K&N Pro Series News & Notes: Iowa

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — It’s become a tradition. Each summer the NASCAR K&N Pro Series teams from both of its East and West converge upon Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa, and engage in a head-to-head battle. And though separate points will be handed out at the end of the Casey’s General Store 150 presented by Vatterott College on Friday night, make no mistake: this one’s about bragging rights.

There have been a total of 13 previous combination races at Iowa, with at least one race being held at the track each season since 2007, with the first seven overall winners coming from the East. As the two series converge on the biggest stage of the season for K&N Pro Series teams, Justin Haley holds a commanding 40-point lead over Kyle Benjamin in the East standings, while Ryan Partridge nurses a slim three-point cushion over Todd Gilliland in the West.

Since 2012, when Corey LaJoie won at Iowa to lead a charge of East teams sweeping the top eight positions, the West has rebounded in a big way. West teams have won three of the last six combination events at the .875-mile, D-shaped oval, capped by a dominant 2015. Driving for West series staple Bill McAnally Racing, Brandon McReynolds won both of the races at Iowa last season from front row starting positions.

If that wasn’t enough to show the playing field at Iowa has been leveled, the battles behind McReynolds certainly were. Three of the top six finishers in this race a year ago were West drivers, while the previous visit to the track earlier in the season produced three of the top seven at the checkered flag representative of the West.

RACE: Casey’s General Store 150 presented by Vatterott College
PLACE: Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa
DATE: Friday, July 29
TIME: 8 p.m. CT
TV SCHEDULE: NBCSN, Friday, August 5, 2 p.m. ET
TRACK LAYOUT: .875-mile D-shaped oval
2015 WINNER: Brandon McReynolds
2015 POLE WINNER: Brandon McReynolds
EVENT SCHEDULE: Friday, July 29 – Garage opens: 8 a.m.; Practice: 12-1 p.m.; Final Practice: 2-3 p.m.; Driver autograph session: 3:15 p.m.; Qualifying: 5 p.m.; Casey’s General Store 150: 8 p.m.
TRACK CONTACT: Edward Williams, (641) 791-8038, ewilliams@iowaspeedway.com
TWITTER: @IowaSpeedway
EVENT HASHTAG: #Caseys150
NASCAR IMC CONTACT: Brooke Franceschini, (386) 631-6142), bfranceschini@nascar.com.

RACE CENTRAL LIVE: EVENT SCHEDULE & ENTRY LIST

Fast Facts:
The Race:
The Casey’s General Store 150 will be the 10th of 14 races on the 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule and will be the series’ 14th visit to Iowa Speedway. It is also the eighth of 14 races on the 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule and will be the 15th race for the series at Iowa.

The Procedure: The starting field is 36 cars, including provisionals. The first 28 cars will qualify through the two-lap time trial process while the remaining eight spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 150 laps, spanning 131.25 miles, and there will be a five-minute break at or near the conclusion of Lap 75. Note: Each driver will be credited with a finish and points respective to the series they’ve designated.

The Track: This is the 14th combination race for the K&N Pro Series at the 0.875-mile D-shaped oval dating back to May 2007. There has been at least one race held at the track in each season since. Designed by Rusty Wallace, it plays host to NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races annually.

Race Winners: There have been 12 different winners in the 13 combination races held at Iowa, with Brandon McReynolds being the only multi-time winner at the track after sweeping the two races there in 2015. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch won there in 2009, while 2015 Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano won the inaugural event in 2007.

Records: The one-lap series qualifying record at Iowa was established by Kyle Busch on May 17, 2009 at 135.484 mph (23.250 seconds). The 150-lap race record was set by Ben Rhodes on May 17, 2014 at 93.287 mph (1 hour, 24 minutes, 25 seconds).

Casey’s General Store 150 Notes:
Winner, Winner: Many of the drivers who have won in K&N Pro Series competition at Iowa Speedway have gone on to find success in NASCAR national series rides. 2015 Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano won the inaugural K&N Pro Series event at Iowa in 2007, followed by Brian Ickler and Kyle Busch in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Chase Elliott’s first career NASCAR win came at Iowa in 2012, and current NASCAR Xfinity Series competitor Brandon Jones won at the track in 2014. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers Ben Rhodes and Cole Custer have also made trips to Victory Lane at Iowa in K&N Pro Series combination races.

Big-Time BMR: It’s been the Bill McAnally Racing show in the K&N Pro Series West this season, with BMR teams scoring wins in five of the first seven races of the year. Todd Gilliland picked up his third win of the season in the most recent event at Stateline Speedway in Idaho, while defending series champion Chris Eggleston won back-to-back races at California’s Orange Show Speedway and Colorado National Speedway. Yet, even with all the trips to Victory Lane, BMR teams are still chasing Bruncati Racing driver Ryan Partridge, who leads Gilliland by three points heading to Iowa.

Finchum Returns: Chad Finchum is set for his third K&N Pro Series East appearance of the season this weekend at Iowa. Finchum’s first start of the season with the Eric McClure-owned No. 33 team was a dominant one, as Finchum led 112 laps en route to winning the PittLite 125 Bristol Motor Speedway in April. The Knoxville, Tennessee, driver also competed at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Gragson Heads West: Noah Gragson, runner-up for the K&N Pro Series West championship in 2015, has declared for the West this week at Iowa. The Las Vegas, Nevada, driver has competed full-time in the East this season, scoring his first win at Stafford, Connecticut, in June. Gragson has run every race in both the East and West divisions thus far in 2016 — all for team owner Jerry Pitts — and he currently sits third in the East standings and fourth in the West standings.

Little Set To Compete: Jesse Little, the second-generation driver out of Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, will attempt his third start of the season at Iowa. Little, who competed at Mobile and Loudon this season, was credited with the East win in this race a year ago after finishing second to Brandon McReynolds while driving a Hattori Racing Enterprises entry.

Feels Like The First Time: Through the first nine races of the season, there have been eight different NASCAR K&N Pro Series East winners — including seven first-time winners. Noah Gragson became the seventh first-time winner added to the list when he won the Stafford 150 at Stafford Motor Speedway in June. Gragson used a bold three-wide move on a green-white-checkered restart to claim his first career win in his 19th career start.

NASCAR Home Tracks: Companion event at Iowa Speedway
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series joins the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Iowa Speedway this weekend. The U.S. Cellular 250 is scheduled for Saturday night