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June 2018
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‘Motor Sports’ Articles

NASCAR Monster Cup Series takes Father’s Day off; Xfinity & Camping World Series head to Iowa Speedway





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.




Marco Andretti starts first for Saturday’s IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix; first pole on street or road course




Marco Andretti at 2015 Indy 500 practice By Sarah Stierch - Own work, CC BY 4.0, https

Andretti snaps pole drought

DETROIT (Saturday, June 2, 2018)  - Marco Andretti became the seventh different Verizon P1 Award winner in as many Verizon IndyCar Series races this season when he captured the pole position today in qualifying for the first race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear.

Driving the No. 98 AutoNation/Curb Honda for Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, the third-generation Indy car driver sizzled around the Raceway at Belle Isle Park temporary street course in 1 minute, 14.8514 seconds (113.024 mph) on his last lap to collect the fifth pole position of his 13-year career and first since Pocono Raceway in July 2013.

CHEVROLET DETROIT GRAND PRIX: Race 1 qualifying results

Andretti will lead the field to the green flag in this afternoon’s race. It marks the first pole for the 31-year-old on a road or street circuit.

“I’m definitely embarrassed to say that this is my first (road/street pole), but I’ve been outside pole so many times on road and street courses,” Andretti said. “Extremely pleased to execute today. I think yesterday I knew we had the speed … so I knew we had it in the car. All I had to do was execute, and I was able to do that instead of just talking, ‘Oh we would have been first.’ Now we are.”

Andretti will look to erase an even longer drought this afternoon. He hasn’t won a race since 2011 at Iowa Speedway, a stretch of 115 races.

“It’s not easy to be first in anything,” he said. “It’s been a challenge. The win column is what’s really been bugging me, for sure. Starting first is awesome, but I definitely want to win the race. We have a great shot at doing that today. As soon as I knew we won pole, the switch in my brain flipped to win.”

In the unique qualifying format for the Detroit doubleheader weekend, the 23-car field was split into two groups – with each group receiving 12 minutes of track time on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn circuit. Scott Dixon, in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, was quickest in the first group with a lap of 1:15.4186 (112.174 mph) and will start alongside Andretti on the front row.

“The PNC Bank car has been pretty good,” Dixon said. “We haven’t changed too much on it. It was a pretty rough lap, actually. The car actually had more speed in it. Kinda hit the wall in (Turns) 8 and 6 on the inside. Hit the curb big in (Turn) 11, which launched the car. It was a very scrappy lap.”

“We’re happy to be on the front row. Hopefully, we can race well and the goal is to go one spot better. Congrats to Marco. They did a great job across the board.”

Under the format, the drivers in Andretti’s qualifying group will occupy the odd-numbered grid positions for the 70-lap race, based on their qualifying times. The drivers from Dixon’s group will fill in the even-numbered starting positions.

Honda-powered drivers swept the first five qualifying positions and nine of the top 11. Rookie Robert Wickens will start third in the No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda (1:15.3267), with Alexander Rossi fourth in the No. 27 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda (1:15.4946).

Will Power, who won the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 27 to take the championship lead after six races, will start sixth in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Graham Rahal, who swept both Belle Isle wins a year ago, goes off eighth today in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda.

The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix is the only doubleheader weekend on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. Live coverage of today’s race, the seventh of 17 this season, airs on ABC (3:30 p.m. ET) and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network (3 p.m.). Race 2 airs at the same times Sunday.


Andretti Autosport charge led by Ryan Hunter-Reay in Belle Isle’s Friday practice




Ryan Hunter-Reay being interviewed by NBC Sports in 2015 By Sarah Stierch - Own work, CC BY 4.0, https

Hunter-Reay leads Andretti charge in practice at Detroit’s Belle Isle

DETROIT (Friday, June 1, 2018) – There’s a new car for Verizon IndyCar Series competition in 2018, but it’s still the same old challenging track at Belle Isle Park. And the drivers love it.

Ryan Hunter-Reay led practice for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear on the 14-turn, 2.35-mile temporary street course noted for its concrete surface and constant bumps. Friday’s practices are the only scheduled for the doubleheader race weekend, with qualifying and races scheduled each of the next two days.

CHEVROLET DETROIT GRAND PRIX: Practice 1 resultsPractice 2 resultsCombined practice results

With all 23 entries driving cars equipped with the universal aero kit that debuted at the start of the season for the first time in Detroit, Hunter-Reay posted the top practice lap in the last of two 45-minute sessions, at 1 minute, 16.3598 seconds (110.791 mph).

“Oh, it’s certainly busy out there, I can tell you that,” said Hunter-Reay, the 2012 series champion driving the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport. “I don’t think anybody would be 100 percent satisfied with the balance that they have, but that’s the choice. It’s a lot of fun around here. You really have to wheel the car to get it done.”

All four Andretti Autosport cars finished in the top 10 in the practice sessions. Following Hunter-Reay on the combined timesheet were teammates Marco Andretti in fifth, Alexander Rossi in eighth and Zach Veach in 10th.

