* Kasey Kahne Heads To Heartland * Holmes Leaves Thunderhill On A Roll * East Drivers Get Strong Start At Greenville-Pickens * Look Back: Logano Outsprints Harvick A FULL HOUSE Fifty-five cars are already entered to...
* Kasey Kahne Heads To Heartland
* Holmes Leaves Thunderhill On A Roll
* East Drivers Get Strong Start At Greenville-Pickens
* Look Back: Logano Outsprints Harvick
A FULL HOUSE
Fifty-five cars are already entered to race at Iowa Speedway
Dale Earnhardt Inc. was the first to sign up, with three cars. And the entries kept flooding in. The entry list currently stands at 55 cars that will attempt to qualify for the US Cellular 200 at Iowa Speedway Sunday, May 18.
That matches last year's total with over a week- and-a-half remaining for the roster to grow even larger. The race -- which pits the drivers of the NASCAR Camping World Series East and NASCAR Camping World West in their only combination race with points at stake -- has drawn a bumper crop of short-track racers.
"It's huge," said Craig Armstrong, vice president/general manager of Iowa Speedway. "We're thrilled to be able to put this event on. It's a spectacular event. We're particularly thrilled with the depth and breadth of the field. Not only is it going to be a record car count, but it is absolutely packed with star power. It's got some of the biggest names in short-track racing and some of the young up-and-comers that are going to be big names."
Forty-four cars will make up the starting field for Sunday's race (5:15 p.m. ET/HDNet).
Among the highlights:
Mike David (No. 2 Bennett Lane Winery Toyota) and Eric Holmes (No. 20 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota) bring their NASCAR Camping World Series West points battle to the Heartland for the fourth race of the season. Holmes, the 2006 champion, holds the advantage over defending series champion David in wins (2-to-1) but trails by 17 points in the standings. Former NASCAR Elite Division champion Jeff Jefferson (No. 42 MJ2 Racing/Grand Prix Imports Ford) and Holmes' Bill McAnally Racing teammates Austin Cameron (No. 18 NAPA Auto Care Toyota) and Moses Smith (No. 16 Hasa Pool Products Toyota) are all right behind the leaders.
Eighteen-year-old Austin Dillon (No. 3 Garage Equipment Supply Chevrolet) heads to Iowa coming off a win in his NASCAR debut in the first NASCAR Camping World Series East race of the season at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina. Dillon's Andy Santerre Motorsports teammate, Peyton Sellers (No. 44 Specialty Fertilizer Products Chevrolet), qualified fourth at Iowa last year.
Three former NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champions, Virginia's Mark McFarland (2003), California's Greg Pursley (2004) and Virginia's Sellers (2005), are entered.
The field has collected 54 NASCAR Camping World Series wins, led by Cameron with 15 in the West and Matt Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet) with 12 in the East.
Jesus Hernandez (No. 11 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet), who finished third in the inaugural NASCAR race at Iowa last year, is the top returning finisher. He will be joined by his DEI teammates, Trevor Bayne (No. 1 DEI Chevrolet) and Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Foundation Chevrolet).
Kasey Kahne will be driving a car for Dave Davis. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star is slated to run in the Sprint All-Star Challenge in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday night and then fly out to Iowa for Sunday's race.
And while Kevin Harvick won't be making a return trip, his father, Mike, will be crew chief for West Coast veteran driver Terry Henry (No. 19 MMI Services Chevrolet).
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Kyle Busch's team (Kyle Busch Motorsports) is fielding a car for Alex Haase (No. 51 Kyle Busch Foundation/Electric Sunglasses Chevrolet). The 18-year-old Haase, who last year finished second in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings and ninth in the overall championship standings for the NASCAR Camping World Series West, moved from his native Las Vegas and has focused primarily on late model competition this year.
Steve Park (No. 35 Waste Management Recycle Chevrolet) made his return to the NASCAR Camping World Series at Greenville-Pickens. The 40-year-old Park is one of only 18 drivers to win a race in NASCAR's three national series, and has two wins (both in 1996) in the NASCAR Camping World Series East.
Texan James Buescher, 18, finished in the top 10 in all four NASCAR Camping World Series East races he ran last year. Buescher (No. 31 Coca Cola Chevrolet) ran the ARCA race at Iowa in April where engine problems ended his day early.
