Ricky Stenhouse Jr. crosses the finish line as he wins the NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race Sunday at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.
NEWTON, Iowa — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led for 209 of 250 laps and won the NASCAR Nationwide race at the Iowa Speedway on Sunday, his third straight win on Iowa’s short oval.
Stenhouse, who won both races in Iowa in 2011, picked up his third victory of the season and extended his lead in the points chase to 28 over Elliott Sadler, who was second. Michael McDowell was third, followed by rookie Austin Dillon and Kurt Busch.
The Sprint Cup event in Charlotte on Saturday kept all Cup regulars except for Busch out of the field. Busch briefly took the lead after starting in the back and saved a top-five finish after being bumped by McDowell on the last lap.
Danica Patrick failed to finish for just the second time this season. Travis Pastrana’s third career Nationwide race ended roughly 50 laps from the finish because of an electrical issue.
Stenhouse said he didn’t know why he’s been so good at Iowa.
Having the best car in the field always helps, and there was little doubt that the No. 6 Ford was far and away the dominant machine on Sunday.
Stenhouse, who started third, took the lead from Sam Hornish Jr. after just 30 laps. Though Cole Whitt, Justin Allgaier, Sadler and Busch each took turns with the front position, none of them could hold off the charging Stenhouse for more than a few laps.
Though it was a much less eventful finish for Stenhouse that his last trip to Iowa, when he blew an engine and got pushed to the win by Carl Edwards, it ended with yet another trip to victory lane.
Patrick started ninth, just her fifth top-10 start in 35 career Nationwide races. But Patrick was already in 16th place when she drifted high into a turn and slammed into the wall 114 laps into the 250-lap event.
The No. 7 car suffered damage on its right side that was too extensive for Patrick to continue. Patrick said she was encouraged by the progress she and her team made this weekend, even though it ended poorly.
“I’m bummed out because we were on a good roll and we were having the best short track weekend we’ve had yet,” Patrick said. “These are the things that happen. You can’t control it. You’ve got 34 weekends and they’re not all going to go perfect.”
Darrell Wallace Jr., held his ground in his first career start in the Nationwide series, finishing ninth after starting eighth.
Wallace, who drives for Joe Gibbs Racing, finished last in the K&N Pro Series event on Saturday night after hitting the wall just 26 laps in. But that was an aberration for the 18-year-old Wallace, who has won six times in that series.
“He’s somebody with the most promising talent who is an African-American to come through our diversity program. He has been dominant at the K&N. He’s winning,” NASCAR Chairman Brian France said about Wallace while in Charlotte on Saturday night. “That’s a breakthrough if that materializes. If not him, there’s going to be somebody who is going to walk in the door and be a star, and it’s going to be very good for us.”
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