Iowa has long been regarded as a hotbed of NASCAR racing. Many of the most popular and successful drivers have come from this state, and that trend shows no sign of slowing down in the future.
There are some well-known drivers from Iowa you might have heard of and others you might not have, so let’s take a look at 5 of the top NASCAR drivers from Iowa you need to know about.
Best Nascar Drivers From Iowa
1. Landon Cassill
This driver was born in Cedar Rapids and reportedly started to race when he was just 3 years old, riding a quad at first before moving on to go-kart races. Success came early, as Landon was just 10 when he was runner-up in the Pro Kart Tour. The next year, he won his first Kart Series championship and was already on his way to a successful racing career.
After that, Landon had a memorable night in 2000 when he won the state championship in three different classes on the same night. The following year, he won four state championships at Newton Kart Klub before moving on to racing at Hawkeye Downs. Landon carried on racing while attending Jefferson High School and competed in a wide variety of different categories over the next few years.
His start in NASCAR came in 2006 when he entered the GM Racing Development route into these events. He was signed up by Hendrick Motorsports at the end of that year and was named as the Rookie of the Year in 2008. Since then, Landon has raced for several different racing cars teams in NASCAR and enjoyed some success. Over his career, he’s gained 7 top 10 finishes in various types of races across the different types of Series.
At the end of last year, he joined Kaulig Racing as the No. 10 Chevrolet Camaro for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He also competes in NASCAR Cup Series in the No. 77 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 as part of the Spire Motorsports racing team. Recently, mechanical problems during the cutoff race held at Bristol Motor Speedway meant that he missed the Xfinity playoffs after a strong season up to that stage.
P25 no stripe. A couple highlights:
– boys day at the track again, love having Beckham with me
– @eRacr_gg driver @BigDogBowden came ready to party (pictured)
– beat @RossChastain 2 to 1 at Rock Paper Scissors during that last caution.
Solid day. pic.twitter.com/ak1SZy5Wq0
— landon cassill (@landoncassill) September 5, 2022
2. Tiny Lund
DeWayne Lund was born in Harlan in 1929 and was ironically known to most people as “Tiny” due to his giant frame, as he was 6 foot 5 inches tall and weighed around 270 pounds. His earliest races came on motorcycles before he started driving midget cars and then sprint cars. After serving with the US Air Force during the Korean War, he moved into stock car racing with NASCAR.
His career was packed with incidents, as he showed his driving prowess and also got involved in some spectacular crashes. Perhaps Tiny’s most memorable race came at the 1963 Daytona 500 event. There was high drama even before it began, as his friend Marvin Panch had an accident and Tiny rushed in to pull him out of the burning wreckage of the car.
Tiny was given a Carnegie Hero’s Medal for that action, and Panch asked him to take his place in the race. He was the 4th fastest driver during the qualifying trials and started from the 12th position on the grid. Following heavy rain, the race was an intriguing event that ended with Lund coming home in the first place.
After that, he picked up some more wins and high-position finishes as he raced for different teams in a variety of races across the country. You might also have seen Tiny appear in the 1968 Speedway movie with Elvis Presley and Nancy Sinatra, in a racing scene. His greatest NASCAR success came in the late 1960s and early 70s when he won over 40 races in the NASCAR Grand American Series for pony cars.
In fact, he won the Grand American championships in 1970 and then again the following year. He achieved this feat by driving a Camaro as part of the Ronnie Hopkins racing team. However, Tiny’s career came to a tragic end in 1975, when he was taking part in the Talladega 500 and on the 7th lap was involved in a collision with J D. McDuffie. He was pulled from the wreckage but died from the injuries sustained shortly afterward.
Tiny Lund has been named as one of the 50 greatest drivers in the history of NASCAR. He’s also been inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame as well as the American version. The Tiny Lund Memorial is a race held annually in his hometown of Harlan.
Tiny Lund wasn't tiny. His story is incredible. #MiracleAtDaytona: Thursday at 6p ET on @FS1's #NASCAR #RaceHub. pic.twitter.com/wiwYeRZhUt
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) February 15, 2017
3. Michael Annett
Hailing from Des Moines, Michael Annett took part in some mini-cup races when attending elementary school, but it was only after high school that he really got going in earnest. He also played ice hockey as a youngster and won the Clark Cup with the Waterloo Black Hawks. A lot of his early racing was done at Hawkeye Downs and he soon moved onto the American Speed Association racing circuit.