“Hats off to the Andretti Autosport team,” said Hunter-Reay, whose best finish in 13 Belle Isle starts was second place in 2013 (Race 1). “We came here with a much better car this year. I was really happy with the balance, even to start out with. The car was basically doing the fundamentals that I needed it to do, the front was working well, and from there we just kept chipping away at it.”

Scott Dixon was second on the day with a lap of 1:16.3667 (110.781 mph) in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. The 2012 Belle Isle winner said he also enjoys racing on the rough track surface, even with the new car that generates significantly less downforce and makes it even more difficult to negotiate the bumps.

“I find this place always tricky, no matter what,” said Dixon, the four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion who is fourth in the current standings after six races. “Any generation of car that I’ve been in, and even if you go back to the previous Dallara, it’s always difficult around here. It’s very bumpy, it’s very physical, it’s very hard to get right, but I think that’s what makes it so much fun, too.”

James Hinchcliffe, who missed last week’s Indianapolis 500 when he was bumped from the field in qualifying, was third overall in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda. Brake issues limited the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports drivers to 11 laps in the first practice, but he was much happier in the afternoon.

“Even on the blacks (Firestone primary tires) before I went to the reds (Firestone alternate tires), the car got miles better, really just sorted it out and the track came alive,” Hinchcliffe said. “Then we put the reds on and managed to get a solid time out of it.”

Will Power, who won the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil five days earlier and is the points leader, was 12th on the speed chart (1:16.8647). Graham Rahal, who won both races of the Detroit weekend a year ago, was sixth (1:16.7098).

Qualifying for the first race of the weekend – with the field split into two groups that receive 12 minutes of track time each – starts at 10:55 a.m. ET Saturday (live stream The 70-lap race airs live at 3:30 p.m. on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Qualifying for Race 2 is set for 10:45 a.m. Sunday (live stream on, with race coverage starting at 3:30 p.m. that day on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Firestone introduces new rain tire for Verizon IndyCar Series competition

With rain that seemingly makes an annual appearance at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear – and there are chances of it affecting the race weekend again – Firestone Racing couldn’t have selected a better time to debut its latest wet-weather tire for Verizon IndyCar Series competition.

The first new rain tire design in three years for INDYCAR’s exclusive supplier since 2000 has an updated tread pattern to better evacuate water from underneath the tires. Less water between the tires and track surface equals greater traction and grip.

Cara Adams, chief engineer of Bridgestone Americas Motorsports that develops and produces the Firestone Racing brand, said the new rain tires feature an asymmetric and directional tread pattern “to achieve ultimate water evacuation, braking, acceleration and cornering performance” for the competitors in wet conditions.

“There isn’t a specific thing that caused (development) for this new tire,” Adams said Friday when the tire was introduced at the Raceway at Belle Isle. “We are ever evolving our technology at Bridgestone Motorsports and we need to be. With our ability to be at the track, we are always communicating with the drivers and engineers and getting their feedback. We take what they tell us and take it back so we can improve our tires.”

Newgarden beats high school friend, NFL player Tate in table tennis showdown

Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden caught up with a high school chum for a game of table tennis. The friend happened to be NFL wide receiver Golden Tate of the Detroit Lions.

Newgarden and Tate attended Pope John Paul II High School in Hendersonville, Tennessee, before Newgarden went on to a successful racing career and Tate matriculated to play football at the University of Notre Dame and then the NFL.

The duo reunited at the Drive Table Tennis Social Club in Detroit on Wednesday to challenge each other in a friendly game with a charitable donation on the line. Newgarden won the best-of-three match, earning a $2,500 donation to the Serious Fun Children’s Network from Tate.

“It was great to catch up with Golden here in Detroit,” said Newgarden, the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champion who encountered weather delays on his way to Detroit that made him late to the event.

“I don’t think we’ve seen each other since high school. When we were growing up, he was always the best athlete in school and it’s been incredible to watch his career and see him achieve so much success.

“He put up a great fight in the match. I think I froze him a bit with my travel being delayed. All in all, it was a ton of fun to go head-to-head, especially for a couple of great causes.”


IndyCar Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix quotes from Friday’s practice




‘What They’re Saying’ from Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear practice

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “Solid first day here in Detroit. We’ve got some great pace and I feel confident we’ll be able to challenge for the Verizon P1 award tomorrow in qualifying. It’s a jam-packed weekend with not a lot of time for adjustments, so I’m very pleased the crew at Team Penske put together a car for me that was this comfortable out of the gate.”

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “The day went OK, I think. It is my first time here in Detroit, so the first couple laps in Practice 1, we just concentrated on learning the track and getting some laps in. It’s a pretty tricky track, very bumpy, probably the bumpiest track I’ve ever been to, but it is OK. We still have some work to do for tomorrow – we are struggling a little bit with the red (Firestone alternate) tires; on the blacks (Firestone primary tires), we seem OK. Happy to be here, I think it’s a nice street course. Looking forward to both races this weekend.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda):
“Up and down first day. In the first session, we had some issues with the brakes and we were really struggling to get the car to feel the way I wanted. Huge credit to the Arrow Electronics guys… this seems to be a trend of ours in 2018: turning around from a bad session and making it a good one. Even on the blacks (Firestone primary tires) before I went to the reds (alternate Firestone tires), the car got miles better, really just sorted it out and the track came alive. Then we put the reds on and managed to get a solid time out of it. It’s still early. It sucks to get so little practice here in Detroit, but it’s the same for everyone. We just have to make the best of it and try and put a good show on tomorrow.”

