This past Sunday, the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) raced at Iowa Speedway for the season’s third race at a short track. Heading into the weekend, there were some driver swaps that brought a fresh, new perspective on the team’s equipment.
Tyler Matthews, driver of the No. 15 Linetec Services Chevrolet, made his second career NXS start at Iowa, a track very similar to that where he made his debut at Richmond earlier this season. Matthews drove a smart race, after starting from the 33rd position, he made it his goal to run all the laps and gain as much experience as possible. By the end of Stage 1, he was scored in 23rd, and at the conclusion of Stage 2, he had worked his way up to 20th place.
Despite bringing a caution due to slight contact with the wall during Stage 3, Matthews was able to rally back and bring his Camaro home with an impressive 20th place finish. Of the two races ran so far, this is his best finish yet. Matthews will be back in the No. 15 Chevrolet for more races later in the season, with his growing racing schedule expected to be unveiled soon.
Ryan Repko, driver of the No. 01 The McLain Group Chevrolet, made his series debut at Iowa, and like Matthews, made it his goal to run as many laps as possible and gain some valuable experience racing these faster cars than what he is used to. Prior to this race, he had two ARCA Menards Series starts to his name, but he primarily races late model stock cars throughout the Southeast. Repko seemed to adjust well to the heavier NXS car, and he showed it during Sunday’s race.
Repko qualified his Chevrolet in 32nd position, but ran right around his JDM teammates early on. At the end of Stage 1, he was 22nd, then he finished Stage 2 off consistently in 23rd. Unfortunate timing for cautions hindered the No. 01 team, putting him multiple laps down, but at the end of the day, there was not one scratch on the car, marking his debut a success. Ryan will be back in the No. 01 for more races later on in the season as well.
Stephen Leicht vacated his normal No. 01 Chevrolet seat and hopped over to the No. 4 SEM Chevrolet for the first time this season at Iowa. Leicht rolled off from the 22nd position to start the race, and ran consistently within the Top 20 for the majority of the afternoon. He ended up 25th at the end of Stage 1, but jumped up to 19th in Stage 2. Just as he started to work his way up into the 10th-15th range, disaster struck.
On lap 204, the brake pedal went soft on his car, leaving him with little to no brakes left. This issue put the No. 4 out of the race early, coming home with a 25th place finish. This finish actually moves Leicht up one spot in points, now sitting 21st, just 10 markers out of the Top 20.
Bad luck stuck once again for Garrett Smithley and the No. 0 JD Motorsports Chevrolet this weekend. After qualifying the car in the 25th spot, Smithley and the #NumberNuthin crew appeared to have one of the better runs of the season going. He was 19th at the end of Stage 1, and remained on the lead lap throughout most of Stage 2. Just as it seemed that his bad luck streak was all but behind him, a violent vibration on lap 106 forced him to come down pit road.
As it turns out, the vibration came from a wheel stud that had been sheared off during a pit cycle, which immediately put Smithley out of the race. Thankfully, there was not any significant damage to the racecar, but this marks the third race in a row where Garrett has had mechanical issues take him out of contention early on. He now drops down a couple spots in the points standings to 18th.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series has an off weekend this week, but will be back in action on Saturday, June 29th, at Chicagoland Speedway for the running of the Camping World 300. Always a race known for its blistering heat and wore out track surface, drivers will find themselves pushed to the limits of endurance – both mentally and physically. Be sure to tune into NBCSN, for the first time this season, at 3:30 PM ET to see live coverage of the race. For all things JDM, follow along on our social media pages @JDMotorsports01. #TeamJDM