NASCAR National Series: Sonoma and Iowa, June 23-25

NASCAR National Series: Sonoma and Iowa, June 23-25
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Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, races AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Ralph’s/Kingsford Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 26, 2016 in Sonoma, California. (\Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

June 21, 2017

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Toyota/Save Mart 350
The Place: Sonoma Raceway
The Date: Sunday, June 25
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: American Ethanol E15 250 presented by Enogen
The Place: Iowa Speedway
The Date: Saturday, June 24
The Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 8 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)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: M&M’s 200 presented by Casey’s General Store
The Place: Iowa Speedway
The Date: Friday, June 23
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)


Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Larson Wins Second Race Of Season, Takes Back Points Lead
Kyle Larson led a race-high 96 laps on his way to his second win of the season in last Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway. In the process, he passed Martin Truex Jr. for the points lead and now holds a five-marker advantage over him.

The Elk Grove, California, native will look to build up his points edge when he returns to his home track – Sonoma Raceway – for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 (3 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). In three career starts at Sonoma, Larson has finished 12th (2016), 15th (2015) and 28th (2014).

Larson is enjoying a breakout season in his fourth full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series campaign. The 24-year-old Chevrolet driver boasts seven top-two finishes in 15 starts this year.

Stage Master: Truex Continues To Pick Up Playoff Points
It’s doubtful anyone enjoys stage racing more than Martin Truex Jr. The No. 78 Furniture Row Racing driver won the first two stages at Michigan to up his stage victories total to a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series-leading 10. He now has a series-high 20 playoff points via his two checkered flags and 10 stage wins.

Truex ended up finishing sixth at Michigan, but picked up the second-most points (51) during the race. Despite his strong effort, he dropped to second in the standings where he trails Kyle Larson by five points.

Truex will attempt to take back his perch atop the standings in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway – a track where he won in 2013.

He leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in an abundance of statistical categories, including: average running position (7.1), driver rating (113.9), fastest laps run (525), and laps led (938).

Elliott Eyes First Win
Chase Elliott is still searching for his first career win, but has started to heat up as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season nears its midpoint.

Elliott has logged finishes of fifth (Dover), eighth (Pocono) and second (Michigan) in his last three starts. He now sits fifth in the standings – 162 points behind leader Kyle Larson.

In his two road course races as a Sunoco Rookie last year, Elliott placed 21st at Sonoma and 13th at Watkins Glen.

Road Course Ace Allmendinger Revved Up For Sonoma
JTG-Daugherty Racing’s AJ Allmendinger is always a threat to win at NASCAR’s road courses.

In 2014, he visited Victory Lane at Watkins Glen to make the playoffs.

The last three years, he’s started in the top-two at Sonoma, but self-inflicted mistakes – such as the tire he lost on pit road last year – have hurt his results. He’s finished 14th (2016), 37th (2015) and 37th (2014). Allmendinger’s 56 laps led in those three races are the most in the series.

“Sonoma is a real technical racetrack,” Allmendinger said. “It’s like a short track. You are beating and banging on each other. You can make passes there. The tires go away quick, but if you can conserve the tires better you can make passes. It’s a challenging racetrack.

“The strategy has got you wondering when that last yellow is going to fall. If that yellow falls, do you pit, do you not pit? It’s a challenge from start to finish because the opportunity is there to make a lot of mistakes and slide off the racetrack or to run into each other, which makes for great racing. In the end, I think it puts on one of the best races.”

Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, and AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Ralph’s/Kingsford Chevrolet, lead the field to the green flag during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 26, 2016 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Blaine Ohigashi/Getty Images)

Parity At Sonoma
Eight different drivers have won the last eight races at Sonoma: Tony Stewart (2016), Kyle Busch (2015), Carl Edwards (2014), Martin Truex Jr. (2013), Clint Bowyer (2012), Kurt Busch (2011), Jimmie Johnson (2010), Kasey Kahne (2009).

In the last 12 years, Sonoma has had 10 different winners.

Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Truex, Bowyer, Johnson and Kahne are the only active drivers with wins at the Northern California road course. Kyle Busch is the only active driver to visit Victory Lane at Sonoma twice.

Hamlin Tops At Road Courses In 2016
Denny Hamlin was the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ top driver at road courses in 2016. The No. 11 Toyota driver won at Watkins Glen for his first career road course victory. Before that, he placed runner-up at Sonoma after leading a race-high 33 laps and getting passed by Tony Stewart on the final turn.

Hamlin’s road course win cemented his position as one of NASCAR’s most versatile drivers. He has won at least one race at a superspeedway, an intermediate track, a short track, a road course, a restrictor-plate track and three-turn Pocono Raceway.

Golden State Warriors
More active Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers hail from California than any other state. The drivers from the Golden State entered in Sunday’s race include: Kevin Harvick (Bakersfield), Matt DiBenedetto (Grass Valley), Kyle Larson (Elk Grove), Jimmie Johnson (El Cajon), AJ Allmendinger (Los Gatos), Cole Whitt (Alpine) and Tommy Regan (Tracy).

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.
America’s Top Movie Cars 3 Will Be On Center Stage: Last weekend’s top-rated movie at the box office, “Cars 3,” will be on center stage for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma raceway. Comedian and actress Cristela Alonzo, the voice of Cruz Ramirez in “Cars 3,” has been named Grand Marshal of the Toyota/Save Mart 350. Disney•Pixar’s John Lasseter will serve as the official pace car driver.


NASCAR XFINITY Series

Veteran Elliott Sadler To Make 800th NASCAR National Series Start
Current NASCAR XFINITY Series points leader, and JR Motorsports driver, Elliott Sadler will be making his 800th NASCAR national series start (437 MENCS, 342 NXS, 20 NCWTS) this weekend at Iowa Speedway. Sadler will become the 25th driver in NASCAR national series history to make 800 or more starts.

Sadler made his very first NASCAR national series start in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at South Boston Speedway on July 7, 1995, for car owner Bell Sadler (his mother). At the ripe age of 20, Sadler wheeled his first ever car to a 15th-place start and an eighth-place finish and hasn’t looked back since.

The veteran from Emporia, Virginia, made his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 1998, for car owner Gary Bechtel. His first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race came on September 7, 2000, at Richmond International Raceway for truck owner Robert Long.

Sadler is one of just 29 drivers in NASCAR history to win in all three of NASCAR’s national series. He has 17 NASCAR national series combined wins in his 799 starts (three in the MENCS, 13 in the NXS and one in the NCWTS).

Sadler has made 12 NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at Iowa, posting three poles, one win (2012), seven top fives, 12 top 10s and an impressive average finish of 5.2.

Sunoco Rookie Spotlight: Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer is looking to earn his fifth consecutive top-10 finish of the season this weekend in the American Ethanol E15 250 at Iowa Speedway (8:30 p.m. on FS1). He comes into Iowa fresh off a 10th-place finish last Saturday at Michigan International Speedway. Custer is third in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, 20 points behind leader William Byron and one point behind second-place Daniel Hemric.

“We’ve been on a pretty good roll for a few weeks now, and hopefully we can keep our consistency going,” said Custer.

While the American Ethanol E15 250 will be Custer’s first NASCAR XFINITY Series start at Iowa Speedway, it will be his eighth overall start at the .875-mile oval. Custer has three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts and four NASCAR K&N Pro Series starts at Iowa.

Custer’s best NASCAR Camping World Truck Series finish at Iowa is second, earned in 2016. Custer finished .431 behind race-winner William Byron, who he’s now competing against for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.

But Custer’s success at Iowa didn’t start in the trucks. Custer scored his first career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory on August 2, 2013, at Iowa from the pole. He took home the checkered at the age of 15 years, 6 months and 10 days, becoming the youngest winner in Pro Series history. In addition to breaking Dylan Kwasniewski’s record for youngest race winner, Custer also became the first driver to lead all 150 laps in the event.

“I guess it’s (Iowa) just a place that’s natural for me and I’ve always had fast cars there,” said Custer. “I grew up running local short tracks, so I was able to familiarize myself with them more than others.”

Sam Hornish Jr. Returns To Iowa With A Different Team But Wants Same Result
Sam Hornish Jr. won last season’s Iowa Speedway race driving the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. But this season the veteran wheelman from Defiance, Ohio, returns behind the wheel of a different team as he rides with Team Penske and the current owner points leading No. 22 Ford team to defend his series win.

The American Ethanol E15 250 at Iowa Speedway (8:30 p.m. on FS1) will be Hornish’s series season debut.

Despite perceived rust from not racing this season, expect Hornish to do well this weekend. In nine series starts at Iowa, he has posted two wins (2014, 2016), six top fives, seven top 10s and an average finish of 6.3.