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): “A pretty good day here in Detroit with the No. 6 Lucas Oil guys. On the red (Firestone alternate tires) in Practice 2, I made a mistake and lost about four-tenths (of a second) and we’re still in the top 10, so we’ve got a strong car. We just have to minimize our mistakes tomorrow to get a good qualifying spot and try to score some good points in the race. Everything is looking pretty great here at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with both of our cars in the top 10 again.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda):
“I think, overall, we had a really good day and I was very happy with our PNC Bank car out there. The speed on the black Firestone (primary) tires was really good and the car felt quite good on the reds (Firestone alternate tires) after that when we improved the times. I got into the wall around Turn 13 and lost some time, but the car just has a ton of speed and hopefully we can translate that into two good points-paying (races) here in Detroit.”

ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda):
“It was a tough day. This track is always difficult. In the first session, we tried some things that we weren’t happy with in the NTT DATA car, but made some progress in the second session. We were the only car not on sticker blacks (new Firestone primary tires) in the beginning, and we looked pretty competitive at that point. When we went to the reds (Firestone alternate tires), we missed something pretty fundamental where we were bottoming out, which made it difficult to get the tires up to temp. But we made a big jump after Practice 1 and I’m excited to see what we can do tomorrow.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “Today’s practices were not bad. We kind of made a mistake when we were doing pretty well in that last session. We still have a bit of pace to find compared to the other cars, but the No. 12 Verizon Chevy team is working to find it.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet):
“It was a good first session and then we got a little bit messed up in the second. We hadn’t changed much from the morning. I think we were closer in the first session than the second. I think the other guys made a big jump, so we’ve got a little bit of work to do overnight. With the red flags, and my red flag, we didn’t have a lot of time to do anything, so we’ll think about it and come back in qualifying tomorrow.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals Honda):
“In the end, the United Rentals car was not bad. We certainly weren’t great, but our pace is close. We struggled with the car being very, very loose compared to last year. We made a big change mid-session, before we had even done any real running. We just took a big swing at it, just because we felt that with the red flag, we were going to lose time if we didn’t just try it. It was probably the wrong way to go, so now we know that and we will go back and adjust for qualifying and hopefully we will be OK.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda): “Overall, a good day for the SealMaster Honda No. 18 team. We started pretty good this morning after we made a change. The car was not really in the zone to begin with, then we made one change and it brought things to life. I did a decent lap and it held up for the rest of the session. This afternoon the track gripped up, the temperature went up and it seemed to be tough on the tires. We are not quite where we should be on the speed report, maybe three tenths (of a second) off, so we’ll see if we can fine-tune things and optimize for tomorrow. It is going to be a bit of a challenge tomorrow because it is going to cool off and it is very likely to rain tonight. We’ll see what happens.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): “My first official day in the No. 19 Paysafe car was really good. To end up P6 in the first session was very nice. We’re obviously still working on the car. We struggled a bit more with the understeer in the second practice session, but I’m confident we’ll get it sorted out. The track is ridiculously bumpy and very fast. It’s a little ‘icy’ too, so it’s a little bit like a skating rink for race cars, but I’m very much enjoying my time here, enjoying the track and driving the car.”

JORDAN KING (No. 20 Allegiant International Chevrolet): “We had a good feel of the circuit today and we got up to speed quite quickly. At the beginning of the second session, coming into the last corner, I lost the rear and got a bit of a snap. It wasn’t a big thing, but by the time I caught the car, I was in too wide and then, obviously, the wall was right there. When we touched the wall, it broke the left rear which caused me to go across the circuit and hit the right side of the car. It’s really annoying because it was a tiny error, but it was quite costly.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “We made some good improvements today. The second session was definitely a lot better, especially on blacks (Firestone primary tires). We didn’t get a good run in on reds (Firestone alternate tires) because of traffic and the red flag periods, but we are still encouraged. I am looking forward to qualifying in the morning and having the first race of the weekend tomorrow afternoon.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a good day. I think the No. 22 DXC Technology Chevy is getting to where I want to be. This weekend we’re in a Chevy town, so we want to do well for them. We have strong competition from the Hondas. It’s going to be tough, but I feel like we’ve done a great job from Practice 1 to Practice 2, so we’re improving the car. Tomorrow, we’re going to try and get into the Firestone Fast Six.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet):
“It was kind of a scattered session. Every time we were getting ready to do a quick lap, it went red or yellow or we got held up in traffic. I’m a little disappointed with where we are on the timing sheets – I know there’s more in the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet. We found a couple of things in the setup that were much improved toward the end of that last session. I think we did our fastest lap time with old tires and a lot of fuel in the car, so that’s not bad at all. We’re not happy with 20th, but the Carlin team has done a great job preparing for this race. We rolled off the truck looking really good, so we’ll continue to make improvements tonight and hopefully have a solid qualifying session tomorrow morning and a good race result.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Relay Group 1001 Honda):
“Day 1 in Detroit is done and I’m happy with it. I’ve never raced here, so it’s been a little bit of a learning experience. To be seventh quick in the morning, 10th quick in the afternoon and only a tenth (of a second) out of the top five – I have a lot to feel good about. I think the Relay car is a lot stronger than it showed in the second session. I’m really excited. I’ve never felt more confident that I can start in the top six, and I’ve never felt more confident that I have a car that can run in the top five and put me in a position to win. We just have to make sure we make small changes and make good decisions tomorrow because it’s going to be a busy day.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda): “It was a good day, the Ruoff Home Mortgage car is a fast race car. We had a bit of a disjointed session with going opposite of some people on tire strategy. With that being said, we’re really happy and looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully, there are no curveballs with the weather and we can carry on with where we are.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “It’s a lot of fun around here. You really have to wheel the car to get it done, but hats off to the Andretti Autosport team. We came here with a much better car this year. I was really happy with the balance on the DHL car, even to start out with. The car was basically doing the fundamentals that I needed it to do, the front was working well and from there we just kept chipping away at it. It was a good first practice today, but a lot is riding on tomorrow with qualifying and Race 1.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Fifth Third Bank Honda): “The day was a little bit of a mixture of results. We found some positives, but mostly we were struggling with an issue with the brakes and other things, so and never really solved them. It never felt comfortable, unfortunately, and with the short sessions, that’s what we’ve got. At least we have been competitive here most of the time, so we will see how it turns out in qualifying.”

