While the Sprint Cup season is nearing the midway point in the regular season, the Nationwide Series is entering its 10th race of the year this weekend.
At this point, Chase Elliott is sitting on top of the throne in NASCAR's equivalent of the minor leagues. Just 18 years old, the JR Motorsports driver has been dominant to this point, taking two checkered flags and a top-10 finish in seven of nine races thus far.
But Elliott is far from the only impressive driver this season. The top five is loaded with young drivers like Elliott and Ty Dillon, the younger brother of Austin, but has plenty of experience with names like Elliott Sadler and Regan Smith.
As the Nationwide Series turns its attention to Iowa Speedway, here's a look at the schedule, current standings and preview for the race.
Get To Know Newton 250 Information
Where: Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa
When: Sunday May 18, 2 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
|2014 Nationwide Standings|
|Pos.||Driver||Car||Wins||Top 5||Top 10|
Sunday's race will likely be the second-most important event of the weekend for Elliott.
The 18-year-old wrapped up his high school career over a week ago and is set to graduate from Kings Ridge Christian School this Saturday. Elliott spoke about the difficulty of balancing the two events, per Nate Ryan of USA Today:
I don't expect it to be too terribly bad. I've done two races in the same weekend in different places before. I assume it'll be kind of similar to that. ... This year was busier than most, but I've been racing Late Models since sixth grade so I've missed a lot of Thursdays and Fridays at school. It's kind of been a normal routine.
As for the rest of the NASCAR world, the Nationwide's Twitter account and Ryan McGee of ESPN poked fun at the young driver:
While Elliott is clearly the hottest young gun this season on the track, he won't be the only budding star looking for the win.
Last year's winner, Trevor Bayne, known most famously for his 2011 Daytona 500 win, sits at fourth in points without a win this season. Bayne has six top-10s this season but is without a visit to Victory Lane through the first nine races.
Another driver to watch in Iowa this weekend will be Elliott's teammate, Smith. The 30-year-old driver has not finished outside of the top 10 this season and captured a win at Daytona. Given that he finished seventh in last year's running at Iowa, Smith could secure his 10th top-10 finish of the season or possibly another checkered flag.
As the race gets underway Sunday afternoon, look for all three of these drivers to compete for the win. With a few wily veterans like Sadler hanging around, Iowa is up for grabs for a number of different drivers.
Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter: