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XFINITY

Iowa Perfectly Captured Identity of XFINITY Series

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The two stand-alone NASCAR XFINITY Series races at Iowa Speedway are always among the best events of the season.

2017 proved no different as each visit to the 7/8-mile oval featured a first-time winner, season-best finishes for many drivers, and produced great racing.

The compelling competition resulted from the absence of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers and always unpredictable short-track racing.

In June, Christopher Bell made his second career series start, led a race high 152 laps but fell short of victory by the finish as William Byron earned his first triumph. 

On Saturday, young talent was on display once again as multiple competitors who aren’t typically the classes of the field impressed.

Ryan Preece has made the most out of his two starts with Joe Gibbs Racing this season. After finishing second at New Hampshire, he prevailed over teammate Kyle Benjamin and captured his first career series victory in the U.S. Cellular 250.

While Preece proved successful when racing against Cup Series drivers at New Hampshire, fewer experienced racers in the field provided him an improved chance to showcase his potential given a top ride, and he delivered.

Benjamin finished in the runner-up position in the car that Kyle Busch typically competes in, capturing his best career series finish.

Former Cup Series drivers were also able to shine as Brian Scott finished third and Sam Hornish Jr. placed in the top-10 in each stage before crashing late.

The success of the up and coming competitors and veterans who can still climb behind the wheel and run well is what makes the XFINITY Series unique.

When drivers competing for smaller teams like Ryan Sieg, Ross Chastain, and J.J. Yeley capture their best finishes of the year in these races, it also adds to the appeal of series.

These are also common characteristics of short-track racing which is often the proving ground for drivers looking to make a name for themselves.

While the grand stages of Daytona and Indianapolis are important, races like Iowa are what define the series.

Iowa provided some of the best racing of the season and working towards having more events play out similarly would be an excellent way to enhance the identity of the series.

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Jason Schultz

Jason Schultz aspires to enter the public relations field of NASCAR. Schultz, 19, attends UNC Charlotte and is a communication studies major with a focus in public relations. In addition to contributing to POPULAR SPEED, Schultz produces podcasts for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Dirty Mo Radio. He also completed a semester as a social media intern at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Each year, he volunteers as the social media correspondent for Autism Delaware's Drive for Autism golf tournament featuring NASCAR personalities and the AAA 400 Drive for Autism Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover.