Some of the nation’s top young talent have emerged this season as rising stars this season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, which serves as NASCAR’s top developmental series. These newcomers, coupled with veterans of the series, will head to Newton, Iowa this week for the Goodyear Dealers of Iowa 200 on Sunday, May 23.
The fourth annual NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination race marks the only event in which competitors from the East and West go head-to-head with championship points on the line. This year’s race serves as the third race of the season for both the East and the West.
Beyond the $183,706 in prize money and posted awards at stake, competitors are out to gain bragging rights in coming away as the top overall driver in this event each year.
Although the season is young, some talented young drivers have already started to make a name for themselves in both the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
There are 17 drivers registered for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year program in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. In the first two races this year, rookies earned 65% of the top-10 finishes, including both wins.
Ten drivers initially registered this season for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, meanwhile. Rookies garnered four of the top-10 finishing positions in the season opener, including the runner-up spot, and accounted for three in the top 10 in the second event.
While NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Kyle Busch will not be back to defend his East-West Challenge win at Iowa, Joe Gibbs Racing will return with 17-year-old Max Gresham behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota. Gresham drove the same car to a third-place finish in the K&N Pro Series West race at Iowa last September.
Fellow JGR driver Brett Moffitt will look for his first win at his home track, Iowa Speedway. The 17-year-old from Grimes finished sixth overall in the East-West race and was fourth in the West Series race at Iowa last fall.
Moffitt is not the only Iowa native slated to compete in the East-West Challenge this year. He will be joined by Cedar Rapids’ Joey Gase, who will make his K&N Pro Series East debut in the No. 08 of Spraker Racing Enterprises. Gase is a development driver for SS Green Light Racing.
While the more experienced series drivers generally filled the top finishing spots in the first three editions of the East-West combination race, a few veterans have encountered tough luck each year at Iowa.
A 27th-place finish in 2008 is the best outcome in this event for Eric Holmes (No. 20 NAPA Toyota), a two-time champion in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. He also recorded a 38th-place finish in 2007 and a 36th-place finish last year.
Although Matt Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Resort Casino Chevrolet) is the K&N Pro Series East active wins leader, and has won at 11 different tracks, he has an average finish of 20th overall in the first three East-West Challenges at Iowa, with a best effort of eighth in 2008.
Among the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West entries this year at Iowa, four drivers have competed in all three of the previous combination races there. In addition to Holmes – Daryl Harr (No. 71 WestWorld Computers Chevrolet), David Mayhew (No. 17 MMI Services/Ron’s Rear Ends/KHI Chevrolet) and Brett Thompson (No. 61 Rich Thompson Trucking Chevrolet) will be making their fourth appearance in this event.
For some drivers focused on the season-long title, meanwhile, the Iowa event can serve as a turning point in their effort. Ryan Truex (No. 00 NAPA Toyota) crashed out and finished 33rd in last year’s race, then went on to reel off seven-straight top-three finishes to earn the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship.
The Race: Goodyear Dealers of Iowa 200
The Place: Iowa Speedway
The Date: Sunday, May 23
The Time: 3 p.m. CT
TV Schedule: SPEED, May 27, 6 p.m. ET
Track Layout: .875-mile paved oval
Race Purse: $183,706
2009 Winner: Kyle Busch (Overall/East); David Mayhew (West)
2009 Polesitter: Kyle Busch (Overall/East); David Mayhew (West)
Event Schedule: Saturday: Practice 4-5:30 p.m. Sunday:, 8:45– 9:15 a.m., Qualifying noon
Track Contact: Craig Armstrong
The race … The Goodyear Dealers of Iowa 200 is the annual NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination race. It is the only race in which the East and West compete for championship points in the same event. It is the third race on the 2010 for both the East and West.
The procedure … The starting field is 44 cars, including provisionals. The first 38 cars will qualify through time trials. The remaining six spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 200 laps (175 miles).
The track … Iowa Speedway is a .875-mile speedway with the turns banked 12-14 degrees, four degrees banking in the Backstretch and 10 degrees banking in the Frontstretch.
The records … Qualifying: Kyle Busch, May 17, 2009, 135.484 mph, 23.250 sec.; Race: Kyle Busch, May 17, 2009, 100.800 mph, 1 hour 44 minutes 10 seconds.
