NAS: Drivers expect fun, full house at Iowa Speedway series debut

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Iowa Speedway gets its turn in the NASCAR Cup Series spotlight for the first time in Sunday night’s Iowa Corn 350 Powered by Ethanol, and the prevailing feeling is that the inaugural event in the top series will reward fans with an eyeful and earful of excitement.

An earful would be just about right for the corn-themed state.

When NASCAR has branched out to new markets, the results have been generally fantastic, especially at the beginning, though some tracks fizzled out and are no longer listed as “present” when roll is called on the Cup Series’ schedule.

Speedways in Kansas, Texas, Las Vegas and near St. Louis have made it work and do well in front of good crowds, while others in Chicago, California, Kentucky and Wisconsin had obstacles that couldn’t be overcome and ultimately came to pit road and loaded up for the final time.

However, motorsports fans in the Midwest have deep roots and are plentiful. They show up in droves to harvest the bounty of tracks throughout the region, whether it is in a series governed by NASCAR, IndyCar, ARCA, or even the old K&N — including Iowa Speedway.

“I think what’s exciting for me about (Iowa) is I remember going there in K&N and Xfinity,” said Chase Elliott, who has won the series’ Most Popular Driver honors six straight times. “I remember fans always talking about how they wanted a Cup race, so I’m excited. … It’s been a worthy facility for a long time. I think it’s good.”

Reigning series champion Ryan Blaney hasn’t raced there in 10 years, but he’s excited to be back because of the track being wide, racy and at a unique length of 7/8th-mile.

“The fans there were always like really dedicated to the event and the weekend, no matter if it was IndyCar, trucks, Xfinity, whatever it was,” Blaney said. “It’s good for the area around there.”

When the central Iowa city of Newton threw its hat into the motorsports ring in 2004 and decided to build a new race track, it enlisted the design services of a Midwesterner — former NASCAR great Rusty Wallace.

To no one’s surprise, Iowa Speedway turned out to be something Wallace would certainly have liked to turn left on.

A winner of 55 Cup races and the 1989 championship, the Missouri native made it known throughout his career how much he enjoyed the 3/4-mile, D-shaped short track in Richmond. It bears a strong resemblance to the speedway in Newton, a town where the Maytag Washing Machine Co. got its start in 1893.

“I do think that anytime we go to a new facility or a new town of any sort, it’s been a home run,” said Blaney’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano. “People show up. It’s the unknown. People like change and new things. I think (adding a new track) to the circuit every year makes total sense. It’s been healthy for the sport.”

Among others involved in Iowa Speedway, Wallace helped build it.

The fans will come.

–Field Level Media

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