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Local Sports

NASCAR Sprint Cup racing at Iowa Speedway?

Iowa Speedway President Jimmy Small talks about recent buzz created from final weekend

Iowa Speedway President Jimmy Small stands with fans listening in on a NASCAR 
Xfinity Series drivers meeting before Saturday's U.S. Cellular 250 at the track. The 
race brought the question up again of when and if NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing 
will come to Iowa Speedway. Small addressed that question with the Newton Daily 
News Tuesday.
Iowa Speedway President Jimmy Small stands with fans listening in on a NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers meeting before Saturday's U.S. Cellular 250 at the track. The race brought the question up again of when and if NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing will come to Iowa Speedway. Small addressed that question with the Newton Daily News Tuesday.

“It is not being discussed,” Jimmy Small, Iowa Speedway President said. “I’ve never had a single conversation alluding to that possibility.”

The question of when is Iowa Speedway going to hold a NASCAR Sprint Cup race came bubbling back to the top over the weekend following the Speedway’s final race weekend of the 2015 season.

There was quite the buzz on social media from NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Saturday night. Those drivers took to Twitter after watching Ryan Blaney and the rest of the NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers compete in the U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway.

“We got a great race on Saturday night — which is no different than almost every race here — and all the (Sprint Cup) drivers were watching it. They want to race here. Our fans want that (Sprint Cup) race here. We want what our fans want, so obviously, we are in support of it,” Small said Tuesday afternoon.

A report by Foxsports.com Sunday delivered the buzz started Saturday night by NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers on Twitter watching Iowa Speedway’s NASCAR Xfinity Series U.S. Celluar 250. Those tweets included:

Kyle Larson @KyleLarsonRacin: “When are we going to get a Cup series race at @iowaspeedway @odsteve?

Ryan Truex @Ryan_Truex: “Cup date @iowaspeedway plz

Brad Keselowski@keselowski: “Great track, maybe the best racing in nascar. @RustyWallace did a great job when he laid it out.https://twitter.com/bballrudy/status

Dale Earnhardt Jr. @DaleJr: “Solid run & improved speed for @JRMotorsports @iowaspeedway tonight. That place looks fun. What track should we swap out to run Cup there?”

Joey Lagono@joeylogano: “Great racing at @iowaspeedway. Would like to run a Cup race there. Pumped for Greg and 22 team. @Blaney slacked on like 6 laps though ha.”

Those tweeted comments from drivers set off threads on each one’s Twitter accounts. All talking up Iowa Speedway in Newton and the caliber of racing produced by the 7/8-mile track, plus which currect Sprint Cup race moved from a track to make room for Iowa. 

Blaney outlasted the rest of the field in a race that went 260 laps for a green-white-checkered victory — on the second attempt. Small pointed out Sprint Cup drivers have seen the racing at Iowa and heard how drivers, owners and teams are treated at the race track along with the great fan support for racing at the Speedway.

Small said there is no realistic consideration being given to bringing a Sprint Cup race to Iowa. Small said he is going to Daytona next week to wrap up the final plans for Iowa Speedway’s 2016 season.

“It is not a part of our 2016 schedule, but who’s to say about the future. NASCAR and IndyCar do all of their scheduling on an annual basis,” Small said. “They have to because they go into major markets and want to avoid huge conflicts with other sporting and non-sporting events across the country.”

Small pointed out both sanctioning bodies do a great job of working with all the tracks in finding a way to fit the puzzle together. He said NASCAR has always been, and continues to be, really close to the drivers, owners and teams.

“It’s flattering to see the major drivers talk about how great our facility is and how wonderful people are treated while they are here. That’s a big tribute to our staff, the people and business in the community here and across the state,” Small said. “We are very proud to keep that tradition and reputation alive and well.

“All the talk is cool. Saturday’s race was awesome. We want our fans to know we’re not saying no to an opportunity, simply because, there has been no opportunity for Cup race coming here discussed.”

Small said if the day ever comes with the opportunity to hold a Sprint Cup race at Iowa Speedway, he and his staff are ready.

“I’m so proud of what we’ve done as a group here in less than two years. We have great support from the City of Newton and the state of Iowa. We have great fan support here, but..,” Small said, “it is out of our control.

“We’re going to focus on what we can control, the (racing) series which have given us fantastic racing and finishes here at Iowa Speedway and improving the fan experience around them.”

Small was named Iowa Speedway president a month after the France family announced NASCAR purchased the race track in November 2013. The 29-year-old Small took the reins of a race track for the first time in his career with NASCAR.

Small said he and NASCAR were very clear from the beginning that a Sprint Cup race was not part of the plan for Iowa Speedway. He said this investment was made by NASCAR because the Speedway was a great facility.

“This is a great town, which has been incredibly supportive since Iowa Speedway opened. NASCAR wanted to ensure we had racing here for the longterm,” Small said. “The core part of our vision was for this place to be the venue of all venues, the race track of all race tracks with respect to the fan experience.”

A year ago in his mid-season state of the sport address at Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR chairman/CEO Brian France said Iowa Speedway was not on the radar for a Sprint Cup race.

“On Iowa, we don’t have plans for a Cup date there,” France said. “We’re working with the state representatives and others to help us build racing in Iowa to the highest level that we can. They’re doing a great job with us, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the entire effort that the communities have made in and around Iowa.”

France said Iowa had a nice full schedule with IndyCar and Xfinity, and believed that’s where it would remain.

Small said the Speedway staff was focused on NASCAR’s vision for the facility to be its shining example of the customer/fan experience. He said he believed they are accomplishing that vision in pushing the limits on the fan experience and the amount of value delivered back to the fans.

“Everyone wants to know what our schedule is — so do we. We hope to have as soon as we can,” Small said. “I’m excited about several ideas for the 2016 season, but we have to get our core events scheduled before we announce anything else.”

Small’s trip to Daytona next week is one step closer to finding out the Speedway’s 2016 slate.

Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or jsheets@newtondailynews.com

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