RENE BINDER (No. 32 Binderholz tiptop Timber Chevrolet): “It’s been a difficult first day in Detroit – the first time I have been to this circuit. It’s really tricky and the most difficult track I have ever drove on. I’m trying to get used to the bumps and the circuit. The more laps we are able to do, the better I will get. I am looking forward to tomorrow and will do my best.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet):
“It wasn’t bad for us today. Outside of the Penske cars, we were the fastest Chevrolet car out there – I think that’s the first time we’ve done that this season. We’ve been right up there all day in the timing sheets, but we dropped down at the end of the session because a lot of the other cars went to reds (Firestone alternate tires) toward the end. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the balance and hopefully we can get a clean day ahead of us tomorrow.”

GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet):
“Just finished the first day of practice in Detroit. We found a lot that we could improve on in between practice sessions, so we’re really happy with that. We still need to work on a few things, but for the most part, it was good to use the second session to get some laps in and work out the kinks on some things. Overall, I’m very happy with the direction we’ve taken. The results don’t show it yet, but I think we’ll keep improving this weekend.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 AutoNation / Curb Honda):
“It was a pretty good Day 1. We know where the time is, so that’s good. From here we just have small changes, and then hopefully we’re able to execute in qualifying and we can have a really good race for the AutoNation team.”


NASCAR Monster Cup, Xfinity Series heads to Pocono this weekend; Camping World Series off this week





Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Pocono 400

The Place: Pocono Raceway

The Date: Sunday, June 3

The Time: 2 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 12:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400 miles (160 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 50),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 100), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 160)

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: Pocono Green 250

The Place: Pocono Raceway

The Date: Saturday, June 2

The Time: 1 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 12:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 250 miles (100 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 25),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 50), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 100)


NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Next Race: Rattlesnake 400

The Place: Texas Motor Speedway

The Date: Friday, June 8

The Time: 9 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 8 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 250.5 miles (167 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 40),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 80), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 167)


Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series


Kyle Busch Looking for Another Win Streak

Fresh off a career day at Charlotte Motor Speedway, last week’s race winner Kyle Busch returns to Pocono Raceway for the Pocono 400 (on Sunday, June 3 at 2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) hoping to ride the wave of success.


As his did in Charlotte on Sunday night, Busch picked up his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at the Pocono 2.5-miler last July – his only win in 26 starts at the track. It was a strong showing, however, with Busch winning from the Busch Pole position – a place he started at both Pocono races in 2017.


The driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota has been finishing nearly as well as he starts at Pocono. He has three Busch pole awards (August 2015 was the other) and four top-10 finishes in the last six Pocono races, including the last three-straight. He led 100 laps in this race last year and finished ninth. He led 74 laps in the second Pocono race later in the summer en route to his first victory at the track.


Harvick Is Right Back At It

Although Kevin Harvick’s two-race winning streak was rather abruptly halted Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a last-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600, he can arrive at Pocono Raceway feeling hopeful.


Harvick has yet to visit Victory Lane at the 2.5-mile “Tricky Triangle” and is 0-for-34 there.  He has led laps in only five of the last 15 races (63 total laps). However, last season was a sign that his fortune may be changing.


He was runner-up in both races (to Ryan Blaney and to Kyle Busch) and has posted four second-place finishes among six top-10s in the last seven races at Pocono. His overall average finish since 2005 – despite not visiting Victory Lane – is 10.5, trailing only Erik Jones’ 5.5 average finish.


Quiet Success for Logano

Penske Racing’s Joey Logano is keeping a stealth eye on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings. He is second to Charlotte winner Kyle Busch by 67 points, which isn’t too shabby considering Busch has four wins to Logano’s one. And Logano’s 10 top-10 finishes equals the outstanding top-10 production of both Busch and five-time season winner Kevin Harvick.


