NEWTON, Iowa -- The NASCAR Nationwide series has been dominated by double-duty Sprint Cup drivers all season, which isn't exactly a new phenomenon.
The so-called "regular guys" on the Nationwide tour are hoping to break that trend in Iowa.
The Nationwide series will make its second stop at Iowa Speedway on Saturday night with a thinner-than-usual roster of double-duty drivers. The Sprint Cup race in Pocono on Sunday starts less than 18 hours after the green flag drops in Iowa, so just eight drivers are scheduled to double-dip this weekend.
That could leave the door open for the likes of Justin Allgaier, Trevor Bayne or Steve Wallace to snap a stretch of 16 races without a win for a Nationwide-only driver.
"I feel like it's not impossible for us to win a race," Allgaier said. "I think towards the end of the season we're going to see more Nationwide-only guys win races."
Allgaier should know, of course. He's the only non-Sprint Cup driver to win a Nationwide race this season, crossing first at Bristol on March 20.
Allgaier was the Nationwide rookie of the year in 2009 and has continued to show he's one of the brighter young talents in stock car racing. The 24-year-old Allgaier is third in the points standings behind Cup drivers Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards, and he led 35 laps at Iowa last year before a string of bad luck left him 15th.
Bayne has taken the last two poles in the Nationwide series. Neither translated into a win -- though he did finish a career-best third at Gateway two weeks ago -- but his No. 99 car has run its best races in back-to-back weeks.
Though the challenge of running against Cup drivers has been a daunting one for Nationwide regulars, Bayne said he appreciates that struggle. He thinks it's only going to help him in his quest to become a Cup regular himself.
"I know we can be fast here. I think we've got a good shot at these Cup guys this weekend, probably as good as any weekend remaining in the year," Bayne said.
"That's what is going to benefit me the most is racing against these guys every weekend," he said. "It's going to make me a better driver. And racing against this tough equipment. I mean, if everything was just handed to us, it would seem easy and we'd step into Sprint Cup and we'd struggle."
Wallace enters Iowa with eight straight top-15 finishes, a streak that trails only Edwards and Keselowski. He'd also seem to have the edge in Iowa, since the 0.875-mile oval was designed by his famous father, Rusty Wallace, and he won the inaugural ARCA event at Iowa in 2006.
Then again, Wallace got involved in an accident at the NASCAR Truck race at Iowa Speedway three weeks ago and finished a disappointing 30th.
"We all need to try a little harder to get these cars handling better and try and beat these Cup guys," Wallace said.
Of course, the likes of Keselowski, Edwards, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick will be in the field as well, and recent history suggests that one of those guys will end up on top. Last year it was Keselowski, who moved past Busch with eight laps left for the win.
There's also the matter of the "Dash for Cash," a $50,000 incentive for the winner as long as they're either Nationwide-only drivers or double-duty running a full Nationwide schedule.
Harvick and Busch won't be eligible for the prize, though the money would be a luxury for them. That's not the case for the series regulars, and things could get interesting if Harvick or Busch are out in front late with a few "regular guys" on their tails.
"Any time you can bring home cash, it could get ugly at the front," said Brendan Gaughan, a Nationwide-only driver ranked eighth in the points standings. "If it's two (Nationwide) regulars that comes down to it and a regular and a Cup guy that comes down to it, 50 grand is worth making a few enemies."