Here are a few stats worth noting about the No. 22 car, currently in the NASCAR XFINITY Series owner standings lead by a mountain-sized margin of 106 points:

· The No. 22 car has the third-most wins on the all-time NASCAR XFINITY Series wins list with 51 victories; behind the No. 60 (94 wins) and the No. 18 (62 wins).
· Seven drivers have contributed to the No. 22 car’s win total over the years – Brad Keselowski (28 wins), Rick Mast (nine), Joey Logano (six), Ryan Blaney (four), AJ Allmendinger (two), Bobby Allison and Kurt Busch (each have one).
· Since the beginning of the 2012 season (last five seasons), no other car number has won more races than the No. 22 team with 29 checkered flags; followed by the No. 54 with 28 wins and the No. 18 with 22 wins during that same timeframe.

Halfway Point In The Regular Season: 2017 Has Delivered
At this point in the season it’s always fun to look at how the competition has fared thus far compared to years past. Below are some stats showcasing the great action we have seen on track in 2017 through the first 13 races:

· The 2017 season has had 10 different winners; which is the most since 2006, the last season to see 10 different winners through the first 13 races.
· Since the inception of electronic scoring (1996) in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, the 2017 season has had the closest average margin of victory at 0.445 second through the first 13 races of the season. The second-closest average margin of victory through the first 13 races was in 2009 at 0.577 second.
· A large part of the closest margin of victory record is due to the series having the most races (11) since the inception of electronic scoring (1996) with a margin of victory less than a second. The previous record was 10 races with MOVs of less than a second back in 2000 and 1996.
· The first 13 races of the season have had an average number of leaders per race of 6.38; which is the most since 2013 when the average number of leaders was 8.0.
· This season has also had an average of 13 lead changes per race; which is the most since 2013, a season that had an average of 15 per race through the first 13 races.

Blast From The Past For Regan Smith In The Booth
Regan Smith will make his television booth debut Saturday for FS1’s live coverage of the NASCAR XFINTIY Series race at Iowa Speedway, and will have a familiar voice in his ear to guide him through his rookie telecast. Mark Smith (no relation), FOX Sports’ NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES race producer, will hang around Iowa Speedway an extra day this weekend to produce the NASCAR XFINITY SERIES race.

The two, friends for 29 years, grew up in neighboring small towns in upstate New York, initially meeting when Regan’s family began frequenting Happy Days, a drive-through restaurant owned and operated by Mark’s family in Cato. Regan’s family, hailing from Cato, made a tradition of celebrating their special occasions at Happy Days, beginning when Regan was four years old.

NASCAR XFINITY Series Etc.:
Familiar Faces Back In The NASCAR XFINITY Series Garage: Several familiar drivers will be returning to the series this weekend, such as NASCAR Camping World Truck Series star Christopher Bell, who will be piloting the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Bell will be making his second series start for JGR this weekend. His series debut came at Charlotte earlier this season where he finished in the top-five. But that is not the only new face in the JGR stable, Kyle Benjamin will also be back for Joe Gibbs Racing this weekend. Benjamin will be strapped into the No. 18 JGR Toyota, the car that won this race last season with driver Sam Hornish Jr. behind the wheel. … Bill France Jr.’s grandson, driver Ben Kennedy, who is sharing a limited schedule with GMS Racing and Richard Childress Racing, will be back in the No. 2 RCR Chevrolet on Saturday. Kennedy’s last start with RCR yielded a top-five finish earlier this season at Talladega. Kennedy has one series start at Iowa, last season for RCR, in which he started sixth and finished 10th. … Tyler Reddick will be back in the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet this weekend at Iowa. Reddick has a lot of pressure to perform in the No. 42 this season, as his teammate Kyle Larson has won three times already in 2017.


NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Nemechek Scores First Win Of 2017 At Gateway
John Hunter Nemechek won his fourth career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and first this season at Gateway Motorsports Park last Saturday.

Nemechek had a strong race, leading all 35 laps of the first stage of the race, and passing two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton late in the race for the win.

With the victory, Nemechek broke a seven-race streak of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races won by either GMS Racing or Kyle Busch Motorsports this season.

Nemechek also earned a spot in the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs thanks to his win, joining current points leader Johnny Sauter, two-time winner this season Christopher Bell and Sunoco Rookie Kaz Grala, who have all won this season.

Nemechek’s win at Gateway Motorsports Park put him in elite company. His win on Saturday night was the first race he’s won in which his father and team owner, Joe Nemechek, was also a participant. Other sons to win a NASCAR national series race in which their father participated include Richard Petty, Kyle Petty, Davey Allison and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Briscoe Makes It Back-To-Back Runner-Up Finishes
Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender and Brad Keselowski Racing driver Chase Briscoe scored his second top-two finish of the season when he finished second at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Briscoe won his second career Keystone Light Pole earlier in the day, and used that to his advantage as he led a career-high 88 laps in the Drivin’ For Linemen 200 at Gateway. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender also won his first stage of the season as he won Stage 2 – earning his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoff point.

