Iowa gets first-ever NASCAR Cup Series date, to Brad Keselowski’s delight

NEWTON, IA - JULY 27: Christopher Bell, driver of the #20 Rheem Toyota, lead the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Xfinity Series U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway on July 27, 2019 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

Iowa Speedway will be making its first appearance on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule in 2024, NASCAR announced Tuesday.

‘The Fastest Short Track on the Planet’ will host NASCAR’s biggest stars in the summertime, on Sunday, June 16th at 6 pm CT for an evening race. Xfinity and ARCA Series racing will also provide support for the weekend as NASCAR’s 2024 schedule comes together piece-by-piece.

The track has hosted IndyCar racing since its creation in 2006, as well as NASCAR Xfinity and Truck racing until 2019, having been bought out by NASCAR in 2013. However, the .875-mile short track has stubbornly remained off the Cup Series schedule until now despite pleas for a race.

“Today’s announcement is an exciting one for NASCAR and for race fans in the state of Iowa,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Racing Development and Strategy. “They have long sought a NASCAR Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway, and we’re happy to deliver that for them. We fully expect this to be one of the most highly anticipated dates on the 2024 schedule and an amazing weekend of NASCAR racing in The Hawkeye State.”

Among those campaigning for the race has long been the Iowa state government. Governor Kim Reynolds said he’s looking forward to welcoming NASCAR and its fans to his state.

“The things Iowans value most are what NASCAR represents best—hard work, family, and community—which is exactly why our partnership has always been a natural fit,” Reynolds said. “We’re thrilled to bring a NASCAR Cup Series race to Iowa Speedway next summer and for this incredible opportunity to introduce millions of racing fans to our great state.”

NEWTON, IA – JULY 27: Chase Briscoe, driver of the #98 Ford Performance Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Xfinity Series U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway on July 27, 2019 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

Drivers, too, have been hoping to see racing at the track, none more so than Brad Keselowski, who joined NASCAR and Iowa state officials on the steps of the Iowa State Capitol for the announcement. He’s been a longtime advocate for racing at the track, having won the first-ever Xfinity Series event at the track. He went on to win twice more at the racetrack.

“To see it come together is you know, I’m just really happy for everybody that’s worked so hard for,” Keselowski told CupScene.

“It’s a kind of a great story, but you know, then, then I like the track personally myself, you know, having won there three times the next for series and once as a, an owner in the truck series, I can’t wait to go back and hopefully win again.

“So we’re all really, really pumped for this announcement and I’m sure the fans and community are too every time we go to this racetrack. You know, there’s so many fans that show up with a lot of energy and it’s, it’s really an exciting time.”

As for why he thinks Iowa should get a Cup date, Keselowski said it’s more than just being a track he knows he can win at.

“Well, I always look at a couple things,” Keselowski said of his reasoning. You know, I look at the quality of racing. I, I look at the community around the racetrack and how they embrace and, and I look at the, the community as a, as a large of whether they are excited about an event. And I think those three things kind of aggregate together to me to make an event to seem like it’s, it’s a big deal or not. And, and this one I think has in this instance all three of those things.”

“It’s just the embrace for the community from the top down, you know, from the governor making time out of her day to, to be a part of the announcement to the race fans that showed up. But it, it just shows Claire what, you know, how big a deal this is to this community,” he concluded.

NEWTON, IOWA – JUNE 16: Brett Moffitt, driver of the #24 Destiny Homes Smart Series Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Gander Truck Series M&M’s 200 Presented by Casey’s General Store at Iowa Speedway on June 16, 2019 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Another driver excited for the prospect is former driver Rusty Wallace, a NASCAR Hall of Famer and Iowa Speedway’s co-founder and designer.

“This is a dream come true,” Wallace said. “This track was built with the intent of hosting a NASCAR Cup Series race one day, and to finally see it come together is a testament to the tenacity of the great race fans in Iowa.”

Of the Cup Series drivers who plan to compete next year, 19 have found victory at Iowa in some level of NASCAR racing, so the track is well-known and popular throughout the garage.

Plus, the support is so broad that a sponsor is already on board: Iowa Corn will be the entitlement sponsor for the first Cup Series event at the track.

“Iowa Corn is no stranger to racing and the Iowa Speedway as we helped introduce farmer produced biofuels to consumers through race sponsorships for a dozen years,” shared Craig Floss, Chief Executive Officer of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.

“By bringing the NASCAR Cup Series to Iowa, farmers are able to showcase the power and performance of Sunoco Green E15 at the fastest short track on the planet, which is surrounded by corn fields, the very source of that amazing, renewable, homegrown and affordable biofuel.”

If the excitement around the launch is any indication, the inaugural Cup Series event at Iowa will generate plenty of attention. Fans will get to see NASCAR’s best take on one of the country’s most challenging short tracks in a hunt for a Playoff berth as the season draws to a close. Where Iowa fits specifically will be clear when NASCAR releases the full 2024 schedule, expected shortly.

Owen Johnson