Stenhouse turns in dominant performance at Iowa

NASCAR Nationwide Series fans already knew Ricky Stenhouse Jr. could win at Iowa. After all, he headed into Sunday’s Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the track as the winner of the two most recent Nationwide events in Iowa, claiming both races there in 2011.

He continued his Iowa prowess on Sunday, claiming yet another Iowa NNS win, and in dominating fashion. He led 209 of the 250 laps on Sunday en route to his third Nationwide win of the season.

“That was dominant right there, man,” Stenhouse said in victory lane.

“This has been a spectacular run, especially here at Iowa,” crew chief Mike Kelley said.

Elliott Sadler, second to Stenhouse in the series championship points standings, was runner-up to Stenhouse once again, finishing the race second to the series reigning champion.

Sadler started on the pole but Sam Hornish Jr. got out front at the start of the race to lead the first lap. Stenhouse took over on lap 31, getting by Hornish for the top spot and leading much of the rest of the way.

He lost the lead for the first time on a restart following a lap 73 caution, when Justin Allgaier jumped out front, but Stenhouse reclaimed the lead a few laps later on lap 87.

Stenhouse lost the lead again during the next caution that came out on lap 114. Cole Whitt got off pit road first to restart in the top spot after taking only two tires. Meanwhile, Stenhouse lost three positions on pit road, but it didn’t take him long to get back to the front to reclaim his lead.

Kurt Busch made his way toward the front after starting in the back for missing qualifying on Saturday while he was in Charlotte for the Sprint All-Star Race to claim the runner-up spot around lap 150. By that time, Stenhouse had already driven out to a four-second lead.

That lead was erased by a caution with 70 laps to go, and Busch assumed the top spot on the following restart. A few laps later, though, both Stenhouse and Sadler got by Busch to reclaim the front two spots.

Sadler and Busch swapped the second position a couple of times as Stenhouse maintained his position in first. Sadler got by Busch for good with 34 laps to go and began to pull away. In the final laps, Busch battled Michael McDowell for the third spot. The two made contact on the final lap, and McDowell claimed third. Busch slid back to finish fifth.

“Sure, we got the short end of he stick, but I don’t care,” Busch said.

Austin Dillon also got by Busch on the last lap to finish fourth.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR

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Tags: Iowa Speedway NASCAR Nationwide Series Ricky Stenhouse Jr

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