Amanda Vincent, NASCAR Correspondent
- Stenhouse, Edwards again finish 1-2 at Iowa
- Sadler claimed 3rd finishing position
- Sorenson receives Dash 4 Cash bonus
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. loses engine, knocked across finish line by Edwards
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. lost the engine in his No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford on the final lap of U.S. Cellular 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway on Saturday, but he was close enough to the start/finish line and the checkered flag to be able to slide to the win after contact from his RFR teammate, Carl Edwards, in the No. 60 Ford.
I was aggressive there at the end.
“The motor was kind of messing up on us,” Stenhouse said after the race.
Edwards finished second after his teammate to give Roush Fenway the one-two finish, mirroring his and Stenhouse’s one-two finish at Iowa in May of this year. Pole sitter Elliott Sadler, in the No. 2 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet, finished third.
“I don’t think anybody’s ever finished one-two with two torn up race cars,” Edwards said.
After starting up front, Sadler slid back through the field. Meanwhile, Stenhouse, Edwards, David Mayhew in the No. 33 KHI Chevrolet, and Sam Hornish Jr. in the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge ran in the top-five most of the race.
Teams had varying pit strategies through early cautions. Hornish led the race when the first caution came out on lap 23 after Justin Allgaier cut down the right front tire on his No. 31 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet. Hornish. Mayhew, who was making his series debut, stayed out while the other cars running near the front headed down pit road.
Strategy varied further when the next caution came out on lap 47. Under that caution, Michael McDowell stayed out in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, as did Edwards, Jason Leffler in the No. 38 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet and Steve Wallace in the No. 66 Rusty Wallace Racing Toyota. The variance didn’t stop at staying out or pitting. Of those who pitted, Stenhouse, Sadler, Aric Almirola in the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet and Reed Sorenson in the No. 32 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet took fuel only to be the first four off pit road.
Everyone got back on the same fueling schedule when all pitted during the caution that came out on lap 100. Mayhew did vary his strategy slightly by taking two tires while everyone else took four.
Mayhew was able to hold everyone off on his two fresh tires for a few laps, but the RFR duo of Edwards and Stenhouse got by him for the first two spots in the running order by lap 115.
Hornish fell out of contention when a tire issue resulted in a brake duct catching on fire around the lap 150 mark of the 250-lap race. Not long after Hornish’s problems, Sadler found himself back in the top-five after his team pulled off a few fast stops and got his car handling better.
While the identities of a few of the drivers around them changed, Stenhouse and Edwards continued to run at or near the front. The two teammates raced side-by-side for the lead for several laps, and the competition between them turned physical. In the later laps of the race, the No. 6 crew attempted to calm its driver down, as he expressed frustration about the contact he received from Edwards. Each driver accused the other of being overly-aggressive.
“I was aggressive there at the end,” Stenhouse said. “You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
The No. 60 team had issues with a lug nut on a pit stop under a caution with 65 laps to go that put Edwards in 16th spot on the restart. Stenhouse also lost several positions because of pit strategy. But the two drivers found themselves back in the top-five by the time the yellow flag waved again with 30 laps to go. Sadler was back up front by that point and restarted the race in the lead with Mayhew alongside in the second spot.
Mayhew got nudged out of line quickly after the restart, and Stenhouse and Edwards raced hard to take his place in second. After getting by Mayhew, both Roush Fenway drivers made their way past Sadler to claim the top-two positions.
Stenhouse then proceeded to pull away from his teammate, as Edwards’ car got tight. Stenhouse had a sizeable lead on Edwards until his engine let go just a few feet from the start/finish line on the final lap. Edwards was unable to get by the slowed No. 6 car and the two RFR drivers made hard contact.
“I thought, no big deal,” Edwards said. “I’ll drive around him.”
Edwards said after the race that he began to go around Stenhouse but Stenhouse turned in the same direction at the same time, so he was unable to miss his teammate’s slowed car.
Although both cars were heavily damaged, nobody else was able to get by them in time to take the top-two positions away. Josh Wise, in the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, finished behind Sadler in fourth, and his teammate Aric Almirola, in the No. 88 Chevrolet, rounded out the top-five.
Sorenson finished sixth to claim the $100,000 Nationwide Dash 4 Cash bonus. He was the highest finisher among the four drivers eligible for the bonus at Iowa. The other three eligible drivers were Allgaier, Leffler, and Michael Annett in the No. 62 Rusty Wallace Racing Toyota.
“To win this Nationwide Dash 4 Cash bonus is awesome,” commented Sorenson.
Annett finished 12th, Leffler 13th and Allgaier was 29th.
Sorenson also made himself eligible for the third Dash 4 Cash bonus to be awarded at Richmond International Raceway in September. The other three drivers eligible, based on their Iowa finishes, will be Stenhouse, Sadler and Wise.