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NASCAR National Series News & Notes — Iowa

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Toyota / SaveMart 350
The Place: Sonoma Raceway
The Date: Sunday, June 24
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 1:30 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 218.9 miles (110 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 25),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 50), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 110)

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Iowa 250 presented by Enogen
The Place: Iowa Speedway
The Date: Sunday, June 17
The Time: 5:00 p.m.
TV: FS1, 4:30 p.m.
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 218.75 miles (250 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 60),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 120), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 250)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 
Next Race: M&M’s 200 presented by Casey’s General Store
The Place: Iowa Speedway
The Date: Saturday, June 16
The Time: 7 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 6:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 175 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 60),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 120), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

On A Break
While the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series head to Iowa Speedway, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series doesn’t race this weekend. This marks the series’ second of three off-weekends this season.

When the drivers return to the track, it will be at Sonoma Raceway in Northern California for the first of the season’s two road course races.

The 1.99-mile, 12-turn track snakes through picturesque wine country and has provided plenty of excitement over the years. From final turn drama (Tony Stewart’s move of Denny Hamlin for the win in 2016), the start of a storybook comeback (Kyle Busch’s win in 2015 vaulting him into championship contention) and countless frustrated drivers sent off-course into the tire barriers in the heat of battle – Sonoma has seen it all.

The Toyota/Save-Mart 350 will be contested a week from Sunday (June 24, 3 p.m. ET) on FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Stewart-Haas Racing Leading the Pack
Clint Bowyer’s victory at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday was noteworthy not only because it gives him his first multi-win season in six years, but because he led a Stewart-Haas Racing team 1-2-3 sweep – a first-ever for the championship team.

Bowyer led teammates Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch across the finish line and into the NASCAR record books and the good work presents a good omen for the series’ next race, the Toyota/Save-Mart 350, a week from Sunday (June 24, 3 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

The organization is just the fourth team in the last 20 years to win seven or more races in the first 15 races of the season. Harvick has a series-best five victories in addition to Bowyer’s two.

In fact, four drivers – Harvick (five), Kyle Bush (four), Martin Truex Jr. (two) and Bower (two) are all multi-time winners, not even halfway through the full schedule. The only place these drivers haven’t won is on restrictor-plate tracks – where Austin Dillon scored a last-lap Daytona 500 win and Joey Logano won at Talladega Superspeedway.

In the last two decades, only two teams – Hendrick Motorsports (10 wins) in 2007 and Roush Fenway Racing (eight) in 2005 – have won more than SHR’s current trophy haul through the season’s opening 15-race stretch.

Deja Vu
Not only have Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer established themselves the class of the 2018 season so far, interestingly, they are also the four active defending winners at the Sonoma Raceway road course.

Harvick won last year, Busch won in 2015, Truex won in 2013 and Bowyer in 2012. Retired drivers Tony Stewart (2016) and Carl Edwards (2014) are the only other winners in that span.

A Bridesmaid Once Again
Kevin Harvick handled it with grace, but it must have been a bit frustrating for the series’ winningest driver to finish runner-up Sunday after leading a race-best 49 laps. It was his seventh career runner-up at Michigan and marked his second second-place of the season in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Ford.

In all, the 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion has 52 runner-up finishes in his career – most among active drivers in the series – more than seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson (46) and current championship points leader Kyle Busch (43). Harvick has led 1,848 laps in those second-place finishes. Six times he’s led at least 100 laps in a race only to finish runner-up.

The native Californian is the defending champion of his home state Toyota/Save-Mart 350 and has finished in the top 10 in four of his last five starts at the Sonoma track. His only runner-up finish there came in 2007.

Can Larson and Elliott Drive To Victory Lane?
Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott are two high-profile Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers still looking for their first premier series victories. Both have previous NASCAR wins at Sonoma – just not at the Monster Energy Series level.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver, Larson, won from the pole position and led every single lap (66 laps) en route to winning the 2014 K&N Pro Series West race at Sonoma on the eve of the Cup race.

Similarly, the Hendrick Motorsports driver Elliott, 22, won the 2016 K&N Pro Series West race from the pole position.

Larson, 25, is still looking for his first top-10 in Cup competition at Sonoma. He qualified on pole in his No. 42 Chevrolet in 2017 and led nine laps before finishing 26th. Elliott, the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet, has finishes of 21st and eighth and hasn’t led any laps yet in a Cup race on the road course.

Movement in the Standings
Five positions changed among the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ top-10 points standings following Sunday’s Michigan race. Four-time race winner Kyle Busch still remains on top – his fourth-place finish at Michigan helping him hold a steady and hefty 75-point edge over five-time race winner Kevin Harvick.

But Michigan winner Clint Bowyer moved up a position into fifth place in the standings and trails another “mover” Brad Keselowski in fourth place, by only four points. Martin Truex Jr., who won at Pocono two weeks ago, finished a frustrating 18th-place at Michigan. It dropped him from fourth to sixth place in the championship points standings, but he trails Bowyer by only four points.

Ryan Blaney’s eighth-place run Sunday coupled with Larson’s 28th-place finish meant the two young drivers swapped positions in the standings. Blaney is now in ninth with a 14-point edge over Larson in 10th.

NASCAR Xfinity Series

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 being 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 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 (Sunday, June 17 at 5 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

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 10 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-10 (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 10s (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 have just two starts at Iowa, but both finished in the top-10 in the July Iowa race last season. To further the point, Custer has recently found his groove as he has finished in the top-10 in 10 of his last 11 starts this season. Hemric is right there with Custer, posting nine top 10s 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 -ld 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 10s in 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 10th.

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 10s. 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 17 at 5 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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 10s in 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-10 finishes in 10 starts.

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc. 
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.

Iowa Speedway Xfinity Series Quick Stats – This weekend marks the 17th time the NASCAR Xfinity Series has come to Iowa Speedway. Through the first 16 series races, the track has seen 10 different pole winners, led by Elliott Sadler with three (Aug. 2011 and 2012 sweep). … Five drivers have posted their first series career pole at Iowa – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2009), Drew Herring (2013), Ryan Blaney (2014), Christopher Bell and Ryan Preece (2017). … The 16 Iowa Speedway series races have also produced 11 different winners, led by Brad Keselowski (2009, 2013 and 2014) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2011 sweep and 2012) with three each. Stenhouse leads the series in consecutive wins at Iowa with three. … Sam Hornish Jr. (two wins: 2014, 2016) is only other driver with multiple Xfinity Series wins at Iowa. … Jeremy Clements leads the series in starts at Iowa with 15. A total 33 different drivers have made their series debut at Iowa; the most recent were last season – Stan Mullis (7/29/2017) and Ty Majeski (6/24/2017). … A total of 39 different drivers have finished in the top-five at Iowa, led by Elliott Sadler with seven top fives. … A total of 66 different drivers have posted top-10 finishes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Iowa, led by Elliott Sadler with 13. … A total of 39 different drivers have led at least one lap in the series at Iowa, led by Sam Hornish Jr. with 506 laps led.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year Update – JR Motorsport’s driver Tyler Reddick has retaken the Sunoco Rookie of the Year points lead from Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell and now has a 17-point lead as the series heads to Iowa. Standings following Michigan: Reddick (440 points), Bell (-17 points back), Austin Cindric (-134), Kaz Grala (-202), Alex Labbe (-251), Vinnie Miller (-317), Spencer Boyd (-324), Josh Bilicki (-352), Chad Finchum (-387) and Matt Mills (-416).

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Unstoppable Sauter
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Iowa Speedway this weekend for the M&M’s 200 presented by Casey’s General Store on Saturday, June 16 (7 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Johnny Sauter continued to take the Camping World Truck Series by storm last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, holding off Stewart Friesen on a three-lap shootout at the 1.5-mile oval.

Sauter, the series points leader, posted his fifth career win at Texas Motor Speedway and his fourth win in eight races this season. Todd Bodine, two-time Truck Series champion, is the only driver with more wins at the track than Sauter, with six.

Finishing 0.092 seconds ahead of Friesen, Sauter took the lead for the first time on Lap 117, passing teammate Justin Haley.

Sauter has now won six of the last 11 series races, going back to Texas last fall, and has posted a top-three finish in 10 of the last 12 races. 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.

On top of that, he hasn’t started a race outside of the top-10 this season and has finished in the top-five in all but one race – Martinsville, where he finished 19th.

Sauter now sits 77 points ahead of second-place Noah Gragson and 95 points ahead of Brett Moffitt in third.

Friesen posted his first top-10 finish in the three races he’s contested at Texas Motor Speedway and recorded his fifth top-10 finish of 2018.

