A NASCAR Camping World Truck Series/Xfinity Series doubleheader is on tap this weekend at Iowa Speedway.
While the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series steps aside, NASCAR’s second and third divisions take center stage in a Father’s Day weekend twin bill.
Saturday night’s Camping World Truck Series 10th annual M&M’s 200 presented by Casey’s General Stores kicks off the weekend at the .875-mile short track (MRN, 6:30 p.m. ET). Fifteen of the 35 drivers entered in the race will be making their first series starts at Iowa including Camden Murphy, Austin Hill, Cory Roper, Todd Gilliland, Reid Wilson, Myatt Snider, Bobby Reuse, Brett Moffitt, Tanner Thorson, Dalton Sargeant, Justin Fontaine, Christian Eckes, Stewart Friesen, Bo LeMastus and Bayley Currey.
All will no doubt face a tremendous challenge from the division’s veteran drivers led by last week’s Texas race winner Johnny Sauter. He is on top of the series point standings by 77 over Noah Gragson and has now won six of the last 11 series races, going back to Texas last fall. Sauter now has 21 career Truck Series victories in 229 starts.
After his victory on Friday, Sauter is now the third driver in series history to post four or more wins in the first eight races of the season. Kyle Busch and Mike Skinner are the only other drivers on that list. If Johnny Sauter were to win this weekend at Iowa, he would tie Kyle Busch and become just the second driver is series history to win five races in the first nine races of the season. Busch accomplished the feat in 2014.
He’ll make his 12th career Iowa start Saturday night in search of his first win at the track.
“I would say Iowa compares favorably to Richmond,” Sauter explained. “You know, Richmond was one of my all-time favorites and obviously we don’t race there anymore, so Iowa is the next best thing.
“Iowa has really widened out. I found myself last year moving up and running a truck-width off the wall and it felt like they put four brand new tires on my truck. I didn’t figure it out. I had to have one of those young guns coming behind telling me where they were running and I obviously moved up there and saw the difference.”
There have been 12 different winners in the first 13 Xfinity Series races of the season. The division’s next chance to add to that number and possibly eclipse the current series record of the most different winners in single season at 18, set in 1988 and tied last year, comes in Sunday’s Iowa 250 presented by Enogen (MRN, 4:30 p.m. ET).
There are no Cup Series regulars in Sunday’s field and only three drivers have already won in 2018 (Tyler Reddick, Justin Allgaier and Christopher Bell) so the odds on adding another new name to the winner’s column is strong.
Elliott Sadler would like to join that list and erase a bitter last outing at Michigan where he had a fast car only to get involved in a late race accident. Iowa is one of the JR Motorsports driver’s best tracks. He leads the series in poles (three), top fives (seven), top 10s (13) and lead-lap finishes (14) on the 0.75-mile track. The veteran 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,” Sadler said. “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.”