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Iowa NNS Preview: Can Sadler Win Two-In-A-Row?

Iowa NNS Preview: Can Sadler Win Two-In-A-Row?

by May 18, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

NEWTON, Iowa. — The NASCAR Nationwide Series makes its first trip of the season to the Iowa Speedway this Sunday for the Get To Know Newton 250, a 250-lap race.

Most of the Sprint Cup drivers who have become so familiar to the series this year (Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick) have the weekend off from the Nationwide Series after participating in the All-Star events down in Charlotte. With their absence, drivers such as Ryan Blaney (Team Penske), Sam Hornish Jr. (Joe Gibbs Racing), Chase Pistone (Turner Scott Motorsports), and Austin Theriault (JR Motorsports) have a great opportunity to prove what they are capable of this weekend.

With a lack of Sprint Cup drivers and with new blood of sorts stepping into the Nationwide Series this week, the series regulars may have the best shot of getting to victory lane on Sunday.

Elliott Sadler (Joe Gibbs Racing) is two weeks removed from earning his first win of the season at Talladega Superspeedway and heads to a track that he previously won at in 2012. Sadler has placed in the top-five in five of six of his starts at Iowa and has an average finish of 3.7 at the track – a figure that leads all drivers entered for the race. The driver of the No. 11 OneMain Financial Camry has not solely led the Nationwide Series Drivers’ Standings since October 2012 and is in a prime position to take the series’ lead with a strong finish at Iowa. Sadler is currently one point out of the lead behind Chase Elliott (JR Motorsports.)

The 18-year-old Elliott has never ran at this track in a Nationwide Series car before but has two previous starts here in the Camping World Truck Series – Elliott finished fifth in his first race here last year but crashed out in his second. Elliott and his No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro have proven to be fast all weekend after posting the quickest lap time in two of four practice sessions held for the race on Friday and Saturday. The current points leader has finished in the top-10 at both short track races that have been held thus far this year and is looking to have a great chance to grab his third short track top-10 after the conclusion of Sunday’s race.

Elliott’s JR Motorsports teammate, Regan Smith, is a consistent performer at Iowa – having finished no lower than 11th in both of his races at the track last season. Statistically, Iowa has proven to be one of Smith’s stronger race tracks on the Nationwide Series circuit; a fact that should have the No. 7 TaxSlayer team feeling confident heading into Sunday’s race. Smith is the only driver in the field to have finished in the top-10 in every race of this season, his current wave of momentum coupled with an excellent history at this circuit could provide Smith with his second win of the season.

After a fifth-place run at Talladega, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Hornish is looking to improve on his debut run of the season at a track that he has finished no worse than fourth at in his three previous starts. The former Verizon IndyCar champion is looking to make a statement in Iowa to the NASCAR world that he is still a force to be reckoned with with another strong run. With his second-place qualifying effort, he is in a great position to make a strong run on Sunday.

To get to victory lane however, Hornish will not have to go through his teammate Sadler, but his other teammate Michael McDowell as well. McDowell, like his fellow JGR drivers, has a strong record at Iowa with five top-10 finishes in six career starts at the track. The driver of the No. 20 Pizza Ranch Camry will be making his fifth start at the track for Joe Gibbs Racing and his first since 2012. The Phoenix, Arizona native has always been a consistent performer at the .875-mile short track having never finished below the 13th position in all of his starts.

The driver who will lead the field to green for the Get To Know Newton 250, Blaney, has a consistent history at the track with two career starts at the circuit. Although he has never finished in the top-five in either of his past starts, Blaney has turned in solid ninth and 10th-place finishes in both 2012 and 2013.

Television coverage for the Get To Know Newton 250 will kick off on ESPN at 1:30 p.m ET. Radio coverage for the race will be provided by the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SiriusXM Satellite NASCAR Channel 90.

If you’re unable to keep up with the race by both of those media outlets, you can receive live updates of the race by following the following accounts on Twitter tomorrow afternoon – @TheFourthTurn, @HunterThomas08, and @KPokrefky.

 

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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