Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, continued his mastery of Iowa Speedway with a dominating performance in the Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the track in Newton on Sunday. He led 209 laps of the 250-lap event en route to his third-consecutive Nationwide event at the facility.
"That was dominant right there, man," a jubilant Stenhouse said in victory lane.
His closest points pursuer, Elliott Sadler in the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet finished second, and Michael McDowell finished third in his rare appearance behind the wheel of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
I like dominating those races,
The win was Stenhouse's third of the season.
"This has been a spectacular run, especially here at Iowa," No. 6 crew chief Mike Kelley said.
Sadler started the race on the pole but lost the top spot to Sam Hornish Jr. in the No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge at the start of the race. Stenhouse first found himself in the lead on lap 31 after starting the race from the third position.
Stenhouse lost his lead on a restart following a lap 73 caution when the No. 31 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet got by him on the restart, but he reassumed the top spot on lap 87 and began to pull away.
Stenhouse lost the lead again during a caution on lap 114 when Danica Patrick suffered a right front tire issue on the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet and smacked the wall. Her teammate, Cole Whitt in the No. 88 Chevrolet took only two tires during the caution to get off pit road first and assumed the lead.
But Stenhouse got by Whitt to get back his usual position up front soon after the restart. Sadler joined his championship rival when he passed Allgaier for second on lap 140, but by that time, Stenhouse had already driven out to a four-second lead.
"I like dominating those races," Stenhouse said.
A few laps later, Kurt Busch drove his No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota by Sadler's No. 2 for the runner-up spot. Busch had made his way through the field after starting in the back because he missed qualifying on Saturday when he was in Charlotte tending to Sprint All-Star Race obligations.
"We had a lot of fun today," Busch said. "For us it's a big step to be in contention."
Busch took the lead from Stenhouse on a restart following a caution with 70 laps to go when he, Stenhouse and Sadler went three wide, battling for the lead. But both Stenhouse and Sadler both got back by Busch to reassume the top-two positions with 60 laps to go.
Busch retook the second spot from Sadler on the next restart, following a caution with 48 laps to go, but Sadler reassumed the position a few laps later.
With Stenhouse and Sadler pulling away and settling into the top-two spots in the final laps, Busch had to fight off McDowell for third. The two made contact on the last lap, enabling McDowell to take third and sending Busch back to fifth for the finish.
"Sure, we got the short end of the stick, but I don't care," Busch said.
Austin Dillon in the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet also got by Busch on the final lap to finish fourth.