Cole Custer

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Rain washes out Xfinity practices, Truck race at Iowa

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UPDATE AS OF 9:30 p.m. ET:

NASCAR officials tried but Mother Nature refused to cooperate in stopping rain around Iowa Speedway Saturday evening.

As a result, the M&Ms 200 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race has been postponed until Sunday. The green flag will drop shortly after Noon ET (to be televised on FS1 and on radio on Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Qualifying for Sunday’s Xfinity Series race is slated for 2:35 p.m. ET (FS2, no radio), while the CircuitCity.com 250 Xfinity race will go off shortly after 5:30 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

UPDATE AS OF 9 p.m. ET:

The start of tonight’s M&Ms 200 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway has been delayed due to weather.

However, the heavy rain has stopped and track drying efforts are underway.

We will continue to monitor the situation and give you updates as they become available.

UPDATE AS OF 7:15 p.m. ET: 

After bad weather prompted NASCAR officials to shorten the first of two Xfinity Series practices at Iowa Speedway, the second and final Xfinity practice has now been cancelled.

NASCAR is still hoping the weather relents to get the scheduled M&Ms 200 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series in tonight. The green flag is slated to fall at 8:30 p.m. ET (FS1 and MRN/SiriusXM).

Qualifying for Sunday’s CircuitCity.com 250 Xfinity race is still slated for tomorrow at 2 p.m. ET, with the green flag set for shortly after 5 p.m. ET. The weather forecast looks good, according to wunderground.com.

We’ll keep you updated with any changes as they become available.

ORIGINAL STORY:

For the second time today, weather has interrupted activities of both the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Iowa Speedway.

Earlier this afternoon, rain forced the cancellation of qualifying for tonight’s M&Ms 200 Truck Series race. The weather also pushed back the start of the first of two Xfinity practices.

In addition to lightning being seen near the racetrack, the area in and around Newton, Iowa is under a thunderstorm watch. That prompted NASCAR officials to stop the first Xfinity practice, which had been already rescheduled once to go from 5:30 p.m. to 6:25 p.m. ET, to be shortened with 25 minutes of time remaining.

Harrison Burton was the fastest driver (130.192 mph) in the Xfinity pack before the session was stopped due to the approaching bad weather.

Second through 10th-fastest were Christopher Bell (130.112 mph), Austin Cindric (130.063), Noah Gragson (129.977), Cole Custer (129.817), Chase Briscoe (128.935), Zane Smith (128.892), Tyler Reddick (128.834), John Hunter Nemechek (128.687) and Justin Allgaier (128.629).

Click here for the results from the abbreviated first Xfinity practice.

A second Xfinity practice is due to take place from 7 to 7:50 p.m., followed by tonight’s main event, the Truck Series race at 8:30 p.m. ET (FS1 and MRN/SiriusXM). However, weather radar to the north and west of the track is not looking promising at this point.

We’ll update as more information on the conditions becomes available.

NASCAR America: Who can challenge the Xfinity Series’ Big 3?

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Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer have clearly staked out their territory in the Xfinity Series this season with three wins each.

But who are the drivers that can challenge the trio in the coming summer months?

Parker Kligerman and AJ Allmendinger discussed it on NASCAR America’s The Motorsports Hour.

Allmendinger believes veteran Justin Allgaier, who won at Iowa Speedway last year, is a threat.

“He’s been there, he’s done it for so long,” Allmendinger said. “He’s so consistent. You know at times he’s going to put himself in position to win races. … He’s the easy answer. But I look at guys like Noah Gragson, Justin Haley and John Hunter Nemechek. They’re young drivers, brand new to teams … In the second half of this regular season, will they be able to step up?”

Meanwhile, Kligerman championed Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe.

“He’s the teammate of one the Big 3 in Cole Custer,” Kligerman said. “I just think he’s doing everything he needs to be learning, riding hot on the heels of Cole Custer, he’s right there (sixth) in points. He’s had some good runs, he won in the Truck Series, he won on the Roval last year in the Xfinity Series and I just think he’s due.”

