There are several new faces of NASCAR emerging, none of which have wrinkles.
Youth is slowly taking over in all three series of the sport as names like Kyle Larson and Darrell Wallace Jr. are blossoming. In the Nationwide Series, there are two names that have taken over the circuit.
Just a week after Chase Elliott notched his third win of the season, Ty Dillon captured his first career checkered flag at Indianapolis. Needless to say, youth has been served in the lower level of NASCAR.
Tack on the fact that Elliott remains atop the standings with Dillon trailing by just 15 points, and this looks like an outstanding showdown coming down the stretch. Separating the two rookies are veterans Regan Smith and Elliott Sadler, who also have wins this year.
As the Nationwide standings heat up, here's a look at the schedule, standings and preview for the U.S. Cellular 250.
U.S. Cellular 250 Information
Where: Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa
When: Saturday, Aug. 2, 8 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
|Pos.||Driver||Points||Wins||Top 5||Top 10|
On the heels of a convincing win by Wallace in the truck series, Dillon was brilliant at Indianapolis. Ironically enough, 42-year-old Jeff Gordon won at the Brickyard on Sunday 20 years after his first victory at the track.
To put that in perspective, Dillon was just two years old when Gordon won the first Brickyard 400. As for Wallace, well, he was still over two months away from being born. Elliott, on the other hand, was still over two years away from being born.
While it hasn't been a perfect season for Dillon, he's still fourth in points and now has his first win. Dan Gelston of The Associated Press, via The Island Packet, puts the season into perspective for the 22-year-old:
Dillon, who started third, had already finished in the top 10 12 times. But he's also been haunted by common rookie mistakes, like missing pit stalls and, most notably, picking up a pair of speeding penalties while running with the leaders in Las Vegas.
But he was near flawless in holding off the Sprint Cup regulars who dropped down for Saturday's race.
Who will win at Iowa?
Just as they did at Indy, Dillon and the Nationwide regulars will have to deal with current and former Sprint Cup drivers.
Brad Keselowski will be the lone current Sprint Cup contender, but Sam Hornish Jr. has the most recent win at Iowa. With the track hoping to eventually get a premier series race, having star power like the Sprint drivers, Elliott and Dillon helps draw an audience.
Despite having just five starts in the Nationwide circuit, Hornish is 25th in the standings. Hornish spoke about getting an opportunity to run in the Iowa race following the win in May, per NASCAR on ESPN:
Sam: "We had a great car all day long. ... It's just wonderful. ... I'm so blessed and thankful that this opportunity came along." #NASCAR— NASCAR on ESPN (@ESPNNASCAR) May 18, 2014
With just 14 races remaining on the Nationwide schedule, every race is pivotal from this point on.
Several young drivers have emerged at the top of the standings, but veterans know how to close out a season strong. Heading into the final race in Iowa, expect things to get interesting on the oval.
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