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NASCAR National Series News & Notes – Iowa

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Toyota/Save Mart 350
The Place: Sonoma Raceway
The Date: Sunday, June 23
The Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 2:30 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 226.8 miles (90 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 20),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 40), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 90)
2018 Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr.

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: CircuitCity.com 250 presented by Tamron
The Place: Iowa Speedway
The Date: Sunday, June 16
The Time: 5:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 5:00 p.m. ET
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)
2018 Race Winner: Justin Allgaier 

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series
Next Race: M&M’s 200 presented by Casey’s General Store
The Place: Iowa Speedway
The Date: Saturday, June 15
The Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 8 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)
2018 Race Winner: Brett Moffitt

 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Father’s Day fun for Logano

Joey Logano’s victory in Monday’s weather-delayed race in Michigan was the perfect Father’s Day send-off for the Team Penske driver. The father of one-year old son Hudson retook the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points lead from Kyle Busch and gets to bask in victory for two weeks instead of one because of the Cup off-weekend.

It’s a strong and important statement that the reigning Monster Energy Series champion is very much in the hunt to defend his title and become the first to win back-to-back series trophies since Jimmie Johnson won five straight from 2006-2010.

It is also a well-needed dose of confidence heading into the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway (June 23 at 3 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) – one of nine tracks on the schedule he has yet to win a Cup race at.

The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford has a pair of top-five finishes and four top 10s in 10 previous starts at Sonoma. His best finish was third in 2016. Both his top-five finishes have come in the last four-race stretch. He hasn’t led a lap at Sonoma, however, since 2014 and his 18 laps led total is the third-lowest mark of any track on the schedule. The only places he’s led fewer laps in his title-winning career is at the other road courses in Watkins Glen, N.Y. (nine) and the Charlotte ROVAL (none).

While Logano has comparatively-speaking struggled at Sonoma Raceway, rival Kyle Busch has a pair of wins at Sonoma – in 2008 and 2015. And Busch has finished seventh or better in the last four races there, including three top-five finishes. He’s led only 22 of his 110 total laps led at Sonoma in that time period, however, and finished fifth both in 2017 and 2018.

2019: Where champions and Victory Lane meet … regularly

The beauty of the 2019 season is two-fold.

One, we’re seeing several new faces mixing it up in the top 10, including Ryan Preece, Chris Buescher and William Byron – who has already matched his top-10 total from last year’s Sunoco Rookie season (four) – to name a few.

But more importantly, two, we’re seeing a steady stream of champions winning races.

Twelve of the 15 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races this year have been won by a past series champion: Kyle Busch (four wins), Brad Keselowski (three), Martin Truex Jr. (three) and Joey Logano (two).

The only non-champion winners have been Denny Hamlin (Daytona and Texas) and Chase Elliott (Talladega).

The stat is a significant one, and could be telling as the season progresses. The championship quartet has expertly navigated the 2019 season thus far, using their vast skills to collect a plethora of trophies.

This championship quartet could work their way to the Championship 4 … it’ll be a fascinating watch.

Cheers to the defending race winner

Martin Truex Jr. joins Kyle Busch as the only active drivers with multiple Sonoma trophies (two each). The driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota is the defending race winner and also won it previously in 2013.

Truex has led 154 laps at Sonoma – 87 of them in just the last two races. It has seemed like all or nothing at times for the 2017 Monster Energy Series champion. He has three finishes of 37th-place or worse since 2010 to go with his wins. And two of his last four races were DNFs due to an accident (2015) and engine problems (2017).

There are good vibes for Truex heading into California’s famed wine country, however. He has won three times in the season’s last seven races and led at least 100 laps in each victory (at Richmond, Dover and Charlotte). With a third place showing on Monday at Michigan, Truex moved up a position in the points standings, to sixth place – 32 points behind Chase Elliott in fifth.

Home cooking for previous race winners

There are only two Sonoma trophies in 44 starts among the four native Californian drivers on the entry list – Jimmie Johnson (El Cajon), Kevin Harvick (Bakersfield), Kyle Larson (Elk Grove) and Matt DiBenedetto (Grass Valley) – both veterans Jimmie Johnson (2010) and Kevin Harvick (2017) count Sonoma among their long list of career victories.

Harvick, of Bakersfield, Calif., has nine top-10 finishes in 18 starts, six of them top-five efforts. He has finished among the top-10 in five of the last six races. He answered his 2017 victory in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford with a runner-up finish last year. And he’s led 62 of his career total 95 laps led at Sonoma in just the past three races.

Johnson, of El Cajon, Calif., has nine top-10 finishes in 17 starts, including four top-five efforts. He won in 2010 in the midst of a seven-race run of top-10 finishes from 2009-2015. His 143 laps led is third behind Truex (154 laps led) and Kurt Busch (198) among active drivers. He finished 11th at Sonoma last year.

