With the Sprint Cup drivers at Pocono Raceway this weekend, Saturday night's U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway will be left completely to NASCAR's Xfinity Series regulars in a race that could significantly impact the standings.
Chris Buescher enters the event in first place, and he has a golden opportunity to extend his lead, as he previously won at Iowa in May. He'll face plenty of competition from the rest of the field, though, as they're hungry to enter Victory Lane without any Sprint Cup drivers to contend with.
Ahead of the second and final Iowa race of the season, here is everything you need to know about when and where to watch the U.S. Cellular 250, as well as a rundown of the top contenders.
Where: Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa
When: Saturday, Aug. 1, at 8 p.m. ET
Xfinity Series at Iowa Schedule
|Schedule for U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa|
|Friday, July 31||4:30 p.m.||Practice||N/A|
|Friday, July 31||7 p.m.||Final Practice||NBCSN|
|Saturday, Aug. 1||4:45 p.m.||Qualifying||NBCSN|
|Saturday, Aug. 1||8 p.m.||U.S. Cellular 250||NBCSN|
Xfinity Series Standings
|NASCAR Xfinity Series Standings|
|Position||Driver||Car No.||Behind Leader||Wins|
|6||Darrell Wallace Jr.||6||-83||0|
Drivers to Watch
As the points leader and a winner at Iowa already this season, Buescher will undoubtedly be a marked man when the green flag waves for the first time Saturday night.
Even so, preventing him from winning won't be easy, as he is one of only two drivers racing for points in the Xfinity Series to have won a race this season. He has two victories to his credit overall, and his track record of success at Iowa suggests another could be on the horizon.
The past month has been a bit of a struggle for the 22-year-old driver, though, as he has finished outside the top 10 in each of the past four races and hasn't led a lap in the past five. Joseph Wolkin of Motorsport.com believes this is the week he will turn it around, however:
If Buescher doesn't find a way to get back to the front of the field Saturday, then he risks his lead evaporating even more, as both Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon are within 30 points of the top spot in the standings.
None of the drivers in close pursuit of Buescher have shown the ability to win a race this season, though, which should give Buescher a mental edge in the U.S. Cellular 250.
As one of the senior drivers on the Xfinity Series circuit, Elliott Sadler essentially has a built-in advantage over his opponents every week, as he knows the ins and outs of almost every track.
That is true of Iowa Speedway since the 40-year-old veteran won there in 2012, making him and Buescher the only two drivers in Saturday's field with a win at Iowa.
Sadler hasn't taken the checkered flag yet in 2015, but he has been close on several occasions with four top-five finishes to his credit. That includes a fifth-place result last week under awful conditions, as his air conditioning broke early in the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
He managed to finish the race and excel, which drew praise from Ty Dillon:
Sadler's ability to overcome adversity could potentially be a turning point in his season, and he is especially excited about what he and his team might be able to accomplish at Iowa, according to PaddockTalk.com:
Last week's top-five finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was such a huge team accomplishment. We struggled in both practices, but my team never gave up and provided me with a fast car for qualifying, which then gave us a great starting position for the race. The guys have been working so hard in the shop building these new cars and the results have shown. We have three top-five finishes with our new cars. We finished ninth earlier this year at Iowa and with our great finish at Indy, we're ready to get back on the track and bring home another positive finish.
Sadler is currently 57 points behind Buescher in fifth place, but the former Sprint Cup regular can make the deficit far more manageable by winning for the first time this season.
Iowa may represent his best chance with most of the top drivers in Pocono, and there is no question that he's well aware of that fact.
The closest thing to an invading driver in this week's U.S. Cellular 250 is Erik Jones, as he is racing for points in the truck series despite being a weekly participant in the Xfinity Series as well.
Even though Jones is racing for pride, money and experience more than anything in the Xfinity Series, he has enjoyed a great deal of success this season with two wins to his credit. Since he and Buescher are the only drivers with multiple wins this year at Iowa, there is no question that he is among the top contenders.
The 19-year-old phenom finished third earlier in the season at Iowa, and he has a great chance to be a thorn in the side of Buescher and every other driver who is looking to move up in the standings this weekend.
Jones is the hottest prospect in NASCAR right now, and he seemingly gains more confidence and ability every time he competes on the track.
He knows that he is already among the best drivers the Xfinity Series has to offer, and it won't be at all surprising if he manages to pull off his third win of 2015.
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