NNS: Iowa Speedway presents new challenges to drivers

Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images

NEWTON, IA–Most weeks, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series race side by side at the same track. However this week is different. Instead of racing and being able to share notes and/ or get help from the cup teams, the NASCAR Nationwide Series teams are on their own.

This marks the first of just five times that the Nationwide series drivers will race by themselves this year.

Even though the cars are different and the two series race differently from week to week, being able to have support from the cup teams could make a big difference.

Last year, in the two stand alone Nationwide events at Iowa Speedway the Nationwide regulars dominated the two events with Stenhouse sweeping the races and only a handful of the cup regulars that made the trip to Iowa would finish in the top-10.

Besides the fact that there are less cup drivers there to spoil the show for the regulars, the challenges for the Nationwide drivers are still pretty strong. First there is the local talent that comes out to make the show.

This week, there will be two hometown kids that will be trying to get his first win–something that only Stenhouse Jr. has done at Iowa–in front of his hometown fans and friends.

Michael Annett is one of those kids and he grew up 30 miles west of Iowa Speedway in Des Moines, Iowa.

Annett who is driving for Richard Petty Motorsports this year has had a solid start to the season with a top-10 points position and strong runs throughout the first half of the season.

The other kid is Joey Gase who hails from a suburb of Des Moines. Gase is running with limited funding this year, which is his rookie season in the Nationwide series, but a strong run in front of a home town crowd could go a long way.

Racing in front of a hometown crowd can put pressure on a driver, to try and get the win or the best finish they can to impress their family and friends that made the short trip is one of the racer’s goals.

The second new challenge that will be presented as the Nationwide and and Sprint Cup series split, will be the fact that rookies appear in these races.

In the Nationwide series this week, Darrell Wallace Jr. will be making his Nationwide series debut. It’s no question that Wallace has talent, or else he wouldn’t be able to get a ride with Joe Gibbs racing, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is still a rookie driving a car that he has 63 laps of experience in.

Wallace, like other rookies that have come up from the lower series, is used to driving the K&N Series cars. The K&N cars still use the old style cars that have becomeĀ obsoleteĀ in the higher series.

Experience will be key and that is something that all the drivers that will be making their first career Nationwide-or first career Nationwide at Iowa race will have. All of the rookies that are racing in the Nationwide series race will be–or are at least entered–in the K&N series race that will take place Saturday night, before the Nationwide series races on Sunday.

 

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