital timing and scoring); does not include races completed under caution

JR Motorsport’s Rising Star William Byron Returns To Iowa Looking For The Sweep
JR Motorsport’s William Byron is quickly becoming one of the most popular rising stars in the NASCAR 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 NASCAR 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 10s and an average finish of 9.5 in 18 NASCAR 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 10 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
Eight races are left for the championship contending drivers to guarantee themselves a spot in the post-season.

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 NASCAR 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 10s. 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 10s.

· 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 10s 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 10s and an average finish of 15.4.

Quick Facts: NASCAR And Iowa
This weekend’s U.S. Cellular 250 Presented by American Ethanol (Saturday, July 29 at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) 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 1, 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 NASCAR 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 NASCAR XFINITY Series event held in the state of Iowa has been at Iowa Speedway.

Iowan Drivers In NASCAR
A total of 30 drivers that have made at least one start in a NASCAR national series have 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 NASCAR 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 NASCAR 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 NASCAR 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 10s 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 10th 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 10 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.

Team Penske:
Sam Hornish Jr. heads to Iowa with the best chance of winning amongst the series part-timers this weekend. Hornish has made 10 series starts at Iowa, posting two wins (2014, 2016), six top fives, seven top 10s 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 10th but was caught in an accident that forced him finish 34th. Majeski will be working with Seth Barbour as crew chief. 

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