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NASCAR DFS: Iowa Corn 350 Preview

Last week’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma was eventful. For DFS specifically, it was brutal. Denny Hamlin’s engine gave up in the first few laps. Ty Gibbs’ day ended early as well. William Byron broke a toe link. Kyle Busch didn’t get the finish he deserved after being spun late. Even Martin Truex Jr. needed over three minutes to complete the final lap after he ran out of fuel. All in all, it was ugly and one of those weeks I wanted to throw in the towel and quit playing NASCAR DFS. But alas, we push forward and perhaps it’s not a bad idea to go light this week. NASCAR’s introducing a new track with Iowa Speedway making the 2024 schedule. Here is this week’s NASCAR DFS Iowa Corn 350 preview!

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Iowa Corn 350

Iowa Speedway measures in at 7/8 of a mile. It’ll likely be regarded as a flat track. I do think there are some comparisons we can draw to Richmond Raceway. Richmond is just a similar flat track measuring less than a mile and the banking at both tracks is similar. Richmond does experience more tire wear than most tracks on the NASCAR schedule. However, Iowa is no spring chicken. The track opened back in September of 2006 and IndyCar has run plenty of races here since opening, but some parts of the track did undergo a repave ahead of this race so it may take a while for grip to come into effect. Other tracks that are somewhat comparable are Phoenix and New Hampshire. Fortunately, we can still anticipate drivers that should do well here as part of the Iowa Corn 350 preview.


Iowa Corn 350 Preview: The Top Plays

Denny Hamlin (#11 Toyota)

Hamlin desperately needs a bounce-back performance. After blowing his engine early in last week’s race, he needs a good run. On similar tracks, such as these shorter flat-ish ovals, few are better than Hamlin and his team. Hamlin has finished first or second in five of the last seven races at Richmond. He’s routinely a threat at Martinsville as well. How the track performs following the repave is the big concern regarding Hamlin. The engine failure at Sonoma ended a run of six straight top-five finishes for Hamlin. But all three of his wins this year (four if you count the L.A. Coliseum) have come on tracks measuring one mile in length or less.

Christopher Bell (#20 Toyota)

I thought about putting Truex in this section. However, with the rumors that he may retire at the end of the season, I’m just trying to figure out if he’s fully invested and mentally in it this year. The speed has been great. The finishes have been lacking though. So I’m giving the nod to Bell for inclusion as a top play for the Iowa Corn 350 preview. Way back in 2018 and 2019, the NASCAR Xfinity Series would race in June and July at this track. In those four races in that 13-month window, Bell won two of those races and finished as the runner-up in the others. Moreover, he completed the tire test at Iowa within the last couple of months and he has wins on comparable tracks like New Hampshire and Phoenix.

Kyle Larson (#5 Chevrolet)

Larson hasn’t looked great at the comparable tracks this year. However, the speed has been there. Additionally, he ran the tire test at Iowa alongside Bell and Brad Keselowski. So, he’s aware that grip may take some time coming into effect. Sure, he has momentum coming off Sonoma. But he led 144 laps at Richmond earlier this year and followed that up with 86 laps led at Martinsville. His results on the comparable tracks were solid last year and as always, we’re talking about Kyle Larson. He can show up and win any given week.

Iowa Corn 350 Preview: Wouldn’t Bet Against Them

Martin Truex Jr. (#19 Toyota)

I alluded to him in the Bell section. Alas, I couldn’t bring myself to leave him out of the article entirely. From what we’ve seen on tracks like Richmond, New Hampshire, and Phoenix we have to imagine he, along with the rest of JGR, can bounce back this week. We saw him lead over 200 laps at Richmond earlier this year, just a few weeks after he led 55 laps at Phoenix. He won last year’s race at New Hampshire and has led 426 laps in the last two races at that track. On this type of oval, he’s just too good to pass up. He is on a bit of a cold streak as it’s been over a month since his last top 10 finish. But this is a track where he can right the ship.

Joey Logano (#22 Ford)

This one is more of a gut call. Maybe we consider it superstition. Logano doesn’t have a win yet, but weirdly enough, he tends to show up for NASCAR “firsts.” When NASCAR ran North Wilkesboro this year for the first time since the track was legitimately repaved, Logano won the pole and led all but one lap. Last week for Sonoma’s repave? He won the pole. Back in 2022, the first time they ran the L.A. Coliseum? Well, he won that race and followed that up winning the first Cup Series race at Gateway. Bristol Dirt? You guessed it. Logano won the first race. It’s bizarre and there’s no rhyme or reason to it. But when it comes to NASCAR trying new things, Logano tends to thrive.

Bubba Wallace (#23 Toyota)

Wallace is tricky because it’s mostly the speed and overall performance data we like. He does struggle with finishes at times. To his credit, he finished third and eighth the last two years at New Hampshire. Wallace even managed to lead 80 laps last summer at Richmond. Remember, this team is owned by Denny Hamlin. And we like Hamlin along with a few other Toyota’s for this race. Wallace is normally a superspeedway and intermediate track driver. But the speed and overall performance on the shorter flat tracks has steadily been improving. And while I won’t give this too much weight, he did previously race here in the Truck and Xfinity Series. Technically, he may have the most experience at this track.

The Sleepers and Values

Josh Berry (#4 Ford)

Berry won’t come with the secret experience of Bubba Wallace. Nor did he run the tire test at this track earlier in the year. But he does come from a background where he thrives on the shorter, flat tracks. Last Spring at Richmond, pit strategy greatly benefitted him as he started P30 and finished second running Chase Elliott’s car. Then this year he finished 11th after starting P30 once again. He grabbed a top 10 last spring at Phoenix and has had some correlating success on these tracks since his time in the Xfinity Series. He’s not an awful play for a driver who has flashed upside and is looking for a ride for 2025.

Chase Briscoe (#14 Ford)

It is time to pivot to Berry’s teammate, Chase Briscoe. Remember how we mentioned Christopher Bell’s Xfinity Series success at this track? Well, Briscoe won one of those races that Bell did not. Briscoe has three top 10 finishes at this track from the Xfinity Series, but again those were nearly five years ago and were prior to the repave. Briscoe did grab top 10 finishes at Richmond and Martinsville from earlier this year and he was top 10 last year at New Hampshire. And we can’t forget that Phoenix is historically one of his best tracks. This may not be such a bad week to look to SHR for some cheap options with top-10 equity.

Todd Gilliland (#38 Ford)

Gilliland won’t go out and win this race by any means. But we should mention his recent form. Has he dodged bullets and benefitted from chaos? Yes, especially last week when he grabbed a top 10 at Sonoma. But over the last handful of races, he’s kept the car clean and finished well given the expectations surrounding Front Row Motorsports. Earlier in the year he was 17th at Phoenix and 13th at Martinsville. But he also grabbed top 15 finishes at Kansas and Darlington while finishing 16th at Gateway and 17th at Charlotte (a shortened race). These really aren’t bad performances for a driver routinely priced under $6,000 on DraftKings. If he qualifies poorly, which he certainly can do, he’s not an awful value play for cash games and tournaments.

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