Should Iowa Speedway be on the Cup Series calendar?
Once the current track deals run out in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, one track NASCAR will be taking a very close look at will be the Iowa Speedway.
The .875-mile track based in Newton, IA, was designed by Rusty Wallace and heavily based off Richmond Raceway. And like Richmond, drivers love the track for its different racing grooves at any given time, opening up to various driving styles.
The track opened in 2009 and was awarded with a Camping World Truck and XFINITY Series date. In 2011, the track secured an extra XFINITY date, leading to talks of eventually taking the next step forward like Kentucky Speedway had done in the recent past.
There are two major factors going against Iowa getting on a Cup schedule. One is seating capacity and location. Though most Cup tracks have taken seats down in recent years, no track has quite gotten down to Iowa’s level yet. At 30,000 seats, it would be by far the smallest track in Cup in the last 30 years, 16,000 seats less than Homestead. It’s also just not in a very big market at all.
The other is, well, the owners. NASCAR itself owns Iowa, a unique situation as just about every racetrack on the Cup level is owned by either International Speedway Corporation or Speedway Motorsports Inc. ISC is basically the public arm of NASCAR, so the France family isn’t going to make shareholders mad by taking a date away from them in favor of themselves. On the other hand, taking a date away from SMI or Dover Motorsports or Pocono would likely lead to an anti-trust lawsuit.
Could Iowa host a Cup race eventually? Maybe, but there are a lot of hurdles it would need to get around. Perhaps hosting a mid-week NASCAR All-Star Race in the summer would be a good first step.
What is the state of the XFINITY Series?
After many years, it seems the NASCAR XFINITY Series has finally found a bit of a niche.
Are they still Cup Jr.? Yes. Do Cup drivers continue to dominate whenever they enter? Yes. Is there still no race at Martinsville Speedway? Sadly, yes.
But the quality of the racing itself seems to be great whenever there isn’t a Kyle Busch or Brad Keselowski in the field. And with there being talk about even more sanctions against Cup drivers in XFINITY, the quality of the racing should only continue to improve.
There are two potential problems down the road, though. Outside of Toyota and Ford’s work with Ty Majeski and Cole Custer, there isn’t really a huge pipeline of talent that will replace who’s in the series now once they move up to Cup or lose their sponsor and leave.
Chevrolet got lucky and fell into three premier talents (Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, and William Byron) without even really trying. But it’s plain to see that GM needs to get more involved with developing young talent. Or else, XFINITY will morph into the Truck Series and have about 90 percent of the viable cars in the field be Camrys.
The other is the schedule. There are just four races next year that are not Cup companion events. That’s 29 companion events, five more races than the Trucks have all year. Companion events make sense, as it saves money for the teams and for television production, but there needs to be a little more variety than to just have two unique road courses and two Iowa races. And if Iowa gets a Cup date, what then? Something completely different to the series like Eldora would be a desperately needed change.
Where will Kenseth and Bayne end up next year?
For Kenseth, it’s going to be interesting to see what he does. He’ll be 47 next March and could still conceivably land a top ride to make one final championship push. He also will have raced in 14 races the year before, so he shouldn’t be too rusty.
On the other hand, there aren’t very many viable seats open this year. A quick scroll through Jayski’s team chart shows that a lot of the upcoming free agents like Elliott and Clint Bowyer are probably staying put right where they are. Ryan Newman‘s contract might be done after this year, but there’s no confirmation on that.
The No. 41 may be open, but it seems like Kurt Busch may be in that seat until Cole Custer is ready to move up to Cup. And CGR keeps things very tight to the chest, so who knows about their drivers or if they might even be interested in expanding to a third car?
Bayne is in an awkward situation. He has a committed sponsor in Advocare but hasn’t done a lot since winning the 2011 Daytona 500. He could return to Roush to drive the No. 6, but would he really? Especially with Kenseth racing in the final three races of the season. It may be in Bayne’s best interest to scale back and go back down to the XFINITY Series for a year or two.
Who is buying BK Racing?
The BK Racing saga may finally be coming to an end.
The trustee of BK Racing announced this week that they have finally found a buyer. Any sale would need to be approved by a court, which set no timetable for a decision.
Why would anybody buy BK Racing at this point? The charter holds no equity because of how easy it has been in recent years for owners to acquire one. The equipment has only been good enough to rank the team 35th among 36 chartered cars this year, Gray Gaulding, and it’s not like they have this massive sponsor. At this point, it might just be smarter for a prospective owner to just start a Cup team from the ground up.
Sure the upfront costs may be pretty big but buying BK Racing would leave a buyer with a lot of debt to eventually pay off. That big dark cloud should and probably has turned off a lot of potential buyers of the team. And who can really blame them at this point?
About the author
Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.
A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.