Kyle Larson, of Elk Grove, Calif., has shown promise, but not had the results yet at the Monster Energy Series level on the challenging Sonoma course. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver won from the pole position and led every lap in his Sonoma debut in the NASCAR K&N West Series in 2014. Unfortunately for Larson, the Cup races have been a different story. He is still looking for his first top-10 after five starts. He’s won the Busch Pole Award and has led laps in the last two races at Sonoma. Larson’s best finish on the famed road course is 12th (2016).

DiBenedetto, of Grass Valley, Calif., is still looking for his first top-10 at Sonoma. The Leavine Family Racing driver has a best showing of 17th place last season.

Looking ahead to the Playoffs

The Michigan race results affected many inside the top 16 in the Monster energy NASCAR Cup Series driver standings. Not only did Joey Logano take a nine-point advantage in the overall standings over second place Kyle Busch, his Team Penske teammate, three-time race winner Brad Keselowski, moved up to third.

Harvick, who was frustrated after the Michigan race despite a seventh-place finish, still gained a position in the standings. He’s now fourth. Truex also moved up one position – into sixth.

Chase Elliott, whose victory at Talladega Superspeedway last month is the only win for Chevrolet so far this season, dropped from third to fifth in the standings with a 20th-place finish at Michigan.

Perhaps the most dramatic action in the rankings is closer to the 16th-place Playoff cutoff mark. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Erik Jones dropped out of the top 16 with a 31st-place showing at Michigan. He’s now ranked 18th – seven points behind 16th place Jimmie Johnson. Ryan Newman is 17th, only three points behind Johnson.

The “transfer” portion of the standings has been extremely tight all season. Only 26 points separate 14th place William Byron from 18th place Erik Jones.

Sunoco Rookies getting the hang of it

The Sunoco Rookie of the Year contest could not be much tighter – and it’s consistently been that way all season. Daniel Hemric keeps hold of the rookie points lead over Ryan Preece with a solid 12th-place finish at Michigan in the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. He’s had top-20 finishes in four of the last six races and Michigan’s result was his second-best this season only to his fifth place run at Talladega last month.

And, Hemric, 28, has reason to be optimistic heading into the summer road courses. He has three top-three finishes on Xfinity Series road courses and two previous top-five showings in Gander Outdoors Truck Series road course events. This will be his first time on the Sonoma course.

Preece, 28, is looking for his first top 20 since a third place at Talladega, Ala. His best showing in the No. 47 JTG Racing Chevrolet in the five races since is 23rd at Pocono, Pa. After leading the rookie standings for much of the season, Hemric passed him after Pocono and now leads Preece by 21 points heading to Sonoma. His best NASCAR road course finishes are fourth place at both Watkins Glen, N.Y. and the Charlotte ROVAL races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series last year.

Statistical report card

The Michigan race produced 29 green flag passes for the lead – the most at the track in the last five years. This statistic has increased for 11 of the 15 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races this season – green flag passing is up 60.4 percent on the year.

The average margin of victory through the opening races is 1.489-seconds, however in nine of the 15 races the margin of victory has been less than one second.

The average number of lead changes per race (19.47) in 2019 is also a four-year high.

By the numbers: Sonoma

The polesitter has not won at Sonoma Raceway since 2004 when Jeff Gordon earned the fourth of his record five victories at the track. Gordon earned three of his Sonoma victories from the pole position. …. While Gordon took the majority of his record five Sonoma wins from the pole, the race winner lately has started much farther back on the grid. In five of the last eight races, the winner has started from the fifth row or beyond. …Only six drivers in next week’s field have won races at Sonoma before. Two-time winners Truex and Busch are the only multiple winners. Harvick (2017), Clint Bowyer (2012), Kurt Busch (2011) and Johnson (2010) are the other former Sonoma champs. …In the last 10 years, Toyota (four) has won the most Sonoma races with Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge all winning twice in that timeframe.

NASCAR Xfinity Series

 Iowa Speedway sets the stage for the Xfinity Series this weekend

With the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series taking the weekend off, the spotlight has been turned to the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Iowa Speedway this Sunday, June 16, for the CircuitCity.com 250 presented by Tamron at 5:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Sunday’s race will mark the 19th time the Xfinity Series has competed on 7/8-mile track. In the previous 18 Iowa Speedway outings, the series has produced 11 different poles winners and 13 different race winners. Elliott Sadler leads the series in poles at Iowa with four (August 2011, 2012 sweep and July 2018). Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2011 sweep, May 2012) and Brad Keselowski (2009, August 2013, August 2014) are tied for the series-most wins at Iowa with three each.

