NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Preview- Iowa

Continuing their exciting run through the summer stretch and the run to the Playoffs, the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series stays in the Midwest as they head to Iowa Speedway for a rare Saturday night race.

Currently, there are 33 drivers on the preliminary entry list. There were 34 but the No. 32 of Daniel Sasnett for Reaume Racing withdrew from the event.

Iowa Speedway located in Newton, Iowa, is still relatively new to the Truck Series. The series first came to the track in 2009 and has hosted 12 races since then.

The speedway will host the second round of The Triple Truck Challenge. Greg Biffle won last weekend earning himself $50,000. However, despite a valiant effort, Biffle will not be competing this weekend to continue his run toward the money as he missed the entry deadline date. Also, Kyle Busch Motorsports already has four trucks entered and it would be tough to add a fifth truck to the field.

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With that said, here are five drivers to keep an eye on in Saturday’s M&M’s 200.

  1. Matt Crafton – After having a strong run in last week’s race at Texas, finishing second to Biffle, Crafton looks to carry that momentum forward in hopes of finally snapping his two-year winless streak dating back to Eldora of 2017. Iowa could be the place to do it. The No. 88 driver has 12 starts at the Newton facility earning one win in 2011. Other career stats include five top fives and 10 top-10 finishes, 109 laps led, two DNFs and 96.6% laps completed. Up until the 2017 race, Crafton finished inside the top-10 in every race. The last two years, however, he’s had disappointing finishes, crashing out in two consecutive races that left him with finishes of 19th and 26th. Before wrecking out last year, Crafton finished second in Stage 1 and 10th in Stage 2. Keep an eye on the No. 88 ThorSport Racing team as they’ll try to break that winless drought.

  2. Brett Moffitt – Moffitt has a perfect track record of a 100% success rate, but that’s because he only has one start at the .875 mile racetrack in Iowa. His win came last year in exciting fashion. In a last-ditch effort by now Xfinity Series driver Noah Gragson, made a dive bomb move in Turns 3 and 4 in hopes of making a last lap pass on Moffitt. Gragson’s effort failed as he would take the lead for a split second, but he wound up hitting the wall and Moffitt went by him with a margin of victory by .333 seconds. This year, however, has been a bit of a challenge for the 2018 Truck Series champion who drives the No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet. He still has no wins but has four top fives and five top-10 finishes with one pole. Iowa could be the place where a winning streak could start up again. After all, it is his hometown racetrack as Moffitt is from Grimes, Iowa, just 48 minutes east of the track.

  3. Stewart Friesen – Friesen, driver of the No. 52 for Halmar Racing, is hoping to get the monkey off his back, especially after crashing last week. He has one start which came last year with a ninth-place finish after leading 48 laps. Friesen finished fourth in Stage 1 and won Stage 2. Friesen is looking to finally get that win that has eluded him for so long.

  4. Johnny Sauter – When looking at statistics, race fans may be surprised when they see Sauter does not have any wins at Iowa. Like Crafton, he has made every start since the track held its first Truck Series race back in 2009. Over the 12 races at Iowa, Sauter has eight top fives and nine top-10 finishes with 110 laps led and an average finish of 7.2. In the last two races, he has finishes of fifth and second. His best finish with ThorSport racing is second back in 2010, nine years ago. It will be interesting to see if Sauter and the No. 13 team can finally get a win and cross Iowa Speedway off the win checklist.

  5. Ross Chastain – Chastain continues his fight to make the Playoffs this week at Iowa. He has five starts with only one top-five finish back in 2013 driving for Brad Keselowski after starting on the pole and leading 116 laps. His other finishes include a finish of 16th in 2012, 11th in the fall race of 2012 and 13th in 2013 before he finished second later in the year and 30th last year. But, Chastain is with Niece Motorsports and has finished inside the top-10 in every Truck Series race this season including a win at Kansas last month. Chastain’s playoff run will be an interesting story to watch throughout the summer.

There are some different names on the entry list this week. Juan Manuel Gonzalez returns to Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing to drive the No. 10. Gonzalez has no Truck starts as he attempted the Martinsville race with the same team but failed to qualify. Raphael Lessard also returns to the series to pilot the No. 17 DGR-Crosley Toyota. C.J. McLaughlin will be in the No. 33 for Reaume Racing and Mason Massey will attempt to make his first NASCAR debut. Chad Finley is back racing for his family-owned team in the No. 42. Future upcoming star Chandler Smith will be making his NASCAR debut for Kyle Busch Motorsports driving the famed No. 51. Tyler Hill returns in the No. 56 for Hill Motorsports. Lou Goss will try to make his first NASCAR attempt in the No. 74 and team owner Josh Reaume will pilot the No. 87 Nemco Motorsports Chevrolet.

With the Truck Series having a span of 12 races at Iowa dating back to 2009, the winner’s list includes Mike Skinner, Austin Dillon, Matt Crafton, Timothy Peters, Ryan Blaney, James Buescher, Erik Jones, William Byron, John Hunter Nemechek and Brett Moffit.

Qualifying is important at Iowa with most of the winners coming from the top 10 starting positions. Only two winners have started outside the top 10, Matt Crafton who started 11th in 2011, and Moffitt who started 16th in last year’s race.

Only two drivers have won twice at the track. Timothy Peters did it in 2012 and 2013. Erik Jones is the only driver that has won two consecutive races, in 2014 and 2015.

The race winner has come from the pole four times, in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2015.

The Truck Series will hit the track Saturday morning for the first practice at 9:30 a.m. ET. The final practice is set for 11:30 a.m. ET. Qualifying is slated for 5:35 p.m. ET live on Fox Sports 2.

The M&M’s 200 race is scheduled to start shortly after 8:30 p.m. ET live on Fox Sports 1 and MRN Radio. It will consist of three stages that will be broken into 60/120/200 laps to make up the 175-mile race distance.

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