Growing up in a family that makes its living in the agricultural industry, a race track nestled in the confluent corn fields of Central Iowa serves as a fitting site for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut of 25-year-old Drew Herring. Herring - who in July of 2010 made his Nationwide Series debut at Iowa Speedway in Newton - returns to the .875-mile track this weekend, where he will be driving the No. 18 Toyota/Dollar General Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) in Saturday’s American Ethanol 200.
While getting a feel for the differences between a Nationwide Series Camry and Camping World Truck Series Tundra will pose a challenge for Herring when practice begins Friday night, finding his way around the Rusty Wallace-designed short track shouldn’t be an issue. The North Carolina native has finished in the top 15 in each of his three Nationwide Series starts at Iowa Speedway. In two USARacing Pro Cup Series starts there, he collected two top-10 finishes, including capturing the pole and leading 128 laps en route to a runner-up finish in the 2009 race.
Herring, whose resume includes Late Model championships at two different short tracks, has been able to showcase his driving talent over his three Nationwide Series starts at Iowa. He qualified 15th, made his way as high as fourth for several laps and finished 15th in an impressive series debut in 2010. When qualifying was washed out for last May’s Nationwide Series race, Herring inherited the pole and went on to lead the first 37 laps of the race. He surrendered several positions when he stalled the car on pit road during the first round of pits stops, but was able to battle back to the front and regained the lead on lap 209. The youngster fell back in the late stages of the race and was forced to settle for a 12th-place finish. Last August, he produced his Nationwide Series career-best qualifying effort of fifth and went on to finish 11th.
Although the 25-year-old hasn’t made any starts in 2012, he practiced Kurt Busch’s No. 54 Monster Energy Camry for KBM during last month’s Nationwide Series race at Iowa and qualified the same machine for the May Iowa race. Additionally, he has participated in testing for Joe Gibbs Racing, so he should be able to shake off the rust fairly quickly.
Working with veteran crew chief Eric Phillips, who called the shots for Mike Skinner’s dominant win in the inaugural Iowa truck race, and an experienced KBM crew, should help ease the transition to the seat of a truck for Herring. After a slow start to the season, the 2010 Truck Series Owner’s champs have registered top-10 finishes in eight of the last nine races and the No. 18 Tundra has led the most laps in two of the last three stops on the circuit.
Iowa Speedway has been the site of many firsts during the early stages of Herring’s NASCAR career. When the checkered flag waves at the conclusion of Saturday’s 200-lap race, the youngster is hoping to achieve another milestone at the ‘Track of Dreams’ – his first NASCAR win.