Last season, two series championship contenders won at Iowa Speedway. In June, Justin Allgaier took the checkered flag and in July, Christopher Bell took the victory. This season Bell already has three victories (Atlanta, Bristol, Dover), while Allgaier is still winless heading into Sunday.

Iowa Speedway has been good to those who have showed up winless on the season in the past; eight times drivers have grabbed their first win of the season at Iowa – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2011), Trevor Bayne (2013), Sam Hornish Jr. (2014), Chris Buescher (2015), Ryan Blaney (2015), Sam Hornish Jr. (2016), William Byron (2017) and Ryan Preece (2017).

Furthermore, Iowa Speedway has been home to three drivers’ first NASCAR Xfinity Series career wins – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s grabbed his first Xfinity career win in 2011 and both William Byron and Ryan Preece secured theirs in 2017. Plus, six drivers have grabbed their first NASCAR Xfinity Series career pole at Iowa Speedway – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2009), Drew Herring (2013), Ryan Blaney (2014), Christopher Bell (2017), Ryan Preece (2017), Austin Cindric (2018).

Streaking: Nine different winners in last nine Iowa races

Different winner streaks are great because it is always fun to see new faces enjoying the spoils of Victory Lane in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Iowa Speedway is on its own streak of nine different winners in the last nine series races. With only two former winners in the field this weekend, there is a good chance the streak stays alive.

The different winner streak at Iowa started back in August of 2014 with Brad Keselowski’s win, then it was Chris Buescher (May 2015), Ryan Blaney (August 2015), Sam Hornish Jr. (June 2016), Erik Jones (July 2016), William Byron (June 2017), Ryan Preece (July 2017), Justin Allgaier (June 2018) and Christopher Bell (July 2018).

Allgaier and Bell are the only two previous winners entered this weekend at Iowa.

Winless in 2019, Allgaier returns to Iowa to defend last season’s victory 

JR Motorsport’s driver Justin Allgaier returns to Iowa Speedway looking to defend his victory last season on the 7/8-mile track and get his first win of 2019.

The Illinois native finished last season with five wins (a single-season career-best tally) but this season he hasn’t been able to find his way into Victory Lane; though he has led laps (262) and put up six top fives and seven top 10s.

Allgaier’s resume at Iowa has been pretty solid. In 14 starts, he has a win (this race last season), three top fives and 10 top 10s. His average finish is 9.9.

Even though the JRM veteran is comfortably ahead of the cutoff for the postseason (211 points), a win this weekend at Iowa would lock Allgaier into the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs. Allgaier has made the Playoffs every year since its inception in 2016. He is currently fifth in the driver standings, 148-points behind Tyler Reddick in the standings lead.

Reddick, Bell, and Custer are miles ahead of the competition

Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer have been so impressive this season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series that they are starting to draw comparisons to last season’s ‘Big 3’ in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and rightfully so. Not only are they 1-2-3 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings this season, but they each have racked up three wins in just the first 13 races of the season, a feat the series hasn’t seen before. But their statistical dominance doesn’t end there.

Series standings leader Tyler Reddick, from Corning, California, has posted two poles, three wins (Talladega, Charlotte, Michigan), 11 top fives and 12 top 10s (both are series-most this season). He also leads the series in season-to-date driver rating with a 118.9. Plus, he has led the fourth-most laps (318 laps led, 13.61%) this season and has won three stages to boost his Playoff points total to 18. Looking to Iowa, Reddick will be one to watch; as he has made three series starts on the 7/8-mile track, posting one top five and two top 10s.

Second in the series standings is Christopher Bell, from Norman, Oklahoma, 89 points behind the series standings lead. Bell has posted three poles, three wins (Atlanta, Bristol, Dover), seven top fives and eight top 10s this season. He also has the second-best season-to-date driver rating (117.9) and leads the series in laps led (572 laps led, 24.48%). In addition, he has scored six stage wins, and has accumulated 21 Playoff points; both are the most in the series this season. This weekend at Iowa expect Bell to showcase more of his talent as the 24-year-old has made three previous starts at the 7/8-mile raceway posting a pole, a win (last July) and two top fives.

Third in series driver standings is Cole Custer, from Ladera Ranch, California, 117 points behind Tyler Reddick in the standings lead and 28 points back from second-place Christopher Bell. Custer, though currently slightly behind Reddick and Bell in points, has been stellar this season, posting three poles, three wins (California, Richmond, Pocono), seven top fives and eight top 10s. He also has managed five stage wins, bringing his Playoff points total to 20 (second-most behind Reddick’s 21). Much like his current position in the points, he has hoisted up the third-best season-to-date driver rating (114.4). The 21-year-old has also led the second-most laps (484 laps led, 20.71%) this season. Heading to Iowa this weekend, expect Custer to continue to be upfront. In four starts at the 7/8-mile track he has posted two top fives and three top 10s.

