BRIAN ICKLER Iowa Caucus MOORESVILLE, N.C. (July 7, 2010) -- During the primary season of a Presidential election, the state of Iowa is known as the place where candidates begin the long and grueling campaign toward a possible spot in the White...
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (July 7, 2010) -- During the primary season of a Presidential election, the state of Iowa is known as the place where candidates begin the long and grueling campaign toward a possible spot in the White House.
A good showing in the Iowa Caucus can propel a candidate to success in other primaries or caucuses in other states and ultimately help him or her win the party nomination for the general election.
There will be no campaigning in the Hawkeye State, though, just plenty of racing as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Iowa Speedway in Newton for Sunday's Lucas Oil 200 presented by SPEED on Mediacom.
And, like election season, Iowa will kick off a long and grueling stretch where momentum is critical to victory. For after only nine races in the first six months of 2010 with no more than two consecutive events, the Camping World Truck Series is scheduled to conduct nine races in the next nine weeks.
So a good performance in Iowa can help propel a team to success throughout the summer season and ultimately help in the championship quest.
Brian Ickler, driver of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM), will look to continue the championship "campaign," at Iowa and the following week at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill.
The 24-year-old San Diego native has twice driven for Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2010, finishing third in March at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and backing that up with a fourth-place finish in May at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Those two results, coupled with the efforts of KBM teammate Johnny Benson and the team's driver-owner, Kyle Busch, have put the No. 18 Toyota firmly in second-place in the Truck Series owner standings, just 22 markers behind the No. 30 truck of Germain Racing.
Ickler's two top-five results didn't just help the championship cause for KBM, it benefited the up-and-coming driver as he began attracting the attention of other race teams.
Roush Fenway Racing offered Ickler a part-time schedule in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for the remainder of 2010, which not only allowed him to step up to the NASCAR's second-tier series, but also remain with KBM for his part-time schedule in the No. 18 Toyota. Ickler has made the most of his seat time at Roush, having scored three top-15 finishes in four races, including a ninth-place effort last week at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
And while Ickler's racing resume is still in the building stages with only seven starts in the Nationwide Series, 13 in the Truck Series and seven in ARCA competition, he heads to Iowa with plenty of experience at the .875-mile oval. Ickler has seven starts in five different racing series at Iowa, including a win in the U.S. Cellular 200 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event last August. In Nationwide Series, Truck Series, ARCA and Pro Series competition at Iowa, Ickler has started lower than eighth only once in seven starts and has four top-10 finishes.
So while there will be no campaigning at the Iowa State Fair or speeches given at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner or Lincoln Day Dinner, Ickler and the rest of KBM know that a good showing in Iowa can lead to a lot of success down the road.
Brian Ickler, Driver, No. 18 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
You competed in five races in five different divisions in 2009 at Iowa Speedway. Because of that, do you feel more comfortable there than perhaps any other track on the circuit?
"I definitely am. I think the biggest thing I've been lacking this year and last year has been seat time, and I definitely have quite a bit at Iowa. I'm looking forward to going back there."
Talk about your win in the 2008 NASCAR East Series race at Iowa. What do you remember about that day?
"We were free all day. We weren't super-fast in practice, but we just kind of knew what we needed. We went there and tested, which really helped us, and we had a really good car all day long. I think winning that day has really helped me a lot, running at Iowa in the cars and trucks."
Because you have a win at Iowa, does it give you more confidence going back there?
"Definitely. As soon as we unload the truck off the hauler, you know exactly what line you need to run and how you need to run it and what it takes to run well there. Winning at Iowa has definitely helped me when I've gone back to the track, and I think it will help me with the KBM crew this weekend."
You are splitting time between the Nationwide Series with Roush Fenway Racing and the Truck Series with KBM. Are you excited with how your summer has panned out, driving for two of the top teams in each series?
"I'm really happy to be getting to run in both series and to get the extra seat time. In the truck, we have run exceptionally well. We have run it twice, and we have finished in the top-five both times. We've struggled a little bit on the Nationwide side, but I haven't driven these cars a whole lot. The more I run over here, the more comfortable I feel."
The No. 18 Toyota is competing for the owner title in the Truck Series. How much pressure do you feel to help keep the No. 18 truck near the top of the standings?
"It's kind of the same situation from last year that I had with Kyle and Billy Ballew Motorsports. He'd win four in a row, and then I would get in and expect to run well. There's definitely pressure there, but I feel confident in Eric Phillips (crew chief), Rick Ren (director of competition) and all the guys over at KBM. I know it's a really good truck, and I love driving in the Truck Series."
Eric Phillips, Crew Chief, No. 18 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
After not racing more than two consecutive weekends, the Camping World Truck Series schedule has nine consecutive races without a break. Is it almost like a new season?
"I don't know if I'd say it's a new season. As a race team, I'd say we're excited for it because I feel like we are really well-prepared. We'll be running six different race trucks in the first six races, so that helps a lot. We've prepared well and I think we're ready for the long stretch."
Given how the schedule is almost nonstop for the next two months, is it a different mindset for your team than the early part of the schedule with a lot of breaks?
"We've run really well in the early part of the schedule, so when you're running well, you want to race every week to build on that momentum. Having the last three weeks off put us in a little bit of a lull but, since we are still a new team with new people, it gave us a chance to get caught up on everything and regroup on some things we felt like we needed to do to get ready for this stretch."
Brian Ickler's Toyota Tundra: Chassis No. KBM-005: This is a new truck that has not been used before.