Motocross great Ricky Carmichael (No. 4 Monster Energy Drink Chevrolet) will make his second NASCAR start. Carmichael was fifth in his debut at Greenville-Pickens.
Four members of the 2008 NASCAR Drive For Diversity program will run: Hernandez, Mike Gallegos, Lloyd Mack and Jonathan Smith. Gallegos (No. 34 RTD Motorsports Chevrolet) is coming off back-to-back top-10 finishes, including a run at Phoenix where he started from the tail end of the field after an engine change prior to the race.
The entry list includes 17 rookies. Last year, two of the top three finishers were rookies (race winner Joey Logano and Hernandez) as well as six of the top 15.
Drivers represent 22 states and three countries (U.S., Mexico and Belgium).
"I think it'll be cool to go back there and race against all the different champions and the different guys that we've raced against out here in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown," Pursley said. "It's a very long list of a lot of guys with a lot of great accomplishments.
"It's one of my big deals to be able to race against these guys. I think the best thing is to be able to compete against guys who have won championships and lots of races and have gone on to run other big series. When you can go out there and beat them, that's a big accomplishment."
More cars are expected to officially submit their entry as the event draws closer.
News & Notes
The race ... The US Cellular 200 is the fourth event on the 2008 schedule for the NASCAR Camping World Series West and the second event for the NASCAR Camping World Series East. It is the only combination points race this season for the NASCAR Camping World Series.
The procedure ... The starting field is 44 cars, including provisionals. The first 38 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining six spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 200 laps (175 miles).
The track ... Iowa Speedway is a 7/8-mile paved oval with compound banking of 12-14 degrees in the corners, 10 degrees in the front stretch and four degrees in the back stretch. The facility, which was designed by former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Rusty Wallace and opened for operation in 2006, is located east of Des Moines in Newton.
The records ... Qualifying: Kevin Harvick, May 20, 2007, 133.775 mph. 23.547 seconds, Race: Joey Logano, May 20, 2007, 80.686 mph, 2 hours 10 minutes 8 seconds.
The Showdown ... The overall winner of the US Cellular 200 will earn a protected spot in the postseason NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown (Jan. 23-24, 2009). Mike David, Eric Holmes and Austin Dillon have already earned spots with their victories this season.
Final notes from Thunder Hill
Two wins in three races ... The victory by Eric Holmes (No. 20 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota) in the Allstate Texas Thunder 150 at Thunder Hill Raceway in Kyle, Texas, on April 19, gave him two wins in the first three races this season. It marked his fourth career victory overall.
Front row for BMR ... Holmes captured his sixth career Coors Light Pole Award at Kyle -- giving Bill McAnally Racing a sweep of the front row, with Austin Cameron (No. 18 NAPA Auto Care Toyota) turning in the second-quickest time.
Nearing the million dollar mark ... With $5,050 for his runner-up finish in Texas, Cameron moved even closer to the million dollar mark in career winnings in the NASCAR Camping World Series West. Cameron is second on the list of career money leaders with $992,716, behind Mike Duncan with $1,040,109.
Stats that nearly match ... Cameron and Duncan have established nearly identical statistics. Both drivers have 96 starts. With 15 wins, Cameron has more victories than Duncan's eight. Duncan -- a two-time champion in the series -- has more Coors Light Poles with 20, compared to 11 for Cameron. Duncan has 44 top-five and 64 top-10 finishes, while Cameron has 43 top-five and 62 top-10 finishes.
Another consistent season ... Mike David (No. 2 Bennett Lane Winery Toyota) is starting 2008 with another consistent string of finishes, similar to the performance that led to his title last year. He finished seventh in Texas, becoming the only driver to finish in the top 10 in each of the first three races.
Three-for-three in 2008 ... With the win by Holmes in Texas, Toyota is now three-for-three in 2008.
Career-best mark ... Eric Hardin (No. 5 Direct Shopping Network Chevrolet) finished fourth in Texas, matching the career-best mark he had established at Tracy, Calif., in April of 2007.
