The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is on hiatus for the Father’s Day Weekend, but the Xfinity Series is not. NASCAR’s top, for lack of a better term, minor league, will be in Newton, Iowa at Iowa Speedway for the CircuitCity.com 250.
Truth be told, I had no idea that Circuit City even still existed in an online capacity since the big box stores were all closed in 2009. Well, apparently they have enough money now to sponsor a NASCAR race, so here we are.
Odds are on the right-hand side for desktop viewers and down below the comment box for mobile viewers for the 14th race of 26 scheduled for the regular season.
Past the Halfway Point
Ironically, while the Xfinity Series is in action this Sunday and the MENCS is not, the Xfinity Series is off next week. This is the 14th race of 26 in the regular season, which wraps up on September 14 and puts the Xfinity Series one race behind the Cup Series. The two will not catch up because the first Cup Series playoff race is the final race of the Xfinity Series regular season.
Anyway, there are 13 races in the books for the Xfinity Series. Tyler Reddick won again last week at Michigan to secure his third win of the season and third win in five races. He is well ahead of the rest of the field with 627 points. Christopher Bell also has three wins, but he only has 538 points. Cole Custer also has three wins and is third with 510 points. Austin Cindric and Justin Allgaier round out the top five.
Michael Annett is the only other points driver with a win and he is ninth. Rookies Chase Briscoe, John Hunter Nemechek, Noah Gragson, and Justin Haley are in the top 10. If the playoffs started today, the last two spots would go to Ryan Sieg and Brandon Jones. Nobody else is even close to catching them in points, so it would take a win from a full-time points driver to unseat one of the top 12.
Is This Heaven?
No, it’s Iowa. Newton, Iowa, to be exact. The Xfinity Series actually stops here twice a year, with the US Cellular 250 coming up on July 27. The IndyCar Series also stops here. There are reports that Iowa is hoping to land a Cup Series race by 2021, but track officials have a long way to go.
The Xfinity Series, then Nationwide Series, started running here in 2009. Cup Series drivers used to fly in for the late July/early August race, but that hasn’t been the case the last few years. This is billed as the “Fastest Short Track on the Planet”, measuring .875 miles around the D-shaped oval. The average speed in this race has been 102.1 mph or higher in six of the eight years it has been run, so it has certainly lived up to that claim.
There is a road track inside the oval, but the NASCAR events are on the oval. Don’t worry road course fans, those are coming soon.
While the MENCS is Away, The Kids Will Play
Though, in all honesty, the Cup Series has had a very minimal impact on the Xfinity Series this season. Kyle Busch has his three wins, but 10 of the 13 races have been won by points drivers. Bell, Custer, and Reddick all have three wins. Annett has the other one. This week’s race does not feature any Cup Series drivers.
It will be one of Reddick, Bell, or Custer that wins this race in all likelihood. Reddick has ripped off 10 straight top-five finishes and has 11 on the season. Bell has seven, but has stage wins in three of the races in which he finished outside the top 10. Custer, who has had the pole position five times this season, also has seven top-five finishes and a stage win in a finish outside the top 10.
Other drivers have racked up a good number of top-five finishes. Allgaier has six. Briscoe also has six, but hasn’t finished higher than third. Gragson has three, including a runner-up last week at Michigan. Cindric and Annett also have three. Points have been there for the taking for these guys, but only three drivers have really stood out.
Recent Iowa Form
This was a really weird track back in 2017. William Byron won the first one, with Ryan Sieg second and a much younger, less experienced Reddick third. In the summer, Ryan Preece won in just his second Xfinity Series start. Kyle Benjamin was second and Brian Scott was third. Things went more according to plan in 2018, when the spring race was won by Allgaier, who also won the first two stages and led the most laps.
In the summer race, Bell won last year, with Allgaier second, and Benjamin was third. Benjamin did not sign on with a team for any Xfinity Series races this season, so he won’t be involved this week. That does make this week’s race a more challenging handicap. While there are no Cup Series guys to spoil the party, the last two years have provided some big surprises.
Bell is a deserving favorite at +170, with Custer at +290 and Reddick at +450. Allgaier is +650. Nobody else is being given much of a shot with a price of +2000 or higher.
As far as the shorter prices go, Allgaier is a really big fan of these intermediate tracks and tends to run pretty well at them. He led the most laps and won two stages on the mile at Bristol and was third at Richmond and second on the Monster Mile at Dover. If he’s going to get one, I think it will be one of these two races at Iowa, so I do like him this week at +650.
I’m also going to throw some scratch on a couple of bombs. Brandon Jones is +3300 this week. His point total in 12th doesn’t indicate how well he has run some weeks. He only has two top-five finishes, but his 78 stage points rank seventh. We know he has the equipment as a member of Joe Gibbs Racing. He was fifth in this race last year.
I’m also going to throw something on Chase Briscoe at +2600. Briscoe has struggled on bigger tracks, but he was fourth at Bristol and fifth at Dover. Pocono Raceway is a bigger track, but the narrow turns and the shifting more closely resemble a road course or a smaller oval and he was third there. He’s also a Midwest kid from Indiana and he’s seen this track a few times in his career, including an ARCA win here in 2016.