He has three top-five finishes in the last five races, including the Talladega victory, and he’s led laps in all but three of the season’s 13 races.


It all should make an encouraging outlook at Pocono for Logano, who won this race in 2012 from the Busch Pole position. But, he’ll have to turn around a recent string of poor finishes at Pocono to come out on top. Despite five top-10s in the last eight races there, his most recent three starts netted finishes of 37th, 23rd and 27th.


Fond Memories for Hamlin

The “Tricky Triangle” as Pocono is lovingly known, has been one of the most productive venues for Denny Hamlin, who won the first two Pocono starts of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career, sweeping the 2006 season races as a 25-year-old rookie. And of note – both of those wins came from the Busch Pole position.


He scored another set of back-to-back victories while winning the second Pocono race of 2009 and the first of 2010. More recently, he has five top-10s in his last eight starts at the track.


It bodes well for Hamlin, who is one of five drivers ranked among the top 10 in points without a victory in 2018. Third place is the best showing for Hamlin this season and he’s done it three times (Daytona, Richmond, and this past Sunday night at Charlotte). He has four top-10 finishes in the last five races and has led laps in 10 of the season’s 13 races to date. His eight top-five finishes are second only to Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick who all have 10.


“We’re just third or fourth best every week,’’ the driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota said Sunday night after his third-place finish at Charlotte. “That’s frustrating, but it could be 35 spots worse.”


“We’re either really good or we’re average at best. We need to get a little bit better. I think the 78 (Truex), the 4 (Harvick) and the 18 (Kyle Busch) are all a little bit faster than us and we’re just kind of right there next in line.’’


Kurt Busch is Heating Up

Pocono may just be the venue that Kurt Busch uses to automatically punch his ticket to NASCAR’s Playoffs. The former series champion has three wins and two Busch Pole Awards there. And he has three top-five finishes — including a 2016 victory – in his last six Pocono races.


Busch has looked impressive this year in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Ford and takes a streak of four consecutive top-10 finishes into Pocono this weekend. He has seven top-10s through the season’s 13 races and is ranked sixth in the points standings – and his three Stewart-Haas teammates join him in the championship top-10. Kevin Harvick is third, Clint Bowyer is eighth and Aric Almirola in 10th.

Pocono Could Be the One for Erik Jones

Granted it’s based on only two starts, but second-year Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Erik Jones has already put up impressive numbers at Pocono Raceway – enough to statistically make him the top-rated driver in several key loop data categories (which includes races since 2005).


Jones finished third in his Monster Energy Series debut at this race last June – his first career Cup top five – and answered with an eighth-place finish later in the summer. So, his 5.5 average finish and 8.312 average running position help boost his driver rating to a 106.5, the series-best.


And while two races are not enough of a sample size to properly compare with those who have been racing at Pocono for a dozen years, it does provide plenty of optimism for his visit this weekend.


He ran 290 of the two races’ 320 laps in the top-15 and led laps in both races. His 20 laps out front in this race last year was his second-highest total of laps led his rookie season, second to an impressive 260 laps out front and a runner-up finish at Bristol in the fall.


Jones has five top 10s through the first 13 races of 2018 in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota and led a season-high 64 laps before posting a season-best finish of fourth at Texas Motor Speedway last month. He’s ranked 13th in the points standings – well within the early-look top-16 threshold for qualifying for the Playoffs.


Sunoco Rookie Runs

Pocono Raceway is a significant venue for one of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ high-profile Sunoco rookies, Bubba Wallace. This is where Wallace made his series debut last year (finishing 26th), filling in for the injured Aric Almirola in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports car he now drives full-time.


Wallace is in a tight Sunoco Rookie of the Year battle with Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron, whose tough-luck day at Charlotte (he finished 39th after being involved in an incident) helped significantly tighten the points standings between them.


Wallace, who finished 16th at Charlotte, has one top-five effort – a runner-up finish in the season-opening Daytona 500 – and is ranked 23rd in the standings. Byron, who has one top-10 and three DNFs in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, is ranked 22nd – a slim two points ahead of Wallace.



NASCAR Xfinity Series


Aero Package Highlights Return To Pocono Raceway

Pocono Raceway has been a 2.5-mile track since 1971, but it wasn’t until recently (2016) that the NASCAR Xfinity Series started competing at the famous triangular-shaped facility. In the series’ third trip to the “Tricky Triangle” this weekend, fans and media alike will have the opportunity to see some action-packed, close racing as the aero package that incorporates the enlarged splitter and spoiler, specially designed air ducts and restrictor plates will be used in the Pocono Green “250″ Recycled by JP Mascaro & Sons on June 2 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.


This specific aero package hasn’t been used in the NASCAR Xfinity Series since last season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where it set track records in green flag passes for the lead (29) and lead changes (16).


Kyle Larson took home the checkered flag in the inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Pocono Raceway in 2016, a race that saw three green flag passes for the lead and six total lead changes. Then last season, Brad Keselowski grabbed the win in an event with 10 green flag passes for the lead and 12 lead changes.