Solid debut for two drivers ... Two drivers had a solid debut in the NASCAR Camping World Series in Texas. Kristin Bumbera (No. 40 TXI Maximizer Concrete Chevrolet) challenged veteran drivers throughout the event and finished 11th. Meanwhile, Pat O'Keefe (No. 31 BayBioDiesel/GGRT Chevrolet) finished on the lead lap in 17th.
Tough competition in Texas ... The Allstate Texas Thunder 150 featured some tough competition, with 20 of the 22 competitors running at the finish. Seventeen of those cars finished on the lead lap.
Wide-open race for rookie title ... The battle for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award has quickly developed into a wide-open challenge. Although Jeff Barkshire (No. 46 Centennial Batteries/SPE Dodge) was the top-finishing rookie in the two most recent races, he has not been able to establish any kind of lead over other members of the talented field of freshman drivers.
Final notes from Greenville-Pickens
Best Finishes ... Several NASCAR Camping World Series East drivers posted their best career finishes within the series in the season opening event at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. They include: Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Austin Dillon, winning in his first start as did 2007 rookie Joey Logano; second-place finisher Marc Davis, whose best prior finish was third, twice; Ben Stancill, third, best prior finish of 15th.
Rookie Derek Thorn, 22, originally from Lakeport, Calif., turned in a remarkable performance at Greenville. The ALS Association/racingforacure.com Ford driver qualified sixth-fastest, and ran inside the top 10 for the first 95 laps of the 156-lap race when a spin slowed his pace. He recovered to finish 24th, completing 153 laps. His team towed 16 hours from Wisconsin to enter the event, and had to make the field through qualifying.
Checking the Grenville-Pickens Barometer ... Since 2006 when the NASCAR Camping World Series East began opening the season at Greenville, the top five finishers in the race have been an unusually keen predictor of the outcome of the season's championship points race. Here are comparisons of the Greenville race finish and the final points standing of both years: 2006 -- Greenville top-five, Sean Caisse, Brian Hoar, Mike Olsen, Matt Kobyluck, Bryon Chew. Final points: Olsen, Caisse, Chew, Hoar and Kobyluck; 2007 -- Greenville top-five, Joey Logano, Caisse, Chew, Peyton Sellers, Rogelio Lopez. Final points: Logano, Caisse, Sellers, Kobyluck, Jeffrey Earnhardt. Based on the top five at Greenville last month, the ones to watch in 2008, in order of finish: Austin Dillon, Marc Davis, Ben Stancill, Eddie MacDonald, Ricky Carmichael.
Tracking the Veterans ... Tracking veterans of NASCAR's three national series, here are their 2008 performances at Greenville: Jody Lavendar (NASCAR Nationwide, NASCAR Craftsman Truck, Sixth; Steve Park, (NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide, Truck) Eighth; Richard Johns (Nationwide), 13th; Bobby Hamilton Jr. (Cup, Nationwide, Truck), 29th.
Drawing A Crowd ... A number of VIPs and special guests were on hand for the NASCAR Camping World Series East season opening event. Among those in attendance was Martha Earnhardt, wife of the late two-time Greenville-Pickens track champion, Ralph, the 1956 NASCAR Sportsman Division champion, who attended the event for the second-consecutive year. Mrs. Earnhardt is the grandmother of Kerry Earnhardt and great-grandmother of series driver Jeffrey Earnhardt.
Richard Childress was on hand to see his grandson, eventual winner Austin Dillon, compete in his first NASCAR series event. Wendell Scott Jr., namesake son of the first African American to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event (1963), attended the event. Veteran NASCAR driver Ken Schrader, a four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner, was in attendance as owner of two NASCAR Camping World Series East teams.
Dirt Tracks The King In Hawkeye State
In addition to Iowa Speedway, the Hawkeye State is home to four NASCAR Whelen All-American Series tracks -- all of which run on dirt.
Adams County Speedway is a half-mile oval in Corning, located in the southwestern quadrant of the state.
Track owner Keith Simmons runs a trio of tracks in east Iowa: Farley Speedway (1/2-mile, Friday), West Liberty Raceway (1/2-mile, Saturday) and Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway (3/8-mile, Sunday), which gives drivers a chance to run for the NWAAS state and national title. Andy Eckrich won the state title in 2007, claiming the track titles at Dubuque and Farley.
