NASCAR: The track many drivers love, but isn’t on the schedule

Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

In the middle of the heartland, there is a NASCAR-owned track that has not gotten its time in the spotlight. That track is Iowa Speedway.

Construction of Iowa Speedway was completed in 2006. The Newton, Iowa track is located about 38 miles away from the state’s capital, Des Moines.

This 7/8-mile oval has the nickname “The Fastest Short Track on The Planet”, which is exactly what track designer and NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace envisioned.

Iowa Speedway has played host to many events and races since its completion in 2006. With a capacity of 30,000, the track has hosted everything from concerts to NASCAR-sanctioned races.

The ARCA Menards Series has raced at Iowa Speedway since 2006, save for 2014, and there have been many big names who have won at the track in that series, including current Cup Series drivers Alex Bowman, Ty Dillon, and Chase Briscoe.

In 2009, the Truck Series competed at the fast short track for the first time. Iowa Speedway was on the series schedule every year through 2019, and current Cup Series drivers Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, and William Byron all found victory lane.

It was on the initial schedule again in 2020, but due to COVID-19-related restrictions, the 2020 race was moved to the Daytona International Speedway road course.

The series has not returned to Iowa Speedway since.

That hasn’t stopped drivers from voicing their opinions on the matter. In 2021, the series raced at Knoxville Raceway for the first time. Knoxville Raceway is located roughly 29 miles south of Iowa Speedway.

After the 2021 race at the former, Sheldon Creed had this to say.

The Xfinity Series started racing at Iowa Speedway the same year as the Truck Series in 2009 and even added a second race at the track in 2011. Current Cup Series drivers Blaney, Jones, Byron, Briscoe, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chris Buescher, and Christopher Bell all found victory lane.

Many drivers praised Iowa Speedway, including Busch.

But just like it was for the Truck Series, the pandemic was the reason why the Xfinity Series stopped coming to Iowa Speedway. The two races scheduled to take place there in 2020 were moved to Kansas Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway, and the series has no plans to return to the track.

The Cup Series has never raced at Iowa Speedway and has no plans to do so in the future. The only NASCAR series that still has the track on the schedule is the ARCA Menards Series.

But there is one big racing series that has made the trip to Newton every year since 2007, save for 2021, and that series is the NTT IndyCar Series.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, who is in his first full season competing in IndyCar, just tested at Iowa Speedway earlier this week. Johnson only had good things to say about the track in a post-testing interview.

“It drives really well,” he said. “It doesn’t matter the series that competes on it.”

So, with all of this praise from some of the best drivers in the world, why won’t NASCAR put Iowa Speedway on the schedule?

One reason could be the small market size. Although Iowa Speedway is only about 38 miles from Des Moines, the state’s biggest city, Newton only has a population of approximately 15,000.

With a market size that small, the promotion efforts need to be flawless. One bright side of the track’s future is the HyVee IndyCar Race Weekend, which is scheduled to take place next month (Friday, July 22 to Sunday, July 24).

The promotion team is putting on a show for the weekend IndyCar comes to town. They have booked four concerts featuring some of the biggest names in music, including Tim McGraw, Florida Georgia Line, Gwen Stefani, and Blake Shelton.

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Hopefully the success of the promotions leading up to the IndyCar races at Iowa Speedway can show NASCAR that there are not only a lot of race fans in Iowa, but that NASCAR belongs at Iowa Speedway.