A Sunoco rookie class worth paying attention to

YTD Rookie Standings
Rookie Points
Chase Briscoe 440
John H. Nemechek 429
Noah Gragson 423
Justin Haley 395
Brandon Brown 256

With 13 races in the books this season, it’s no surprise the cream of the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year class is rising to the top. Currently four of the five rookies are inside the top 12 in the driver standings and on pace to make the Playoffs.

Sunoco rookie points leader Chase Briscoe is currently 11 points up on second-place John Hunter Nemechek and 17 points up on third-place Noah Gragson. The Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi driver has been strong this season posting six top-five finishes (most among rookies).

Briscoe does have one start at Iowa under his belt, the July race last season when he started 12th and finished 10th.

Just behind Briscoe in the rookie points is Nemechek, who in his first year with GMS Racing has put up two top fives and nine top 10s. Of the rookies this weekend, Nemechek has made the most starts at Iowa (two) posting one top-five finish and an average finish of 10.0.

Gragson, third in rookie points, won his second rookie of the race award last weekend at Michigan but hopes the momentum can continue this weekend at Iowa Speedway; where he will be making his series track debut.

Fourth in rookie points is Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley; who has managed 10 finishes in the top 10 this season. Haley made his series track debut in this race last season, starting 13th and finishing 12th.

Brandon Brown is currently fifth in the rookie points. The Woodbridge, Virginia, native has been learning the ropes this season posting six top-15 finishes in 13 starts. He made his series track debut at Iowa back in 2017 while running a part-time schedule; he started 38th and finished 29th.

Xfinity Series welcomes newly formed H2 Motorsports

Entrepreneur Matt Hurley recently announced the formation of H2 Motorsports and its introduction of Shane Lee as the driver of the No. 28 H2 Motorsports Toyota Supra in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The team will make its debut this weekend at Iowa Speedway and compete throughout the remainder of the 2019 Xfinity season.

H2 Motorsport’s driver, Shane Lee, 25, competed in 13 Xfinity races in 2018, collecting one top-five and three top-10 finishes for Richard Childress Racing. A native of Newton, N.C., Lee also has participated in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series and ARCA Menards Series.

“It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve been patiently waiting for the right opportunity to present itself and that time is now,” Lee said. “This is the biggest step yet in my career and I appreciate the confidence Matt Hurley and H2 Motorsports has shown in me. I wish the Iowa Speedway race was tomorrow because I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of that No. 28 Circuit City Toyota Supra.”

In addition to Lee, Pete Rondeau, who most recently was the competition director for Furniture Row Racing for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship team, has been named to handle crew chief duties for the No. 28 Toyota.

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

2019 is setting records – The 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series season is the first in series history (since 1982) to have more than two drivers with three or more wins in the first 13 races of the season. Currently the 2019 season has four drivers with three wins each – Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer, Christopher Bell and Kyle Busch.

 Harrison Burton is back with JGR – Harrison Burton will be back in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Supra this weekend with crew chief Ben Beshore at Iowa Speedway. Burton made his series debut earlier this season at Bristol Motor Speedway, where he started fifth and finished 10th. This weekend will be Burton’s series track debut; though he does have two NASCAR Gander Truck Series starts at Iowa posting an average finish of 7.0.

Clements is counting on experience – Xfinity Series championship contender Jeremy Clements leads the series in starts at Iowa Speedway and has made all but one of the 18 series starts at 7/8-mile track. Clements only missed the inaugural race in 2009. In 17 starts he has posted one top 10 and an average finish of 19.1.

Iowa First-Timers – Nine drivers entered in the NASCAR Xfinity Series field at Iowa Speedway this weekend will be attempting to make their series track debut – (alphabetical order) – Harrison Burton, Bayley Currey, Gray Gaulding, Joe Graf Jr., Noah Gragson, Tyler Matthews, Matt Mills, Ryan Repko and Zane Smith.

Series season debuts for four drivers – If all goes to plan, this Sunday in the CircuitCity.com 250 presented by Tamron at Iowa Speedway will be the NASCAR Xfinity Series season debut for four drivers – Ryan Ellis, Joe Graf Jr., Ryan Repko and Shane Lee.

Ellis will be driving the No. 99 B.J. McLeod Motorsports Toyota with crew chief Adam Brooks. Ellis has run part-time since 2012, totaling 48 starts posting an average starting position of 33.9 and an average finish of 31.7. He has made two series starts at Iowa, both resulted in DNFs.

Graf Jr. attempted to make his series debut last weekend at Michigan but was too conservative in qualifying and as a result didn’t make the race. This weekend he will be looking to redeem himself in the No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet with crew chief Justin Alexander.