On the season, Briscoe has three top-three finishes, and four top 10s through eight races. He has yet to finish outside the top-25.

Briscoe is currently tied with ThorSport Racing’s Grant Enfinger atop the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings at 104 points apiece.

Earning The Rookie Stripe
There are currently three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders in the top eight in points. If the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs began today, Chase Briscoe (fourth in points), Grant Enfinger (sixth in points) and Kaz Grala (one win, eighth in points) would all be in.

Close behind and on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoff bubble are Sunoco Rookies Noah Gragson (10th in points), Austin Cindric (12th in points), Cody Coughlin (13th in points) and Justin Haley (14th in points).

As for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, the race is tight. Brad Keselowski Racing driver Chase Briscoe and ThorSport Racing’s Grant Enfinger are tied at 104 points each. Kaz Grala (-16), Noah Gragson (-21) and Austin Cindric (-46) round out the top five.

Iowa Speedway Quick Facts
As the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Iowa Speedway for the M&M’s 200 Friday, June 23 (8:30 p.m. ET on FS1. MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), below are some series quick facts:

Races: 10
Pole Winners: 10
Youngest Pole Winner: John Hunter Nemechek (06/18/2016 – 19 years, 0 months, 7 days)
Oldest Pole Winner: Mike Skinner (09/05/2009 – 52 years, 2 months, 8 days)
Race Winners: 8
Youngest Winner: Erik Jones (07/11/2014 – 18 years, 1 months, 11 days)
Oldest Winner: Mike Skinner (09/05/2009 – 52 years, 2 months 8 days)
Races Won From Pole (or 1st Starting Position): 4
Last Race Won from Pole (or 1st Starting Position): Erik Jones (06/19/2015)
Race Record: Erik Jones – 110.429 mph (07/11/2014)
Qualifying Record: German Quiroga Jr. – 138.62 mph (07/13/2013)

Beginners Luck In The Truck
In the last two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Iowa Speedway, the winners have both been Sunoco Rookies.

Those two rookies would also go on to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in their respective rookie seasons.

Last season, William Byron drove the No. 9 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra to Victory Lane at Iowa Speedway. Byron went on to become the 2016 Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

In 2015, another Kyle Busch Motorsports driver, Erik Jones, won at Iowa Speedway in the No. 4 Toyota Tundra. Jones was the 2015 Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and also won the series championship that same season.

There are nine Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders making their track debut at Iowa Speedway in Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series M&M’s 200. They include: Chase Briscoe, Wendell Chavous, Austin Cindric, Cody Coughlin, Grant Enfinger, Stewart Friesen, Noah Gragson, Kaz Grala and Justin Haley.

Two current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers won their first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career race at Iowa Speedway; Ryan Blaney won in 2012, while Austin Dillon won in 2010.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Etc.:
Four-Wide Salute At Gateway: To kick off the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Gateway Motorsports Park, the field went four-wide during the pace laps to recognized the 100th anniversary of Scott Air Force Base. Click here to view video of the moment.

Gilliland’s Gateway Run Ends Early: In his second career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start, NASCAR Next driver Todd Gilliland’s night ended early due to a transmission issue. Gilliland has had poor luck in his first two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts as he had a suspension problem after contact at Dover.

Burton Back For KBM At Iowa: NASCAR Next driver Harrison Burton will be back in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this week at Iowa, running in the No. 51 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Burton has two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts this season – finishing 13th at Martinsville and 13th at Dover.

Pair Of NASCAR XFINITY Series Drivers Camping At Iowa: NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers Ross Chastain and Brandon Jones will both be running in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this weekend at Iowa. Chastain will be driving the No. 66 Bolen Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado, while Jones will be running in the No. 99 Matthew Miller Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado.

Owner Standings Update: GMS Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet Silverado remains in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner standings lead through eight races. Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 4 Toyota Tundra (-38), ThorSport Racing’s No. 88 Toyota Tundra (-62), Brad Keselowski Racing’s Ford F-150 (-69) and ThorSport Racing’s No. 27 Toyota Tundra (-99) round out the top five in the owner standings.

Manufacturer Standings Update: Toyota Racing leads Chevrolet in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Manufacturer Standings by a single point, 296-295 through five races. Both manufactures have four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins each this season. Ford remains in third place with 245 points.

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