By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
One week after a mistake sent Joe Graf, Jr. home before the race even started, he will make his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Iowa Speedway.
At Michigan International Speedway, a mistake in qualifying sent Graf’s No. 21 EAT, SLEEP, RACE Chevrolet Camaro SS home. He had been 15th-fastest on the practice charts for the LTi Printing 250 in the Richard Childress Racing machine that weekend. Graf’s teammate Tyler Reddick went on to win the race.
Graf is guaranteed to start the CircuitCity.com 250 on Sunday with just 38 cars entered for the 38-car field. He enters the Newton, IA track after competing in the ARCA Shore Lunch 200 at Madison International Speedway Friday night. Graf finished ninth, two laps behind the leaders after an accident just past the halfway mark.
At Iowa, the 20-year-old has one previous start in the ARCA Menards Series last year. He started 11th and finished fifth. Graf lead three laps in the race that day.
“I’m looking forward to Iowa Speedway this weekend. It’s one of my favorite tracks to race since you can race top to bottom,” Graf explained. “There’s not just one groove. I’m hoping that my past experience in an ARCA car will give me a jumpstart in the Xfinity car, we can have a productive weekend, and get some redemption from my mistake in Michigan qualifying last Saturday. I really can’t thank Richard Childress Racing and EAT SLEEP RACE enough for the opportunity.”
The Mahwah, NJ native will return to Iowa on July 19 in ARCA competition. In 29 ARCA starts to date, Graf has one victory, seven top-five, and 14 top-10 finishes.
Prior to Graf failing the qualify last weekend, the last time an RCR entry failed to qualify for a Xfinity Series race was 2013 when Brendan Gaughan missed the field at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Graf became just the fifth driver to fail to make a race behind the wheel of a RCR Chevrolet.