Repko will be driving the No. 01 JD Motorsports with Gary Keller Chevrolet this weekend at Iowa. The 19-year-old from Denver, North Carolina, will be making his NASCAR national series debut this weekend. Though he does have two ARCA Menards Series starts posting an average finish of 10.0.

“I am really thankful for this opportunity. All of the pieces are coming together for this to be a great weekend for JD Motorsports with Gary Keller, as well as for myself. I’m looking forward to making a name for myself in my first NASCAR national series event.”

Shane Lee will be making his series season debut this weekend at Iowa in the No. 28 H2 Motorsports Toyota Supra. Lee has made 13 previous series starts last season with Richard Childress Racing, posting one top five and three top 10s. Has made two starts at Iowa posting an average finish of 14.5.

Jeff Green to step away from racing for surgery – RSS Racing announced this week former NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Jeff Green miss the second half of the 2019 season to recover from rotator cuff surgery. The 56-year-old, Green, will race through the July 12 race at Kentucky Speedway before stepping out of the No. 38 Chevrolet. He is scheduled to return and will take over crew chief duties for RSS Racing July 27 at Iowa Speedway with hopes to return to driving in 2020.

Parade Laps: Insights ahead of this week’s driver media breakouts

Six drivers will participate in the media breakout sessions at Iowa Speedway prior to this Sunday’s CircuitCity.com 250 presented by Tamron at 5:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The first media session will include Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick, JR Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier and H2 Motorsports’ Shane Lee. The second session will include JR Motorsports driver and Iowa native Michael Annett, Motorsports Business Management’s Joey Gase, also from Iowa, and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell.

Tyler Reddick (No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro)

Birthdate: January 11, 1996

Driver’s Age: 23

Hometown: Corning, California

Hobbies: Riding ATVs, gaming, working on cars

Team: Richard Childress Racing

Crew Chief: Randall Burnett

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • Won the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship
  • Also won the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors; just third driver in series history to win the title in his rookie season joining Chase Elliott (2014) and William Byron (2017).
  • In 2017, he captured his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory at Kentucky, while running a partial schedule. Currently has six series career wins.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Current NASCAR Xfinity driver championship standings leader, 89 points ahead of second place Christopher Bell.
  • In 13 starts this season, he has two poles, three wins (Talladega, Charlotte, Michigan), 11 top fives and 12 top 10s – leads the series in both top fives and top 10s this season.
  • Leads the series in average finishing position this season as well with a career-best 3.9 in 13 starts.

Iowa Speedway Performance:

  • Has made four starts at Iowa in the NASCAR Xfinity Series posting one top five and two top 10s; including an eighth-place finish in this race last season.

Justin Allgaier (No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro)

Birthdate: June 6, 1986

Driver’s Age: 32

Hometown: Riverton, Illinois

Hobbies: R/C cars, wakeboarding, graphic design, dirt racing

Team: JR Motorsports

Crew Chief: Jason Burdett

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, he won the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season championship and made the Playoffs for the third consecutive season after posting a career-high five wins on the season.
  • In 2016 and 2017, made the Championship 4 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs.
  • In 2011, 2016 and 2017, scored career-best third-place finish in NASCAR Xfinity Series standings.
  • Won first career NASCAR Xfinity Series race in 2010, at Bristol in March. Currently has 10 career Xfinity wins.
  • Won 2009 NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently fifth in the NASCAR Xfinity driver points standings, 148 points back from the series standings leader Tyler Reddick and only seven points back from fourth place Austin Cindric.
  • In 13 starts this season he has posted six top fives, seven top 10s and an average finish of 11.7.

Iowa Speedway Performance:

  • Has made 14 series starts posting one win (2018), three top fives and 10 top 10s.

Shane Lee (No. 28 H2 Motorsports Toyota Supra)

Birthdate: July 4, 1993

Driver’s Age: 25

Hometown: Newton, North Carolina

Hobbies: Hunting, golf, fishing and outdoors

Team: H2 Motorsports

Crew Chief: Pete Rondeau

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • Competed part-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series last season driving for Richard Childress Racing making 13 starts posting one top five and two top 10s.
  • Made NASCAR Xfinity Series career debut in 2018 at Bristol Motor Speedway; he started eighth and finished 14th.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Will be making his season debut this weekend at Iowa Speedway.

Iowa Speedway Performance:

  • Started both Xfinity Series Iowa races last season, posting an average finish of 14.5.