With 10 different drivers winning the first 11 races of this season, another new winner could again be on the horizon. Three drivers in the top five of the series championship driver points – standings leader Elliott Sadler, fourth place Daniel Hemric and fifth place Cole Custer – are all still looking for their first win of 2018. Of the top five in championship points, the same three are the only ones with previous experience at Pocono – average finishes: Sadler (5.0), Custer (7.0), Hemric (9.0). Sunoco Rookies Christopher Bell (second in the driver standings) and Tyler Reddick (third in the driver standings) will be making their series debuts at Pocono this weekend.


A Look At The Top Five In Points Nearing Halfway Of The Regular Season

Nearing the halfway point of the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season, the top five drivers in the title hunt are all still within 62 points of the standings lead, making the regular season championship and the 15 Playoff points that go with it still anyone’s to win. Here is a quick look at the top five in points and their accomplishments this season:


  1. Elliott Sadler – No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro – is the current standings leader with a 48-point lead over second place Christopher Bell. Sadler has held the points lead following all but two races thus far this season. In 11 starts in 2018, Sadler has posted nine top fives and 11 top 10s.  He also has produced a series-leading 4.6 average finish this season and won three stages, accumulating three Playoff points. Coming into this weekend, Sadler has made both previous series starts at Pocono, posting one top five, two top 10s and an average finish of 5.0. Sadler is looking to end a winless streak that has reached 51 consecutive races, dating back to Kentucky in 2016.


  1. Christopher Bell – No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry – resides in second in the series driver standings, 48 points behind Elliott Sadler in the points lead, and a mere seven points ahead of third-place Tyler Reddick. Bell and the No. 20 JGR team were dinged with a 10-point penalty following Charlotte, but were able to hold onto second in the standings. In 11 starts this season, Bell has amassed three poles, one win (Richmond), seven top fives and an average finish of 10.9. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender has also accumulated seven Playoff points this season – five from his win at Richmond and two more from stage wins. This weekend will be a challenge for Bell, as it will be his debut in this aero package and his series track debut at Pocono Raceway.


  1. Tyler Reddick – No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro – currently hangs on to third in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver championship standings, just seven points behind second-place Christopher Bell and just two points ahead of fourth-place Daniel Hemric. Reddick kicked the season off with a big win at Daytona and since has been trying to navigate the steep learning curve a title hunt in your rookie season can throw at you. In 11 starts this season, Reddick has posted one win (Daytona), two top fives, seven top 10s and an average finish of 11.1. This weekend will be Reddick’s series track debut at Pocono Raceway, but he is not a stranger to the new aero package as he competed at Indianapolis last season for Chip Ganassi Racing – he started 18th but finished 37th after being caught in an incident.


  1. Daniel Hemric – No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro – sits fourth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings two points back from Tyler Reddick in third and five points ahead of fifth-place Cole Custer. After a slow start to the season, Hemric has found his stride in the title hunt. In 11 starts this season, Hemric has produced two poles, four top fives, seven top 10s and an average finish of 11.1. Hemric has also won two stages, accumulating two Playoff points. He made series track debut at Pocono last season, starting second and finishing ninth. He also competed at Indianapolis last season in the aero package that will be run this weekend, posting an eighth-place finish.


  1. Cole Custer – No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang – rounds out the top five in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings, five points behind fourth-place Daniel Hemric and 15 points ahead of sixth-place Justin Allgaier. Custer’s talent is continuing to blossom before our eyes. In 11 starts this season, he has posted two poles, two top fives and eight top 10s (second-most this season behind Elliott Sadler’s 11). His average finish this season is 10.7. Custer made his series track debut at Pocono last season; starting third and finishing seventh. He also competed at Indianapolis last season, posting a top five in the aero package that will be run this weekend at Pocono.

Paul Menard To Debut In The Team Penske No. 22

Paul Menard will race in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this weekend at Pocono riding in the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske. He last drove in a Xfinity contest in 2017 and registered three top-10 finishes in seven starts, including a second-place showing at Indianapolis.


Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford is currently second in the Xfinity Series owner standings. It trails first-place Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota team by 67 points through the first 11 races of the season.


The No. 22 has reached Victory Lane four times this season with three different drivers: Brad Keselowski (Phoenix, Charlotte), Joey Logano (Auto Club) and Ryan Blaney (Texas).


Menard claims three career Xfinity Series victories.  His last win came at Road America in 2015.

Fast And Furious: Grala Places 10th In Debut With Fury Race Cars

Eleven days ago, promising 19-year-old NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Kaz Grala was left without a ride after his JGL Racing Team shut down operations.


Luckily for Grala, Fury Race Cars stepped in. Prior to last weekend, Fury Race Cars had only competed in the Late Model and Modified divisions of NASCAR in its first two years of existence.


Grala didn’t disappoint the upstart organization in its series debut, placing 10th in Saturday’s Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was the second top-10 finish of the season for the Massachusetts native, who sits 16th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings.


“Our debut performance at Charlotte is going to be hard to follow up, but that’s not stopping anyone here at Fury Race Cars from working hard to get even better. I can’t wait to see how it goes,” said Grala.