Notable natives: NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Landon Cassill (No. 5 National Guard Chevrolet) is from Cedar Rapids. The state also produced Dick Hutcherson, who won 14 races in 103 starts in the 1960s, and Shawna Robinson, who made 72 starts in the three national series.
Kahne Is 'Definitely In'
A visit to Iowa Speedway's official Web site (www.iowaspeedway.com) brings up a video of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Kasey Kahne, who says, "A NASCAR race at Rusty's track? I'm definitely in." And why not? The multi-grooved, 7/8-mile facility has done it's part to attract the biggest names in racing -- starting with employing former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Rusty Wallace to design the track.
Last year it was Daytona 500 winner Kevin Harvick, who made the trip to the Heartland less than 24 hours after winning the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Challenge in Charlotte, N.C.
Kahne, the 2004 Raybestos Rookie of the Year, sits 12th in points heading to Darlington Raceway. As a car owner, he's already gotten some feedback on the track
"My Kasey Kahne Racing USAC team went there last year and they raved about the track," Kahne said. "The configuration and progressive banking will make for some exciting racing and I have been eager to try the place out."
Kahne will drive in an East-designated Dodge for Dave Davis, who also fields the No. 03 Telmex/Lucas Oil Chevrolet for Rogelio Lopez.
A Look Back: 16-year-old Logano Out Sprints Harvick For Career-Defining Victory
When the subject isn't even old enough to vote, the phrase 'biggest win of his career' sounds kind of funny.
Yet, on the sunny May day before an Iowa Speedway record estimated crowd of 24,741, that's exactly what Joey Logano achieved.
Logano drove away from runner-up NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Kevin Harvick following a late-race restart to win the Featherlite Coaches 200 by nearly two-and-a-half seconds -- a day after Harvick won the Sprint All-Star Challenge and three months after he won the Daytona 500.
"After he won last night, to beat him today is pretty cool," Logano said following the race. "He just won a million bucks ... [to beat him is] as cool as it gets in my book."
Jesus Hernandez finished third, followed by Johnny Borneman and Mike Duncan.
The then 16-year-old Logano had already won two of his first three NASCAR Camping World Series starts.
Then came Iowa.
Harvick flew in from Charlotte Sunday morning and promptly posted the top time in qualifying. He then set the pace for the first 38 laps. Then Logano passed him for the first time. The two spent the rest of the race swapping the lead back and forth, pausing only to pit for tires and fuel at Lap 102 before making their way back through the field. Logano took the lead for the final time following a restart on Lap 194.
"I got a good start," Logano said. "We went down into [Turn] 1 and I said, 'Here we go, checker or wrecker.' I drove it in there, I heard him on and off the gas, I was on and off the gas, we were both sideways ..."
Logano went on to capture the NASCAR Camping World Series East championship and the postseason NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. He plans to make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at Dover International Speedway May 31 -- four days after he turns 18. Harvick, himself a former NASCAR Camping World Series West champion, went back to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, where he made the Chase for the Cup for the second time and finished 10th in the final points.
The other big story at Iowa was the West's resurgence. The NASCAR Camping World Series ran its first combination event at Elko (Minn.) Speedway, where the East grabbed six of the top seven spots. The West drivers returned the favor. Led by defacto West representative Harvick, the series had eight of the top 11 spots.
Eventual West Series champion Mike David had one of his worst finishes of the season in 20th. He wasn't the only fast car to run into trouble. Top qualifiers Peyton Sellers (fourth), Marc Davis (fifth) and Sean Caisse (sixth) also finished 34th or worse.
Fifty-three cars attempted to qualify for the 42-car field for NASCAR's first race at Iowa.
The Race: US Cellular 200
The Place: Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa
The Date: Sunday, May 18
The Time: 5:15 p.m. ET
TV Schedule: HDNet (Live), SPEED (enhanced replay)
Track Layout: 0.875-mile paved
Race Purse: $199,970
2007 Winner: Joey Logano
2007 Pole: Kevin Harvick
Schedule: Saturday: Practice 4:30-6 p.m. Sunday: Practice 9-10 a.m., Time Trials 12:30-1:30 p.m.