NEWTON — Character. Drivers and NASCAR officials talk of tracks with character and Iowa Speedway has one of those surfaces.
Tuesday, NASCAR Nationwide Series teams were on the Speedway track from morning to early evening testing the surface. There were multiple runs by drivers throughout the seven-hour testing period, gathering information for Iowa Speedway’s “Wide-Opening Weekend”, May 17-18, featuring the Nationwide Series Get to Know Newton 250.
“As Iowans know, we experienced an unusually cold winter this year,” said Jimmy Small, Iowa Speedway track president. “Some areas on the race track underwent repair and as a result we worked with NASCAR to conduct this one-day test – what we like to call our own version of spring training – to be sure the track is ready and teams are prepared so we can put on an exciting show for our fans during ‘Wide-Opening Weekend.’”
NASCAR Nationwide Series Managing Director Wayne Auton said all the teams were allowed to come out Tuesday, bring one car and as many drivers as they wanted. Nationwide teams were allowed to vote on two races to have an “Day Early” and Iowa Speedway was the biggest vote getter. Nationwide teams will be back for “Day Early” testing run on Friday, May 16.
“Today is more about the race track. When Jimmy told us about spots on the race track needing attention, we wanted to come here and test the repairs,” Auton said. “Normally, when we come here for a race, we have to do some track maintenance during the week.”
Auton said Tuesday’s testing had two purposes: to make sure the repairs could withstand the pressure of the cars and it was a confirmation test of the Goodyear tires recommended for the teams to run on at Iowa Speedway.
“So far we’ve been very pleased with what we’ve seen today. The track has responded well in the morning session. We’re suppose to have warmer temperatures this afternoon, which will give us a good indication on temperature changes on the track,” Auton said.
Following the morning session, Sam Hornish Jr., Trevor Bayne, Brian Scott and Brad Keselowski spoke about the testing and the Iowa track.
“The biggest thing for coming here was to see the new patches, to see the race track and to see how it aged over the winter. It’s gonna [sic] be great,” said Bayne, driver of the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing AdvoCare Ford Fusion. “We drove around here this morning; the track seems really good as usual. It is still bumpy but that makes for great racing and multiple lines so we’re excited to get back here to Iowa.”
Bayne is looking for his second straight Nationwide Series win at Iowa. He won last June’s Nationwide Series race at the Speedway.
Keselowski, who will not be driving in the Get to Know Newton 250 but won the Nationwide Series race here last August, said he was driving the No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang Tuesday to gather information for teammate Ryan Blaney, who had another commitment.
“I like this facility a lot for a number of reasons. It has a great balance between what the drivers like and the fans like. The drivers like it because you can run and not spin out for no reason and they like the smaller tracks but not too small,” Keselowski said.
“I think a lot of people enjoy tracks with character and I associate Iowa as one of those tracks,” Scott said. He drives the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro.
Nationwide rookie and current series leader Chase Elliott, driver of the JR Motorsports No. 9 Chevrolet Camero was out testing too on Tuesday. Elliott said the track “is the same Iowa Speedway track and I’m looking forward to racing here in less than two weeks.”