*In a Nutshell:* Ryan Blaney took the checkered flag 0.168 seconds ahead of Ty Dillon to win the American 200 Saturday night at Iowa Speedway. Blaney survived four restarts and a hard charge from Dillon to grab his first career Truck Series victory in his third start. Todd Bodine, Johnny Sauter and Cale Gale rounded out the top 5.
*Who Should Have Won:* *Ryan Blaney.* Parker Kligerman started on the pole and looked to be the guy to beat, having led 107 laps on the night, until late-race pit strategy forced the driver of the No. 7 to make a green flag pit stop. After taking advantage of the wave-around, Kligerman gained eight spots on a late restart and was charging his way to the front when he spun thanks to a right rear tire that went down. That left Blaney, who had run inside the top 10, easily passing other competitors for much of the night to excel. He moved into the lead with 50 laps remaining and never looked back en route to his first career victory.
*Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:*
*1. How did the debuting drivers fare Saturday night?*
Saturday night’s American Ethanol 200 featured four drivers that made their Camping World Truck Series debuts. But how did Iowa Speedway treat those drivers as they attempted to make their mark on the series and NASCAR in general?
*Augie Grill – No. 4 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet*
Augie Grill made his first career start in a fourth truck fielded by Turner Motorsports. After starting 20th, he ran inside the top 20 until contact with Jason White caused damage to the front end of his truck, forcing him to pit for repairs. And though those repairs were completed, a faulty battery left him to settle for a 27th-place finish.
*Ryan Lynch – No. 27 Hillman Racing Chevrolet*
Ryan Lynch started his first Truck Series race in 27th but didn’t even make it to lap 25 before he spun on his own. Though it looked like he might be able to save his truck from any damage, Lynch stuck the nose of his No. 27 Chevrolet into the inside wall and was forced to the garage for repairs. Though he did manage to get back on track, Lynch finished 29th, 27 laps off the pace.
*Ben Reynolds – No. 26 Family-Owned Chevrolet*
Ben Reynolds started 35th Saturday night after posting a lap that was 12 miles per hour slower than the polesitter. Thanks to that lack of speed, it wasn’t long before the driver of the No. 26 Chevrolet found himself a lap down. He never was a threat for running inside the top 20, however he did manage to stay out of trouble and keep his truck in one piece; Reynolds finished 26th, six laps down.
*Drew Herring – No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota*
Drew Herring qualified 17th and was the highest starting debuting driver. And despite struggling a bit in the early going, pit strategy allowed the 25-year-old to restart out front following the second caution. He led 19 laps before being overtaken by Justin Lofton. Though he dropped back in the running, Herring did make some impressive passes on the track before settling into a solid seventh-place result.
Drew Herring clearly stood out behind the wheel of his No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports-fielded machine. Having led some laps and scored a solid top-10 result, Herring could have a future in the Truck Series, provided the team can find enough funding to field the truck full-time for him. As for the other debuting drivers, they’re probably already counting down to their next start so they can forget how Iowa worked out.
But perhaps the more important thing to take away from the debuts at Iowa Speedway is that there are still plenty of young talented drivers for NASCAR teams to tap into. Assuming they open their eyes and realize what’s out there, the sport can continue to thrive as veterans across all three series age.
*2. Should the Truck Series be considering any tracks without SAFER barriers?*
According to a report from “Jeff Hood on RacinToday.com,”:http://www.racintoday.com/archives/38180 NASCAR is considering allowing a couple of short tracks onto the 2013 schedule _without_ the added safety benefit of SAFER barriers around the track. Auton spoke about next year’s schedule at Iowa Speedway earlier in the weekend.
Also according to the same report, Auton confirmed the rumor that next year’s Truck Series schedule will feature at least one road course race, though he wouldn’t name those facilities in the running. At this point, NASCAR doesn’t have a specific date they expect to release the schedule due to ongoing negotiations with tracks.
Regardless of what that report from the University of Nebraska says, I don’t agree with the addition of tracks without SAFER barriers. Sure drivers at local short tracks do it on a weekly basis, but they also run at speeds considerably lower than the Truck Series does. In fact, Saturday night at Iowa Speedway, SPEED broadcaster Michael Waltrip noted the importance of those SAFER barriers when Timothy Peters smacked the outside wall after contact with Matt Crafton.
“The big deal about hitting the wall here at Iowa–SAFER barriers all the way around,” Waltrip said.
“Peters pounded into the wall, but that’s a SAFER barrier. It moved and helped that truck from having more damage than it did.”
But one thing Waltrip didn’t consider in that comment was the safety aspect the SAFER barriers bring to the track. So many times across all of NASCAR’s top three series, drivers have been spared more serious injuries thanks to the amount of room the walls have to give with that layer of foam.
Granted a big difference comes with the size of the tracks and that’s likely something that’s being considered very carefully, however a driver’s safety is definitely not something you mess around with. The sanctioning body has come so far in the last ten years for ensuring more safety in an inherently dangerous sport, and allowing a couple of tracks on the schedule without SAFER barriers could spell disaster in the future. I just hope I’m wrong about that.
