Amanda Vincent, NASCAR Correspondent
If any NASCAR Nationwide Series competitor is excited about a return trip to Iowa Speedway in Newton for Saturday's U.S. Cellular 250, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the No. 6 Roush Fenway Ford, has to be. After all, he is the three-time reigning winner of the event. One has to go back to 2010 to find a Nationwide winner not named Stenhouse in victory lane at Iowa Speedway, even though the series now makes two yearly visits to the track.
Another Iowa win for Stenhouse on Saturday, and the driver will become only the seventh driver in Nationwide Series history to win four-straight races at a given track."
Roush Fenway has strong short and intermediate track programs, and Iowa Speedway has similar qualities of both types of tracks.
"I know winning four-in-a-row at Iowa is going to be a tough accomplishment, but I feel our No. 6 team is strong and up for the challenge," Stenhouse said. "It would be a great honor to become the seventh Nationwide driver to win four-in-a-row and become the first Roush Fenway Racing driver to accomplish this feat."
Another Iowa trophy to add to his collection aside, Stenhouse has a couple of reasons to hope for a win come Saturday.
He heads into the weekend third in the championship points standings, with Richard Childress Racing drivers Elliott Sadler and Austin Dillon ahead of him. Points lead Sadler is within sight of Stenhouse, with just a 13-point lead.
Then there's the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus up for grabs. Stenhouse is one of the four drivers eligible to take that chunk of change home from Iowa, the last race of the season that's part of the program.
Stenhouse has been a mainstay in Dash 4 Cash eligibility. This team around, he'll be competing with Dillon, Sam Hornish Jr. and Michael Annett for the bonus. None of those other three have won in Nationwide competition at Iowa. Maybe that's because they've never competed in a series event at the track without Stenhouse being there to claim victory.
"Roush Fenway has strong short and intermediate track programs, and Iowa Speedway has similar qualities of both types of tracks," Stenhouse said.
Stenhouse is, of course, one of, if not the, favorites to drive into victory lane on Saturday. His three-straight wins at the track give him three wins in only five starts. In the Nationwide race there earlier this season, Stenhouse put on a dominating performance, leading 209 of the 250 laps that made up the event.
"We are bringing the same car that we won with at Iowa earlier this year," crew chief Mike Kelley said. "Iowa really suits Ricky's driving style."
That's pretty much stating the obvious.