Photo credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography

Ryan Blaney, William Byron headline drivers to watch at Iowa

The NASCAR Cup Series takes on Iowa Speedway for the first time this weekend. Several drivers have won at the .875-mile paved track, a list headlined by Willliam Byron and Ryan Blaney.

Blaney has extensive experience at Iowa Speedway. According to Frontstretch Content Director Stephen Stumpf, the reigning Cup Series champ has made the third-most starts at Iowa of any driver. Blaney has five Xfinity starts, four truck starts, and three ARCA East starts. This run includes one Xfinity win in 2015 and one Truck win in 2012.

Ross Chastain (15 starts) and Bubba Wallace (13 starts) are the only drivers with more starts than Blaney at Iowa. Though neither Chastain nor Wallace has celebrated a win at the short track.

Byron, for comparison, has only made five starts at Iowa, but he has made the most of his opportunities.

Two starts were in Xfinity, one was in Truck, and two were in ARCA East. Byron's first Xfinity win was at Iowa in 2017. One of his seven Truck wins in 2016 was at Iowa. Byron also won the ARCA East race at Iowa in 2015.

Blaney and Byron are in two significantly different situations heading to the inaugural Cup race at Iowa. Blaney is winless this season with four top-five finishes and six top-10s. He is 12th in the Cup standings.

Byron is sixth in the Cup standings. He has three wins this season -- tied for the series lead with Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin. He has 16 playoff points while Blaney has one.

Byron is not the only driver to score his first career Xfinity win at Iowa Speedway. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. also achieved this feat during the 2011 season. Stenhouse actually won both races at Iowa in 2011 before winning the Xfinity championship.

Stenhouse then won his third consecutive race at Iowa during the 2012 season en route to his second Xfinity title. Now, he will be one of the many former Iowa winners trying to punch his ticket to the Cup playoffs with a win this weekend.

Stenhouse joins Austin Dillon (one Iowa win), Erik Jones (three wins), John Hunter Nemechek (one win), Chris Buescher (one win), Chase Briscoe (two wins), Todd Gilliland (two wins), Corey LaJoie (one win), Alex Bowman (one win), Kyle Busch (two wins), Ty Gibbs (two wins), Ryan Preece (one win), and Joey Logano (one win).

Past Iowa winners with Cup wins this season include Brad Keselowski (three Iowa wins), Chase Elliott (one win), and Christopher Bell (one win).