Michael Annett (No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro)

Birthdate: June 23, 1986

Driver’s Age: 32

Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa

Hobbies: Cycling, working out, boating

Team: JR Motorsports

Crew Chief: Travis Mack

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • Won first career NASCAR Xfinity Series race in the 2019 season-opener at Daytona International Speedway, qualifying him for the Playoffs.
  • In 2017, he made the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs and finished the season ninth in the championship standings.
  • In 2012, finished a career-best fifth in the series championship driver standings.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently ninth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series points standings, 221 points behind series standings leader Tyler Reddick and 17-points back from eighth place Noah Gragson.
  • Posted first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win in the 2019 season-opener at Daytona International Speedway, qualifying him for the Playoffs for first time since 2017.
  • In 13 starts this season, he has posted one pole, one win, three top fives, nine top 10s and an average finish of 9.5.

Iowa Speedway Performance:

  • Has made 12 series starts at Iowa posting one top five and three top 10s.

Joey Gase (No. 35 Motorsports Business Management Toyota Supra)

Birthdate: February 28, 1993

Driver’s Age: 26

Hometown: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Hobbies: Working on cars, biking and fishing

Team: Motorsports Business Management

Crew Chief: Doug Richert

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • Has competed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series since 2011 making 221 career starts posting one top five and three top 10s.
  • Finished a career-best 20th in championship standings in 2018 and 2014.
  • In 2015, he won the inaugural Comcast Community Champion Award and posted his first series career top five finish at Talladega Superspeedway
  • In 2011, he made his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut with Go Green Racing at his home track, Iowa Speedway.

 2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently 25th in the NASCAR Xfinity driver points standings, 500-points back from the series standings lead.
  • In 13 starts this season he has posted an average finish of 27.5.

Iowa Speedway Performance:

  • In 15 starts at Iowa Speedway he has posted an average starting position of 29.6 and an average finish of 25.3.

Christopher Bell (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry)

Birthdate: December 16, 1994

Driver’s Age: 24

Hometown: Norman, Oklahoma

Hobbies: Dirt track racing, iRacing, golf

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Crew Chief: Jason Ratcliff

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, he set the rookie single season Xfinity Series wins record with seven victories; the previous record of five wins was held by three drivers – Greg Biffle (2001), Kyle Busch (2004) and Carl Edwards (2005).
  • Made the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs in rookie season (2018), and advanced to the Championship 4; ultimately finishing fourth in the championship standings.
  • Has 11 career NASCAR Xfinity Series wins in just 54 starts; including three this season (Atlanta, Bristol, Dover).
  • He is one of only five drivers in series history to win 10 or more races in their first 48 starts; joining Darrell Waltrip (12 wins), Dale Earnhardt (11 wins), Harry Gant (10 wins) and Jack Ingram (10 wins).

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently second in the NASCAR Xfinity driver points standings, 89 points back from series standings leader Tyler Reddick.
  • In 13 starts this season, he has posted three poles (ISM Raceway, Texas, Charlotte), three wins (Atlanta, Bristol, Dover), seven top fives, eight top 10s and an average finish of 9.7.

Iowa Speedway Performance:

  • Has made three series starts at Iowa posting one pole (2017), one win (July 2018), and two top fives.
  • His average finish at Iowa is a series leading 6.3.

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series

Debuting at Iowa
Twelve of the 34 drivers entered in the 11th Annual M&M’s 200 presented by Casey’s General Store at Iowa Speedway on Saturday, June 15 (8:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be visiting the track for the first time.

That list includes: Sheldon Creed, Gus Dean, Natalie Decker, Chad Finley, Juan Ma Gonzalez, Lou Goss, Tyler Hill, Mason Massey, CJ Mclaughlin, Raphael Lessard, Daniel Sasnett and Chandler Smith.

Sixeen-year-old Chandler Smith is making his NASCAR national series debut this weekend for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Smith has three ARCA Menards Series wins and six poles.

Along those same lines, Sheldon Creed is the reigning ARCA Menards Series champion and has posted a pair of top-10 finishes in his first full-time season in the Gander Trucks, racing for GMS Racing. Gus Dean also brings in a plethora of ARCA Menards Series experience, having recorded a pair of wins, 14 top fives and 29 top 10s in that series before joining the Gander Trucks full-time this year with Young’s Motorsports.

Seventeen-year-old and 2016 CARS Super Late Model champion Raphael Lessard made his Gander Trucks debut earlier this year at Martinsville for Kyle Busch Motorsports, finishing 14th. He then drove the same truck to an 11th-place finish at Dover. This weekend marks the third series start for the native of Quebec, Canada, and this time he’ll be behind the wheel of the No. 17 DGR-Crosley Toyota.

His teammate Natalie Decker is making her eighth start of the year for DGR-Crosley and has had an up-and-down experience in her first foray into the Gander Trucks. She’s crashed out of four of the races, but had respectable showings of 13th at Las Vegas and 17th at Dover.