The Sunoco Rookie of Year contender is scheduled to run the next three series contests for Fury Race Cars, and this weekend will be his series track debut at Pocono Raceway.


“I love going to Pocono because it’s one of the quirkiest tracks on the circuit. I’ve done two races there before in ARCA and Trucks, with a pole in the ARCA race,” said Grala. “With our aero package this weekend, however, I’m not sure how much prior experience is going to matter. Nobody knows exactly what to expect or what kind of racing style we will see on Saturday, so I have to be prepared for anything.”


Playoff Bubble Update: Cindric Clutches On To Final Spot

Nearing the halfway point of the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season the competitive intensity is rising as several drivers need to better position themselves if they want a shot at the postseason. Currently Austin Cindric, who has split seat time between Roush Fenway Racing and Team Penske this season, holds the 12th and final Playoff spot in the series; just 19 points ahead of 13th-place Michael Annett and 21 points ahead of 14th-place Ross Chastain – both of whom made the Playoffs last season.


This season Austin Cindric has made 11 starts posting one top five, four top 10s and average finish of 18.7. This weekend will be Cindric’s series track debut at Pocono Raceway.


Xfinity Series Quick Facts: Pocono Raceway

Below are some quick statistics to get you in the know for this weekend’s Pocono Green “250″ Recycled by JP Mascaro & Sons at Pocono Raceway on June 2 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

  • Races: 2
  • Race Winners: Kyle Larson (2016), Brad Keselowski (2017)
  • Youngest Race Winner: Kyle Larson (June 4, 2016 – 23 years, 6 months, 4 days)
  • Oldest Race Winner: Brad Keselowski (June 10, 2017 – 33 years, 3 months, 29 days)
  • Poles: 2
  • Pole Winners:  Erik Jones (2016), Kyle Benjamin (2017)
  • Youngest Pole Winner: Kyle Benjamin (June 10, 2017 – 19 years, 7 months, 7 days)
  • Oldest Pole Winner: Erik Jones (June 4, 2016 – 20 years, 0 Months, 5 days)
  • 2017 Stage Winners: Brad Keselowski (Stage 1 and Stage 2)
  • Kyle Larson is the only driver to finish in the top-five in each of the two NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Pocono Raceway.
  • Four drivers have posted two top-10 finishes in the two series starts at Pocono Raceway – Ty Dillon, Kyle Larson, Elliott Sadler and Daniel Suarez.
  • A total of 10 different series drivers have led laps at Pocono, led by Kyle Larson with 42.


NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Monsters Invade Pocono – This weekend just three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers will be competing at Pocono Raceway – Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota), Paul Menard (No. 22 Ford) and Chase Elliott (No. 23 Chevrolet). Busch, the series leader in wins (91), is looking to add to his record total with a win this weekend; he finished fourth in this event in 2016.

Lots Of Series Track Debuts This Weekend – Experience will be at a premium come Saturday in the Pocono Green “250″ Recycled by JP Mascaro & Sons at Pocono Raceway on June 2 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio as 15 of 41 drivers entered will be making their NASCAR Xfinity Series track debut.

Pocono Inks Multi-Year Deal With JP Mascaro & Sons -  Pocono Raceway announced this month a multi-year partnership with J. P. Mascaro & Sons under which the June 2 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at ‘The Tricky Triangle’ has been named the Pocono Green 250 Recycled by J. P. Mascaro & Sons. Also, as part of this partnership, J.P. Mascaro & Sons will serve as at the ‘Official Waste Services and Recycling Provider of Pocono Raceway.’


“Being a family business ourselves, we welcome the opportunity to partner with J. P. Mascaro & Sons, a third-generation family-owned and operated business that is an industry leader in waste service and recycling solutions,” said Pocono Raceway’s President, Ben May.


Tickets to the Pocono Green 250 Recycled by J. P. Mascaro & Sons are available starting at $25.00 for adults and free for kids, ages 12 and under. For tickets and more information, visit



NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Johnny Sauter Seeks Fourth Victory in Texas

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has another weekend off before they hit the road to Texas Motor Speedway for the Rattlesnake 400 on Friday, June 8 (at 9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).


Johnny Sauter is having a career-season with three wins so far in 2018 (Daytona, Dover and Charlotte). Sauter’s victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway marked his first at the track and 20th career series win. It was also his 10th win with GMS Racing since joining the team in 2016.

Sauter now has 20 consecutive top-10 finishes at 1.5-mile tracks.


The last time the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series went to Texas, Sauter took home the victory. He’s been a strong contender at the speedway, having visited it 19 times. He has four wins at the track, nine top fives, 15 top 10s and three poles.


Could Sauter go back-to-back and win not only two races in a row but two in a row at Texas? Quite possibly. Sauter has won two races in a consecutively three times in his career – 2013, 2016 and 2017.


It should be noted that of his 20 career wins, Sauter has won the most at Texas with four followed by three each at Martinsville and Daytona.

Sauter Racing to History

Sauter has become the sixth different driver in series history to post three or more wins (Daytona, Dover and Charlotte) in the first seven races of the season; joining Kyle Busch (four wins: 2014, 2011), Matt Crafton (three wins: 2015), Mike Skinner (three wins: 2007, 1996, 1995), Ron Hornaday Jr. (three wins: 1995) and Ted Musgrave (three wins: 2001).


