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June 13, 2024

NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to an oval after Kiwi domination

Shane van Gisbergen celebrates in Sonoma's Victory Lane
Meg Oliphant
Getty Images

If the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ first trip to Iowa Speedway since 2019 will be a tutorial of sorts for New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen, it’s familiar and welcome territory for Justin Allgaier, who will compete there for the 17th time in Saturday’s Hy-Vee PERKS 250 (3:30 p.m. ET, USA Network, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Van Gisbergen, a three-time Australian Supercars champion, is fresh from back-to-back victories on road courses at Portland International Raceway and Sonoma Raceway, but the Kiwi has never won on an oval and hasn’t posted a top 10 on an oval track since his sixth-place finish at Phoenix Raceway in the fourth race of the season.

Understandably, van Gisbergen will need to sharpen his skills on conventional NASCAR tracks during the remaining regular-season races to be a contender for the championship. Only one road course, the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course, is included in the list of playoff circuits.

RELATED: Xfinity Series standings | Xfinity Series schedule

Allgaier, on the other hand, is an adept road racer as well as a perennial contender on Xfinity ovals, and in the field for Saturday’s race, only Jeremy Clements (19) and Joey Gase (17) have more Iowa starts.

The No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet pilot has scored 12 top 10s in his 16 starts at the 0.875-mile track, with a win in 2018 and three other top fives to his credit there.

Already locked into the Xfinity Series Playoffs with a victory at Darlington Raceway, Allgaier can add to his current total of 15 Playoff points (bolstered by a whopping 10 stage wins) with a victory at Iowa.

“I’m really looking forward to our return to Iowa this weekend,” Allgaier said. “This has always been one of my favorite tracks, and it’s great to be going back there.

“JRM was always really strong (there), and I see no reason why we won’t have that same speed again when we unload for practice on Friday. Hopefully, we can have a smooth weekend and be fighting for the win on Saturday.”

MORE: Iowa schedule

The only variable Allgaier hasn’t faced at Iowa is the partially repaved surface — a necessity given the age and degradation of the original asphalt there.