Watch the above video for more.

 

Xfinity’s Big 3 get spotlight at Iowa Speedway

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What a difference a year makes.

When the Xfinity Series made the first of two visits to Iowa Speedway last year, its 14th race of the season, only four Xfinity Series regulars had claimed race wins.

Those drivers – Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, Justin Allgaier and Spencer Gallagher –  had one win apiece (part-time driver Ryan Preece also had one win).

With the series set to return this weekend to the .875-mile track in Newton, Iowa, the balance of power in the Xfinity garage couldn’t look more different than 12 months ago.

Entering Sunday’s CircuitCity.com 250, the series again sees just four regulars with race wins. But only one of those drivers, Michael Annett, is stuck on a single victory.

Reddick, Bell and Cole Custer are miles ahead of the competition with three wins each and are vastly improved over their 2018 selves.

Tyler Reddick claimed his third win of the season at Michigan. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Tyler Reddick

Agreed upon by NBC Sports’ writers as the most impressive national series driver this year, Reddick’s performance in Richard Childress Racing’s No. 2 Chevrolet is a complete 180 from this point last year.

After winning the 2018 season opener at Daytona, the then JR Motorsports driver fell off a cliff. He earned just one more top five before the first Iowa race and wouldn’t get another until race No. 24 at Darlington, which began his championship surge.

Now Reddick is enjoying the best stretch of racing in his career and making history in the process.

His win Saturday at Michigan was his 10th consecutive top five, the longest streak by a non-Cup competitor since Sam Ard had 11 straight in 1984 (Ard had 15 straight from 1983-84).

Through 13 races, Reddick is tied for the most top fives all-time at this point (11) and has the second best average finish (3.9).

And if not for a pass by Custer on the last turn at Pocono, Reddick would have four wins.

While all six of Reddick’s Xfinity wins to date have come at different tracks, none have been on a track shorter than 1.5-miles.

He’ll try to change that at Iowa, where he has one top five in four starts (third in 2017).

“This year we’ll be headed into Iowa Speedway with some unknowns since we have a new tire,” Reddick said in a media release. “We had a tire test there about a month ago that we participated in (and involved Bell and Custer) and it looks like they’re going in a direction with a harder tire that won’t have as much fall-off. I think they’re hoping with a harder tire there will be some more interesting strategy calls in the race, so that we may see some teams take two or no tires in order to gain track position.

“We’ll see what happens with that. The tire we used to have there was really fast and didn’t really have any fall-off, so I would go to the top groove right away. This time the bottom lane will be open for everybody, but I don’t think it will be quite as fast.”

Christopher Bell has two more wins than he had after 13 races in 2018. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Christopher Bell

Bell is staying just ahead of his pace last year that made him the championship favorite before Reddick’s surprising surge.

While Bell won a rookie record seven races in 2018, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver didn’t turn on the afterburners until after the July Daytona race. By race No. 14 last year, Bell had one win (Richmond), with seven top fives with no finishes between sixth to 10th.

A year later, Bell again has seven top fives and one finish between sixth and 10th after 13 races. He also has one less DNF than he had in 2018 (three).

Bell’s wins this year have come at Atlanta (1.5-mile track), Bristol (half-mile) and Dover (1-mile).

Now Bell will look to continue a hot streak at Iowa. With three starts there he finished in the top two in both races last year, including a win in the July race.

“We should have a good shot at it; short track racing seems to be our strong suit right now,” Bell said in a media release. “I enjoy 1.5-mile tracks and intermediate style racing better, but for whatever reason, we seem to run better on the short tracks. Iowa is like a short track with intermediate track speeds; it’s in its own unique category. It’s a fun racetrack; you get to go there and typically you can pass, move around and find different lanes.”