If Sauter wins at Texas, he will be 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 to ever do that.


In 1995, Mike Skinner won eight of the 20 series races and captured the championship. Like Sauter, he won three of the first seven races (and went on to win four of the first eight races). None of the other drivers went on to win the championship after posting three or more wins in the first seven races of the season.


Looking ahead to Texas, Sauter has visited Fort Worth 19 times in his career and has been very successful. Matt Crafton is the only driver who has visited the track more than Sauter with 34 trips to the 1.5-mile oval.


So far this season, Sauter hasn’t started outside of the top ten and has finished in the top five in every race except for Martinsville, where he finished 19th.


Since the second race at Martinsville last year, Sauter has run in ten races total and hasn’t finished outside of the top-five in any of them except Martinsville this spring. Of those ten races, he won five of them.


In 2017, Sauter had his career-best tally with four wins. Only seven races into the 2018 season and he is one win away from tying that record and then he aims to pass it.


Year         Wins
2014            1
2015            0
2016            3
2017            4
2018            3

Texas Motor Speedway Trends

Looking back at some of the interesting trends coming out of Texas Motor Speedway, from 2014 to 2017 the eventual series champion won at the track each year. Matt Crafton won at Texas in 2014 and went ahead to win the championship. In 2015 Erik Jones did the same, followed by Johnny Sauter in 2016 and Christopher Bell in 2017.


Before 2014, this happened four times. In 2010 and 2006 for Todd Bodine, in 2001 for Jack Sprague and in 2000 for Greg Biffle.


Could this track be a helpful hint when foreshadowing the next champion?

There are only four active drivers in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series who have won a race at Texas Motor Speedway – Kyle Busch, Matt Crafton, Travis Kvapil and Johnny Sauter.

Crafton Craves 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 rules on 1.5-mile tracks in the past but has not had any success so far this year.


He has visited Texas 34 times, the most of any driver in the series, but only has two wins at the track.


However, he has 13 top fives and 23 top 10s under his belt to go with those two wins (2014 and 2015). Crafton has only finished outside of the top-10 in 11 of his 34 starts at Texas. Since the second race at Texas in 2013, he has placed in the top five eight times.


He led the most laps of his career at Texas in 2016 with 133, a race in which he finished second.


The last time Crafton finished a season without winning a race was in 2012, although there are still 16 races left in the season for him to fight back.


Right now, Crafton sits in sixth place in the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings down 92 points from the standings lead.

OEM Battle

Ford has yet to win a race yet this season. So far, Chevrolet leads with four wins and 263 points and Toyota is behind them with 3 wins and 253 points. Ford has accumulated 228 points, putting the manufacturer in third place.


Heading into Texas Motor Speedway, a Ford has only three victories at the track and the last one was in 2000. Since then, Chevrolet and Toyota have dominated the track.


From 2014 to the first race at Texas in 2016, a Toyota has won five times. The second race at Texas in 2016 was won by a Chevrolet and the same thing happened in 2017.

Texas Motor Speedway Quick Facts

Oval: 1.5 miles

Width: 58 feet (minimum)

Turns: 750-foot radius

Banking: 20 degrees in Turns 1 and 2, 24 degrees in Turns 3 and 4, five degrees in straightaways

Frontstretch: 2,250 feet long

Backstretch: 1,330 feet long

Fastest Race: 158.002 mph/1 hr., 23 mins., 44 sec. – Erik Jones (2015)

Slowest Race: 109.988 mph/2 hr., 20 min., 44 sec. – Ron Hornaday Jr. (2008)

Qualifying Record: 185.134 mph/29.168 sec. – Noah Gragson (2017)

Closest Winning Margin: 0.116 of a second (Tom Bodine over Mike Skinner, 2006)

Largest Winning Margin: 13.302 seconds (Matt Crafton over Justin Lofton, 2014)

Winner’s Best Starting Position: 1st – Jay Sauter (1999), Greg Biffle (2000), Bryan Reffner (2000), Clint Bowyer (2006), Todd Bodine (2007)

Winner’s Furthest Starting Position: 22nd – Todd Bodine (2004)

Most Laps Led by Winner: 140 – Ron Hornaday Jr. (2008)

Most Laps Led by Non-Race Winner: 133 – Matt Crafton (2016)

Fewest Laps Led by Winner: 1 – Todd Bodine (2006)

Youngest Winner: William Byron, 18 years, 6 months, 13 days (2016)

Oldest Winner: Ron Hornaday Jr., 52 years, 11 months, 21 days (2011)

Most Lead Changes: 19 (2011, 2015)

Most Leaders: 11 (2011)

Fewest Lead Changes: 1 (1997)

Fewest Leaders: 2 (1997, 2006)

Most Cautions: 10 (2011, 2017)

Most Caution Laps: 46 (1998, 2011)

Fewest Cautions: 1 (2015)

Fewest Caution Laps: 5 (2015)

Most Cars Finishing on Lead Lap: 24 (2005)

Fewest Cars Finishing on Lead Lap: 6 (2000, 2002, 2007)


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