Justin Haley To Make NASCAR Xfinity Series Debut
Justin Haley has been impressive since jumping into the No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, starting at Martinsville in the spring last season. So impressive, in fact, that he will make his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut this weekend at Iowa Speedway for the same team in the No. 23 Chevrolet.

Haley has tallied 35 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races and has posted six top fives, 18 top 10s and one pole in his career. Haley visited Iowa Speedway once in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series where he started seventh and finished 10th. In addition to this weekend, Haley will run at Daytona International Speedway in July and at Watkins Glen International in August for GMS Racing in the Xfinity Series.

First Timers at Iowa
Fifteen of the 35 drivers entered in the 10th Annual M&M’s 200 presented by Casey’s General Store at Iowa Speedway on Saturday, June 16 (7 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be visiting the track for the first time.

That list includes: 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.

Of those 15 drivers, three of them (Cory Roper, Reid Wilson and Tanner Thorson) are entering their second career race.

Christian Eckes is making his NASCAR national series debut this weekend. Eckes won the 2016 Snowball Derby and won the ARCA Racing Series race at Salem earlier this year.

Iowa Speedway Quick Facts
As the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Iowa Speedway for the first time this season, here are some quick facts that you should keep in mind.

Track Length: .875 mile (7/8 mile)
Race Length: 175 miles (200 laps)
Track Width: 60 feet with 20-foot apron
Grandstand Seating Capacity: 24,000
Degree of Banking on Turns: 12, 13, 14 degrees (progressive)
Degree of Banking on Frontstretch: 10 degrees
Degree of Banking on Backstretch: 4 degrees
Length of Frontstretch: 1,075 feet
Length of Backstretch: 869 feet
Most Wins: 2 (Erik Jones, Timothy Peters)
Most Poles: 1 (eight drivers)
Most Top Fives: 7 (Johnny Sauter)
Most Top 10s: 10 (Matt Crafton)
Most Lead Changes: 12 (9/8/13)
Fewest Lead Changes: 4 (2 times, most recently 6/18/16)
Most Leaders: 6 (2 times, most recently 9/8/13)
Fewest Leaders: 3 (2 times, most recently 7/14/12)
Most Cautions: 9 (9/15/12)
Fewest Cautions: 4 (7/11/12)
Most Caution Laps: 54 (9/15/12)
Fewest Caution Laps: 19 (7/11/14)
Most Running at Finish: 31 (7/13/13)
Fewest Running at Finish: 18 (6/23/17)
Most Wins by a Manufacturer: 6 (Toyota)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Etc.
Friesen Wants a Win: Stewart Friesen is looking for his first career win and after coming so close at Texas Motor Speedway, he is hopeful that Iowa will be the place to do it for him. Friesen has 33 starts under his belt with five top fives, 10 top 10s and two poles. Although he has yet to win a race, he has finished in second-place twice in his career. Friesen has never visited Iowa Speedway before, so Saturday’s race will be his first at the oval.

Sunoco Rookie Gilliland Posting Career Bests: Todd Gilliland proves to be a strong contender each week in his young NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career. He has started in 10 career races and has posted two top fives and six top 10s. Gilliland was very impressive at Texas Motor Speedway, where the rookie led a race-high 62 laps in just his fourth start this season. Prior to that, he had led only one lap in the series. Gilliland posted the best finish of his 2018 Sunoco Rookie campaign (sixth) and tallied his third straight top-10 finish.

Nemechek Going For Second Iowa Win: John Hunter Nemechek is entered to race this weekend at Iowa Speedway and if he races like he did last year, he might take home another win. Starting in the fifth position, he led only six laps before heading to Victory Lane in 2017. Sauter finished in second-place and Brandon Jones finished in third. Iowa is a solid track for Nemechek, could he win two in a row?

Crafton Still Craving a Win – Matt Crafton is still struggling to get his first win of the year. His most recent win was last season at Eldora, which was also his only win of the season. The veteran ruled on 1.5-mile tracks in the past but has not had any success so far this year.
He has visited Iowa 11 times, posting one win, five top-fives and 10 top-10s.

The last time Crafton finished a season without winning a race was in 2012, although there are still 15 races left in the season for him to fight back. Right now, Crafton sits in fifth in the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings, 99-points behind the standings leader.