*Truck Rookie Report*
*2012 Rookie of the Year Candidates:*
*Dakoda Armstrong* (No. 98)
*Ty Dillon* (No. 3)
*Dusty Davis* (No. 15)
*T.J. Duke* (No. 07)
*Ross Chastain* (No. 08)
*Cale Gale* (No. 33)
*Max Gresham *(No. 24–released from ride)
*Paulie Harraka* (No. 5–team suspended)
*Caleb Holman* (No. 75)
*John King* (No. 7–team suspended)
*Bryan Silas* (No. 99)
*John Wes Townley* (No. 09)
*No. of Rookies in the Race:* 15 (add Ryan Blaney, David Mayhew, Jeff Choquette, Justin Jennings, Brennan Newberry, Caleb Roark, and debuting drivers Augie Grill, Ryan Lynch, Ben Reynolds and Drew Herring)
*No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10:* 5; Ryan Blaney, finished first; Ty Dillon, finished second; Cale Gale, finished fifth; Drew Herring, finished seventh; Jeff Choquette, finished eighth
*Rookie of the Race:* Ty Dillon, finished second
_Author’s Note: Only drivers that have declared to run for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year are eligible to receive the rookie of the race award._
“This is pretty incredible. It’s unbelievable. I’ve got to thank Cooper Standard, Reese Towpower, Draw-Tite, and Brad Keselowski for giving me this opportunity. Doug (Randolph, Crew Chief) made some great calls there at the end. These guys are incredible. They’ve really worked with me here for these few short races. [It's] great my Dad could come out. He flew in from Chicago [Saturday night] and half my family in here in the stands. It’s really, really cool to have them here. It’s very cool and hopefully we can get some more.” _Ryan Blaney_
“I wanted it bad there at the end. We were coming, but Ryan Blaney, he’s an amazing driver. I’m glad we didn’t have to race against him all year this year. He’s a great guy, and he really deserves this.” _Ty Dillon, finished second_
“Pretty solid run tonight. Man, I can’t thank all these guys–Eric Phillips (Crew Chief) and everybody on this No. 18 Dollar General Toyota tonight, especially all of the other affiliates of KBM. Man it was an up and down night. I put us behind the eight-ball tonight in qualifying and it was just all about track position. We had a really fast truck on long runs, and we just couldn’t get anything tonight–it was all short runs. Gotta thank everybody at KBM–Kyle (Busch, team owner), Rick Ren (general manager) and Eric Phillips and everybody for giving me this opportunity. I really enjoyed it and hopefully I’ll get to go back and do it again.” _Drew Herring, finished seventh_
“We were always pretty solid tonight. We were struggling a little bit being a little bit free getting into the corner, but once we got that solved we were good. It’s unfortunate what happened on pit road, but the important thing is we got this thing out of here in one piece and we’ll have it for Kentucky. This is a really good truck. I’ve got faith in these guys, and we’ll get everything together and we’ll go to Kentucky and we’ll get us a good one.” _John Wes Townley, finished 15th_
*Worth Noting / Points Shuffle:*
Ryan Blaney became the youngest Camping World Truck Series winner Friday night. The previous record was set by Kyle Busch at Charlotte in 2005 at the age of 20 years and 18 days. When he took the checkered flag Saturday night at Iowa, Blaney was 18 years, eight months and 15 days, a record that will likely be difficult to beat considering drivers are required to be at least 18 years of age before making a start in NASCAR.
Jeff Choquette made his second series start behind the wheel of the No. 97 Adrian Carriers Chevrolet. In his debut at Iowa Speedway earlier this year, the 26-year-old started 17th and ended up 11th. Saturday night, he started the American Ethanol 200 18th and ran as high as second before settling into an eventual eighth-place finish.
Ty Dillon, up two spots, now sits atop the championship standings for the first time this year; he holds an eight point lead over Timothy Peters, who dropped one position. James Buescher dropped to third and now sits 11 markers out of the lead. Parker Kligerman remains third, 31 points behind the leader, and Matt Crafton, jumped two spots following his third consecutive ninth-place finish and rounds out the top 5.
Joey Coulter remains sixth, just three points behind Crafton. Justin Lofton dropped two spots following his first DNF this year. Nelson Piquet, Jr. remains eighth, and Jason White jumped to ninth, 113 markers behind the leader. Ron Hornaday, Jr. dropped one position and rounds out the top 10 after his third DNF this year.
“It was awesome. How about Ryan Blaney? I mean, is that kid a chip off the old block? I think he’s better than his dad (Dave Blaney). That’s awesome. I’m happy for him and happy for Brad (Keselowski) and all of those guys. I know how hard they’ve worked to get to this point. It’s a hard deal, but we’ve got a great team. We weren’t really good in the beginning [of the race] and Rick (Gay, Crew Chief) made some great adjustments and we ended up being good. It’s a good night, man. Hopefully we’ve finally got this monkey off our back.” _Todd Bodine, finished third_
“Just a crazy night pit strategy-wise. I’m proud of everybody at ThorSport on our Hot Honeys Curb Records Toyota. We had a great truck and one time there we were 19th and we got back up tot the lead there through the way the [pit] cycles were. Then, the next thing I know we’re 18th again. Just ran out of time. Super proud of everybody at ThorSport.” _Johnny Sauter, finished fourth_
“Man, it was just a pleasure to watch him drive tonight. He was on it. The Cooper Standard RAM was solid all night. The guys on pit road did a great job. I feel great for Ryan and his family. My first crew chiefing gig was with his dad so I feel really close to the family and it’s exciting to see this.” _Doug Randolph, winning crew chief_
“I really can’t say enough about this Red Horse Racing team. Our Tundra had such a great run going. I thought we had it, but that’s racing. The right rear tire blew and the spin after than caused more damage. But this team is too good to not get a win soon, there’s no doubt about that. I’m proud of their effort and how fast this Tundra was. We will just have to get them next weekend at Kentucky. If you don’t think this team is a contender for this NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, then you’re not paying attention.” _Parker Kligerman, finished 23rd after leading a race-high 107 laps_
*Up Next:* The Camping World Truck Series heads to Kentucky Speedway next Friday night for the Kentucky 201. The race will be broadcast live on SPEED beginning at 7:00 PM ET; it can also be heard on your “local MRN affiliate”:http://www.motorracingnetwork.com/Affiliates/Affiliates.aspx#showFindStations or SiriusXM Channel 90.