Haase is Quickest in Opening Iowa CW Series Practice
Ryan Preece's Series Debut Weekend Ends Early
Alex Haase doesn’t have fond memories of his experience at Iowa Speedway last year.
“We just struggled all week,” Haase said of last year’s NASCAR Camping World Series race at Iowa where he started 41st and finished 27th.
He’s feeling much better about the 7/8-mile track following Saturday’s 1 ½-hour practice for Sunday’s US Cellular 200. Haase (No. 51 Kyle Busch Foundation/Electric Sunglasses Chevrolet) posted the fastest time at 23.971 seconds (131.409 mph). He was one-thousands of a second faster than fellow teenager Austin Dillon (No. 3 Garage Equipment Supply Chevrolet) at 23.972 (131.403).
“We tested here a couple weeks ago,” Haase said. “That makes a big difference – knowing what we’ve got; we’ve just had to change minimal stuff. And that paid off.”
The 18-year-old Haase was runner-up for NASCAR Camping World Series West Sunoco Rookie of the Year last season. He moved from his native Las Vegas to North Carolina and is running a regional Late Model series in the southeast for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Haase’s Iowa effort is being spearheaded by crew chief Tom Busch – Kyle and Kurt Busch’s father – and Richie Waters, Kyle Busch’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series crew chief.
Alex Haase's #51 (NASCAR/ Terry Thomson Photos)
“We come here with good stuff,” Haase said. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t be on top of the board.”
Another pair of rookies, Ricky Carmichael (No. 4 Monster Energy Drink Chevrolet) and Jeff Barkshire (No. 46 Centennial Batteries Dodge) were third and fourth respectively. Barkshire was the top NASCAR Camping World Series West driver in practice.
“It’s where we hoped to be,” Barkshire said. “I was hoping to be in the top five, especially with all the heavy hitters here.”
Barkshire is running a car he purchased from Ray Evernham Motorsports over the winter. He raced it at Phoenix International Raceway last month, but said it’s much more prepared for this weekend. His fastest time was on lap 10 of an initial 20-lap run to start the session.
Dillon’s teammate, Peyton Sellers (No. 44 Specialty Fertilizer Products Chevrolet) was fifth.
“The Late Models ran all day, so they put down some rubber,” Sellers said. “When we got on track, we were hammer down. I still think we need to be better. The track’s going to tighten up when the sun comes out tomorrow.”
Sellers isn’t surprised to see his teammate run so quick.
“He’s really impressed me testing,” Sellers said. “I think he’ll be alright. A lot of people
see these kids come out and put up fast laps. I really think he has what it takes to
keep it up there all day.”
Winds from the northwest gusted at 30-40 mph during the day. Saturday's practice
was 1 1/2 hours. The teams will have another hour of practice Sunday morning.
Qualifying is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. CT and the race at 4:15 p.m. CT.
Ryan Preece’s inaugural NASCAR Camping World Series entry came to a premature
end. Preece’s No. 28 Logan Steel Ford blew a tire during Saturday’s practice and
suffered irreparable damage. With no backup car, Preece will not race Sunday.
“We’re all done,” said Preece, who ran just three laps. “The right side is totally torn up.
They said first five laps feel it out. After the first couple laps, I started to feel it out more. All the sudden, it took a dip in the right front and the thing went straight into the wall.”
The 17-year-old Connecticut native is a regular on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, where he became the youngest Coors Light Pole winner in tour history earlier this season. He will race next in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event Friday, May 23 at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.
Fifty-two cars practiced Saturday afternoon. The only car not to take the track was the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kasey Kahne. With Preece out, fifty-two cars will attempt to qualify for 44 spots.
Teammates Jim Warn, left, and Jeff Jefferson talk about their practice experience at Iowa Speedway.