No repeats … Three East-West combination races at Iowa have resulted in three different race winners and three different pole winners.
Debut set for Boat … Chad Boat (No. 30 Curb Records Chevrolet), son of open-wheel racer Billy Boat, is set to make his K&N Pro Series debut at Iowa Speedway. The 18-year-old driver from Phoenix, Ariz., has a resume that includes quarter midgets, light modifieds, mini sprints, midgets and sprint cars.
Richards returns … Owner of four World of Outlaws Late Model wins already in 2010, the defending champion in that series, Josh Richards (No. 1 Dave Davis Chevrolet), is slated to make his first K&N Pro Series East start this year after three appearances a year ago.
Wedding bells at G.G.R.T … Wedding bells were ringing from coast to coast recently for members of the Golden Gate Racing Team. Second-year driver Blake Koch (No. 21 Daystar Chevrolet) and Shannon Crytzer were married on May 1. The wedding took place in West Palm Beach, Fla. Meanwhile, Chris Sager, a crew member on the G.G.R.T. team, and Kim Choat were married in a ceremony that took place near Bakersfield, Calif., also on May 1.
Final Notes From Phoenix
Holmes gets Phoenix win … Eric Holmes (No. 20 NAPA Toyota) won at Phoenix International Raceway for his first time in NASCAR K&N Pro Series West competition, with a victory in the Jimmie Johnson Foundation 100 on April 8. Holmes had two runner-up finishes in five previous series starts at PIR, but had yet to visit Victory Lane there. The win marked his 10th career series victory.
Pole for Myers … Andrew Myers (No. 77 Toyota of Escondido/NEO Toyota) won the Coors Light Pole Award at Phoenix, his second pole of his career in the series.
Career-best marks … A top-five finish for one driver and top-10 finishes for several others at PIR represented career-best marks. Jonathon Gomez (No. 22 Heritage Cattle/Century Boatland Chevrolet) came away with a career-high fourth-place finish. Stan Silva Jr., (No. 65 A&S Metals/Stan Silva Jr Trucking Chevrolet) set a career mark in finishing seventh, while Taylor Barton (No. 60 Full Tilt Poker.Net Chevrolet) had a career-best ninth-place finish and Michael Self (No. 88 Johnnie Walker Performance Center/Motorway Chevrolet) notched his first top-10 with a 10th-place finish.
Solid series debut … Toni Marie McCray (No. 90 Lucas Oil/Hodgdon Ford) made her series debut at Phoenix, battling back from mechanical trouble to finish 13th.
Last year’s event ...
Kyle Busch accomplished last year what previous visiting NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers could not do – win the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination race at Iowa Speedway.
Busch, fresh from competing in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte the night before, made the most of a Sunday morning practice session at Iowa to fine tune the set up of his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. He went on to capture the Coors Light Pole Award and dominate the race – leading 168 of the 200 laps.
His biggest challenge came after a series of pit stops by the leaders midway through the race. After restarting sixth on Lap 79, Busch charged forward and took the lead from Chris Johnson on Lap 104. Busch relinquished the lead again to top off with fuel on Lap 118. After restarting second, he moved past Jason Bowles for the lead on Lap 125 and set sail to the finish.
While Busch was heading to victory, defending race winner Brian Ickler and David Mayhew waged a fierce door-to-door battle in the closing laps. Ickler prevailed to take second place, with Mayhew finishing a close third. Jeffrey Earnhardt passed Paulie Harraka in the closing laps to grab fourth.
WEST— 2010 SUNOCO
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR STANDINGS
1. Josh Combs, 17
2. Todd Souza, 17
3. Taylor Barton, 15
4. Luis Martinez Jr">Luis Martinez Jr., 15
5. Michael Self, 13
6. Travis Milburn, 13
7. Greg Rayl, 7
8. Troy Ermish, 5
9. Justin Funkhouser, 1
Up Next West Travels To Roseburg
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, heads next to Roseburg, Ore., for its annual visit to Douglas County Speedway on June 5.
Eric Holmes will be shooting for his third consecutive win in the event and the fifth straight victory at Roseburg for the NAPA entry of the Bill McAnally Racing team. Overall, BMR has won six of eight visits to the fairgrounds track since 2002. The series first visited the track in 1966, with Jack McCoy taking the win.