His first victory in the ARCA Racing Series came at Talladega Superspeedway. The following year, Michael won again in the same series, this time at the Daytona ARCA 200. He joined the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2008 and has returned to this series on a couple of occasions since then with the last one being in 2021.
2008 was also the year in which he joined the Germain Racing team for the NASCAR Nationwide Series. After several years with a few different teams, he went back to the Nationwide races in 2017, although it was now called the Xfinity Series. Michael drove the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro as part of the JR Motorsports team.
Another career highlight came in 2019 when he won the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 event at Daytona Speedway. In 2020, he qualified for the playoffs with JRM but in 2021 a stress fracture suffered in his right femur caused him to miss some races. He then decided that it was time to retire from full-time driving at the end of that season.
I'm truly honored to drive with @TMCTRANS in the @NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
More: http://t.co/bcMGSLANWN#TeamMA pic.twitter.com/curOCs58i3
— Michael Annett (@MichaelAnnett) October 9, 2015
4. Dick Hutcherson
Dick Hutcherson was born in Keokuk, known as the Racing Capital of the World, in 1931 and raced in NASCAR events for a period of three years in the mid-1960s. His hometown also led to his nickname of the Keokuk Comet, and he was part of an exciting group of drivers to come from here. His racing career began in 1956 and he was soon competing at a high level.
Dick won the IMCA championship for the first time in 1963 and then won it again the following year. In total, he racked up 81 IMCA victories and was the champion in the Late Model series in the Dakota State Fair Speedway series a couple of times.
He also took part in the American Road 250 that was run in 1962 as a competitor to the NASCAR series, coming home in third place. His overall career record shows 14 winning races by the time he retired at the end of the 1967 season. Following the end of his driving career, Dick went on to become a successful businessman. He’s regularly listed as one of the top NASCAR drivers of all time and there’s no doubt that his legend lives on in the sport. Dick Hutcherson died in 2005, in his home, in Florida.
Dick’s brother, Ron, was also a successful NASCAR driver, who raced in the 1970s. Ron completed over 1,500 NASCAR laps and had an average finishing place of 25th. Most of his success came in the ARCA racing series, and like his brother is fondly remembered by American racing fans, but sadly he passed away in August 2022.
Dick Hutcherson would have been 89 today #RIP
Dick Hutcherson, of Keokuk, IA, won 9 @NASCAR Grand National races in 1965 & finished 2nd in points. In 1969, he was David Pearson's crew chief & won the championship. He later formed Hutcherson-Pagan Enterprises with Eddie Pagan. pic.twitter.com/WyTHoXdmus
— NASCAR Legends (@LegendsNascar) November 30, 2020
5. Joey Gase
Cedar Rapids was the birthplace of this NASCAR driver, who started by racing in the junior category at Hawkeye Downs Speedway at the turn of the century. He attended Xavier High School. In 2007, Joey became the youngest driver to win the modified B championship on the track at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway in Wisconsin.
He joined the NASCAR Truck Series and then moved on to the Xfinity Series. His first race came at Iowa Speedway in 2011, when he drove the No. 39 Ford for Go Green Racing, and good performances led to him taking that role for the full 2021 season.
Currently, Joey drives part-time in the Xfinity series, getting behind the wheels of the No. 35 Ford Mustang and the No. 53 Toyota Supra as part of the Emerling-Gase Motorsports team that he founded in 2021. At first, the team was called Joey Gase Racing, but the name was changed when Patrick Emerling joined them later in their first year.
Joey Gase also drives the No. 30 Toyota Tundra in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, as well as the No. 20 Chevrolet Silverado as part of the Young’s Motorsports team. Away from the track, he was honored with the first-ever Comcast Community Champion Award. This was given to him thanks to the work he’s done in promoting organ donation, something he was inspired to do following the death of his mother when he was a teenager.
🚨🚨🚨Joey Gase Racing and @PatrickEmerling team up to form Emerling-Gase Motorsports in the NASCAR XFINITY Series! Read more below! @EG_Motorsports pic.twitter.com/gmJofEqumP
— Joey Gase Racing (@JoeyGaseRacing) December 30, 2021
Credits on Featured Image: U.S. Air Force photo by Larry McTighe, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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