Cole Custer is well ahead of the pace he set in his first two Xfinity seasons. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Cole Custer

While Reddick is arguably the most improved driver from last year, don’t let it overshadow what Custer has accomplished.

In his third full-time season with Stewart-Haas Racing, Custer has hit his sweet spot. He has three wins after earning only one each in 2017 and ’18. Both wins came in the final three races of those seasons.

Thus far this season, the No. 00 Ford has seven top fives including its three wins. Custer had four top fives at this point in 2018.

One downside is that Custer has two fewer top 10s heading to Iowa than he did last year (10). He is tied with Bell with eight.

Custer took pride earlier this year in finally earning a win on a short track (Richmond). He’ll attempt to back it up in Iowa, where he has two top fives in four starts. He led 104 laps there last July before finishing ninth after he made late-race contact with the wall.

“It’s the best track we go to,” Custer said of Iowa on NASCAR.com. “It’s so fun, you’re able to run from the top to the bottom, throw slide jobs. It’s probably the biggest track we throw slide jobs at. … It’s every driver’s dream I would say.”

Goodyear Tire info for Xfinity, Trucks at Iowa Speedway

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Both the Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series will use a brand new tire setup for this weekend’s races at Iowa Speedway.

This is the first time teams in both series have used this combination of left- and right-side tires at Iowa, though Xfinity teams did run this left-side tire code at Phoenix in March. Compared to what was run at Iowa last season, the left- and right-side tires feature minor construction changes to align them with what is run at similar tracks and compound changes for more grip.

This tire setup is the result of a Goodyear test at Iowa on April 16-17 with Christopher Bell, Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick.

As on most NASCAR ovals 1 mile or less in length, teams will not run inner liners in their tires at Iowa.

Here is the tire info.

Set limits: Xfinity: Six sets for the event; Truck: Seven sets for the event

Tire Codes: Left-side — D-4864; Right-side — D-4884

Minimum Recommended Inflation: Left Front – 16 psi; Left Rear – 16 psi; Right Front – 36 psi; Right Rear – 34 psi

Tyler Reddick wins Xfinity race at Michigan

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BROOKLYN, Mich. – Tyler Reddick took the lead with 11 laps to go when the leaders had to pit and cruised to his third victory in the last five Xfinity Series races Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.

“I’ve had good strings of runs as a young driver racing in dirt cars, but this is the best run I’ve had in my career I feel like on the level that I am,” Reddick said. “I’m already thinking about (next weekend’s race) at Iowa.”

The race changed on a caution at Lap 78 of the 125-lap race. Christopher Bell led and Cole Custer was second. There was a miscommunication between Bell and his pits and he stayed on track. Custer, told to do what Bell did, also stayed out. Reddick pitted.

“My definition was a little different than what Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) had planned,” Bell said. “Ultimately, that was a big hiccup in our day.”

Said Custer: “The strategy just didn’t work out for us.”

With track position critical, Reddick’s move proved to be the key. The race went the rest of the way without a caution, forcing Bell and Custer to pit under green, moving Reddick into the lead.

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points report

Noah Gragson finished second and was followed by JR Motorsports teammate Michael Annett. Paul Menard, who started on the pole, placed fourth. JR Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier finished fifth.

Custer placed 12th. Bell finished 13th.

This marked the seventh consecutive race that either Reddick, Custer or Bell has won.

Stage 1 winner: Paul Menard

Stage 2 winner: Christopher Bell

Who had a good race: JR Motorsports had three drivers in the top five and all four place in the top 10. Noah Gragson tied his career high by placing second. Michael Annett was third for his best finish since winning at Daytona. Justin Allgaier was fifth for this third top five in the last four races. Jeb Burton spun early but battled back to finish ninth, giving him top-10 finishes in all three starts this year. … Chase Briscoe rallied back from a spin to place seventh.

Who had a bad race: Riley Herbst was involved in an early accident and finished 37th in the 38-car field. … Dillon Bassett finished last because of an accident.

Next: June 16 at Iowa Speedway