Chase Elliott hopes June will make him forget tough month of May

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It’s been a rough month for Chase Elliott.

From Richmond to last Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, Elliott has finished no higher than 24th in the last four points races:

Richmond: Finished 24th (due primarily to an uncontrolled tire late in the race).

Talladega: Finished 30th (involved in the big one, climbed the wall in the wreck).

Kansas: Finished 29th (contact with Michael McDowell on pit road early in the race, never was able to recover).

Charlotte: Finished 38th (ran into oil and debris from Jeffrey Earnhardt’s car, and was then wrecked from behind by Brad Keselowski, who couldn’t stop fast enough).

During that time, the driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has dropped from second place heading into Richmond to seventh in the points after Charlotte.

“I don’t know that I have had an entire month be quite as rough as May has,” Elliott said Friday at Dover International Speedway. “I definitely have had things like that happen over time, but I just don’t know that it’s all been back-to-back to back like it seems like it has been here lately.

“I don’t like using the term ‘bad luck,’ but I guess some of it has been, so to speak. I’m not real sure what you call it, but the big thing for us is you got to keep trying to stay high on what you have going on, try to run well.”

The only saving grace for Elliott during that whole time was earning the fan vote that got him into the Monster Energy All-Star Race, where he finished seventh.

But then, that was a non-points race, so it doesn’t count in the big picture of the 36-race NASCAR Cup season.

However, there’s positive news heading into this weekend: Elliott finished third in both Cup races at Dover last year.

To say he’s been looking forward to this race is an understatement.

“It was a rough whole month of May really for us,” Elliott said. “We are happy to see June here and just kind of a shot to try to improve and get some good solid finishes if nothing else or really just finish would be good.

“That is our goal this weekend to try not to have anything stupid happen, finish and hopefully just try to move on down the road and try to get some just solid days, just good experience, execution and just exercise all the parts of the race that you have to do to run well and compete to win.”

Hendrick Motorsports teammate and seven-time NASCAR Cup champ Jimmie Johnson can relate to the frustration Elliott has gone through recently.

“There are certain racing things that drivers and teams look at to see if maybe we could control that,” Johnson said of Elliott. “What happened to him in the 600 was definitely one of those scenarios.

“And he opened the season so strong and was carrying the banner for Hendrick Motorsports. He and I haven’t had any deep conversations on it other than man, that’s bad luck. And I expect he and the No. 24 team to rally back and be up front and winning; hopefully winning their first race very soon.”

 

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Tonight’s Xfinity race at Iowa: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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Sam Hornish Jr. looks to return to Iowa Speedway and win the June event for the second consecutive year, but several others, including points leader Elliott Sadler and rookie teammate William Byron, look for their first series win of the year. Justin Allgaier and Ryan Reed seek their second victory of the season.

Here are the particulars for tonight’s Xfinity race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: Emily Skor, CEO Growth Energy, will give the command to start engines at 8:37 p.m. Green flag is set for 8:44 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 250 laps (218.75 miles) around the 7/8-mile oval.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 60. Stage 2 ends on Lap 120.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Xfinity garage opens at 2:30 p.m. The driver/crew chief meeting is at 7:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 8:10 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Specialist Michelle Monroe, Iowa National Guard 34th Army Band, will perform the Anthem at 8:31 p.m.

TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race. Its coverage begins at 8 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s broadcast on radio and at mrn.com begins at 8 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 70 degrees at race time with a 1 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Sam Hornish Jr. led 183 of 250 laps to win this event a year ago. Ty Dillon was second. Brad Keselowski was third. Erik Jones won the most recent Iowa race last July, leading 154 of 250 laps. Ty Dillon was second. Elliott Sadler placed third.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying begins at 6:15 p.m.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Larson want Cup All-Star Race at Iowa Speedway

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NASCAR has been sending its Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series to Iowa Speedway since 2009, but its premier series has never held a race at the .875-mile track in Newton, Iowa.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kyle Larson would like that to change sooner rather than later.

Stenhouse and Larson spoke to the Des Moines Register ahead of this weekend’s NASCAR races at the track.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver and former Iowa winner expressed enthusiasm at Iowa someday hosting the Monster Energy All-Star Race.

“To see how much support that the Iowa Speedway gets from the fans, it’s pretty incredible,” Stenhouse said. “I’d love to get the All-Star race here.”

The exhibition has been held at Charlotte Motor Speedway every year but one since it was introduced in 1985. It was at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1986.

But with lackluster races and fan turnout in recent years for the event at the 1.5-mile track, support has been growing to possible hold the event at other tracks.

“I would like that better than Charlotte, for sure. … I’d be down for it,” Larson told the newspaper of having the event in Iowa.

Iowa Speedway opened in 2006 and was bought by NASCAR in 2013.

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Saturday’s track schedules at Sonoma and Iowa

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Today we reach the mid-point of this weekend’s busy NASCAR schedule.

The NASCAR Cup Series will have a short day at Sonoma Raceway, with only qualifying on the agenda at 2:45 p.m. ET.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series will have the busier day at Iowa Speedway, with qualifying at 6:15 p.m. ET, followed by the American Ethanol e15 200 at 8:30 p.m. ET. Sam Hornish Jr. is the defending winner of this race, and returns to try and make it two in a row, racing this year for Team Penske.

Here’s today’s schedule (all times are Eastern):

At SONOMA

10 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Cup garage open

2:45 p.m. – Cup qualifying (multi-vehicle, two rounds) (FS1, Performance Racing Network)

At IOWA

2:30 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

6:15 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying (multi-vehicle, three rounds) (Tape delayed at 7 p.m. ET on FS1)

7:30 p.m. – Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting

8 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

8:30 p.m. – American Ethanol e15 200 Xfinity Series race (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR radio)

Stats, Results for Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway

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John Hunter Nemechek led the final six laps to win the Camping World Truck Series’ M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway.

It’s his second win in two weeks.

Nemechek beat out Johnny Sauter, Brandon Jones, Grant Engfinger and Christopher Bell.

Click here for race results.