Juan Manuel Gonzalez hails from Mexico City, Mexico, and placed fifth in the NASCAR FedEx Challenge Series in 2017 as an 18-year-old. Most recently, he tallied 10 starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2018, recording a top-10 at South Boston.

Triple Truck Challenge: $50K up for grabs at Iowa 

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series drivers will once again battle for $50,000 and bragging rights in this weekend’s M&M’s 200 presented by Casey’s General Store at Iowa Speedway (Saturday, June 15, 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), in this season’s second round of the Triple Truck Challenge.

Last weekend in Texas, Greg Biffle took home his first series victory since 2001 and the first Triple Truck Challenge bonus for Kyle Busch Motorsports. However, he is not entered and eligible for this weekend’s bonus, assuring that a new driver will be receiving the big check.

2019 Triple Truck Challenge Format Rundown:

  • The winner of each of the three events will receive an extra $50,000 bonus.
  • If a driver wins two of the three events, they are awarded an extra $50,000.
    • In addition, if a driver wins two of three races in the Triple Truck Challenge, Gander Outdoors will reward the team with an extra $150,000, with half of the earnings going to the crew.
  • If a driver wins all three events, he/she is crowned the Triple Truck Challenge champion and will receive an additional $300,000, bringing the total to $500,000 in prize money.

The “Triple Truck Challenge” is new to the series in 2019, the special bonus program takes place at three consecutive races – Texas (June 7), Iowa (June 15) and World Wide Technology at Gateway (June 22). All drivers earning series points are eligible and drivers who win one of the three races receive a $50,000 bonus.

Deja vu for Moffitt?

Last year’s NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway served as a homecoming for Grimes, Iowa, native Brett Moffitt.

Then driving for Hattori Racing Enterprises, Moffitt won his second of six wins on the year en route to winning the 2018 Gander Trucks championship as John Hunter Nemechek ran out of fuel on the final lap. That win also marks Moffitt’s lone Gander Truck visit to the track.

This season, he transitioned to GMS Racing but is still looking for his first win of the year.

Moffitt has 45 series starts under his belt with seven wins, 20 top fives, 24 top 10s and one pole. Although he has yet to win a race this season, he has finished in the top-five four times, including a pair of runner-up finishes at Las Vegas and Dover – where he started from the pole.

Enfinger maintains hold on points lead over Friesen

One of the most consistent elements of the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series has been the pair of names atop the points standings. ThorSport Racing’s Grant Enfinger has held onto the lead over Halmar Friesen Racing’s Stewart Friesen, extending the advantage to 37 points after Texas.

Also, consistent has been Enfinger on the track – although he lacks the visit to Victory Lane that he so desires. He only has one finish outside the top 10 this year, an 11th-place effort at Las Vegas. And he’s recorded five top-five finishes in the nine races this season.

Enfinger has a pair of starts at this weekend’s Midwest track, finishing fourth in 2017 and 11th in last season’s outing.

Friesen had a rare stumble at Texas last week as his race ended early after hitting the wall while battling eventual race winner Greg Biffle for the lead, relegating him to a 20th-place finish. Overall, he has had a solid season, finishing runner-up in the first trip to Texas and third at Charlotte. He has four top-five and five top-10 finishes this season.

In his lone visit to Iowa Speedway, last year, Friesen started fifth and crossed the line in ninth place.

The “Watermelon Man” is up for the challenge

Ross Chastain has appeared on more NASCAR national series entry lists this season than any other driver – in fact, he raced in all 36 races across the Monster Energy Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series up until sitting out the Cup race at Michigan this past weekend.

And last week the driver of the No. 44 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet announced that, starting with Texas, he was opting to compete for Gander Trucks points for the remainder of the 2019 season – switching over from earning points in the Xfinity Series.

He has competed in every Gander Trucks race this season, posting an average finish of 6.8 and winning the race at Kansas. However, none of the results prior to Texas count towards his Playoff potential as he started from “zero” with the switch.

The Florida native has a large, but not insurmountable, mountain to climb in order to qualify for the Gander Trucks Playoffs. Chastain must work his way into the top 20 in points (he currently sits 64 points back from 20th place) and win (another) race in the final seven contests of the regular season to have a shot at postseason glory.

And it’s entirely possible he will do that. Coming up this weekend is a track where Chastain has found success behind the wheel of a truck. During his first four races at the track in 2012 and 2013, he had an average finish of 10.5 – highlighted by a pole in the second race of 2013 and a second-place finish in that same start.

(Last year, suspension issues ended his day early at Iowa, hurting his overall average finish at the track and dropping it to 14.4.)

Overall at Iowa, Chastain has the one top-five finish and has led 116 laps – all in that second-place effort. On the season, he’s posted three top-five finishes and has landed in the top 10 in all nine races thus far.

Iowa Speedway Quick Facts

As the NASCAR Gander Outdoors 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 (nine drivers)

Parade Laps: Insights ahead of this week’s driver media breakouts  

Five drivers from the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series – Niece Motorsports driver Ross Chastain, ThorSport Racing driver Grant Enfinger, Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Todd Gilliland, Hattori Racing Enterprises driver Austin Hill and GMS Racing driver Brett Moffitt. These five drivers are preparing for the M&M’s 200 presented by Casey’s General Store this Saturday, June 15, at 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Ross Chastain (No. 44 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado)

Birthdate: Dec 4, 1992

Driver’s Age: 26

Hometown: Alva, Fla.

Hobbies: Farming Watermelons

Team: Niece Motorsports

Crew Chief: Phil Gould

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • In 2019, he won his first career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway
  • In 2013, he won his first career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series poles at Iowa Speedway and ISM Raceway.
  • In 2011, he made his NASCAR national series debut in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Lucas Oil Raceway.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Won his first career Gander Trucks race at Kansas Speedway
  • In nine starts this season he has three top-five finishes and nine top 10s.
  • He has led 66 laps this season.

Iowa Speedway Performance:

  • He has made five series starts at Iowa posting one top-five finish (2013)
  • Won pole in 2013 for Brad Keselowski Racing

Grant Enfinger (No. 98 ThorSport Racing Ford F-150)

Birthdate: January 22, 1985

Driver’s Age: 34

Hometown: Kannapolis, NC

Hobbies: Fishing, Outdoor activities, Working on cars

Team: ThorSport Racing

Crew Chief: Jeff Hensley

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, he captured his first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoff berth and finished fifth in the final points standings, the best of his career thus far in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
  • In 2017, he finished 11th in the final standings in his rookie season in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
  • In 2016, he claimed his first career NASCAR national series win at Talladega Superspeedway.
  • In 2016, posted his first NASCAR national series career pole for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season opener at Daytona.
  • In 2010, he made his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut at Talladega Superspeedway

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Current NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver points standings leader by 37 points over second-place Stewart Friesen.
  • In nine starts this season he has posted five top fives and eight top 10s.
  • He has led 110 laps this season.

Iowa Speedway Performance:

  • He has made two series starts at Iowa, posting one top-10 finish

Todd Gilliland (No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra)

Birthdate: May 15, 2000

Driver’s Age: 19

Hometown: Sherrills Ford, NC

Hobbies: Video games, Spending time with family & friends

Team: Kyle Busch Motorsports

Crew Chief: Michael Shelton

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, he competed in 19 races finishing 10th in the championship points and recorded career-highs in top fives (four) and top 10s (nine).
  • In 2017, he made his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut at Dover International Speedway for Kyle Busch Motorsports. In total, made six starts, posting two top fives and three top 10s

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently ninth in NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver championship point standings
  • In nine starts this season he has posted one top five and four top 10s.
  • He has led 39 laps this season.

Iowa Speedway Performance:

  • Made first Gander Outdoors Truck Series start in 2018
  • Won NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race in 2017 & 2016

Austin Hill (No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota Tundra)

Birthdate: April 21, 1994

Driver’s Age: 25

Hometown: Winston, GA

Hobbies: Hunting, spending time with family and boating

Team: Hattori Racing Enterprises

Crew Chief: Scott Zipadelli

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • 2019 marks Hill’s second full-time season in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Trucks Series.
  • He made his Gander Trucks debut in 2014 at Martinsville, finishing 26th.
  • Finished 11th in 2018 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championship points, his first full season.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently seventh in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series points standings.
  • Recorded his first career win at the season-opener at Daytona.
  • In nine starts this season he has posted one win (Daytona), two top 10s an average finish of 11.8.

Iowa Speedway Performance:

  • Hill has made one previous start at the 7/8-mile track, last season, when he started 18th and finished 14th

Brett Moffitt (No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado)

Birthdate: August 7, 1992

Driver’s Age: 26

Hometown: Grimes, Iowa

Team: GMS Racing

Crew Chief: Jerry Baxter

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Career Highlights:

  • Last season, Moffitt drove Hattori Racing Enterprise’s No. 16 Toyota to six wins, leading the way for the first career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship for both Moffitt and HRE.
  • Won his first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race in 2016, taking home the checkers at Michigan for Red Horse Racing.
  • Made the most of his six NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series starts in 2016, with three top-three finishes and four top 10s.
  • In 2013, entered the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series scene with a pair of starts (Kentucky and Michigan).

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently fourth in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series points.
  • In nine starts this season he has posted four top fives and an average finish of 10.4
  • Has led 125 laps this season.

Iowa Speedway Performance:

  • Won the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck series race in 2018
  • Won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race in 2011