top of page

Blaney dominates first ever Cup race in Iowa

Written by Sean McKean

Credit - Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images

After a hot and brutal race, it was Ryan Blaney that outlasted the competition to win at Iowa. It's Blaney's first win of the season and his second at a short track.

As it unfolded

Though he was contested aggressively by polesitter Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney quickly took the lead from Larson. He led the opening few laps before the first caution. 

The yellow was for Corey Lajoie, who got tagged from behind by both of his Spire teammates Carson Hocevar and Zane Smith. Lajoie continued with little damage but had to take fresh tires.

The next restart on lap 10 saw Larson solidify himself as leader, cutting across Blaney to keep the lead this time. As the run continued, the Chevrolet drivers – such as William Byron – began moving their way up the pack. 

The same could not be said for many of the Toyotas. Before lap 50, Denny Hamlin had fallen to 33rd and one lap down, Martin Truex fell to 28th, and Christopher Bell fell to 20th despite starting in the top ten.

These drivers got the chance to make ground back up with the next caution on lap 52. This was for the first of – presumably – many tire failures, starting with AJ Allmendinger in Turn 1. He sustained major damage from the accident and thus had to retire.

Although most of the lead-lap drivers went into the pits during the caution period, Brad Keselowski and Daniel Suarez decided to stay out for track position. Subsequently, they led the way on the lap 59 restart but were quickly swallowed up by those on fresh tires. 

Larson quickly dispatched of those on old tires, but Blaney followed closely behind – eventually taking the lead with 10 laps to go in the stage. The Hendrick driver closed in before the stage's end, but it was Ryan Blaney that took stage one victory, followed by Larson and Daniel Suarez.

The theme continued as Larson shot away to lead the beginning of stage two, but like the start, it was brief. Going into Turn 3, John Hunter Nemechek tried making a move on Noah Gragson but dove too deep, sending Gragson into a half-spin. Though they each continued on without damage, the caution had to come out.

The biggest event under this yellow was race leader Kyle Larson coming into the pits. The suspected reason for this was due to a right-rear vibration. This put the 2021 champion into the back-end of the field for the next restart.

Blaney led the way on lap 87 for the restart. He led decisively with no interruptions, but the issue of tire wear continued. During this run, Michael McDowell, Zane Smith and Erik Jones each suffered respective tire failures – all of which resulting in no caution flags. 

The run continued long enough to begin green flag pit stops, and all of the top ten had few faults. However, mid-cycle, the caution came back out for another tire failure. This time, it was Daniel Hemric who hit the wall in Turn 2. 

As one of the few who stretched out their stint, Ricky Stenhouse led the way alongside William Byron on lap 189, but they quickly fell back down the field in Turn 4, coming to blows with a bit of contact. This sent Larson back into the lead of the race. The stage ended as such, with Larson taking full points, followed by Josh Berry and Chase Elliott.

Both RFK cars stayed out for the restart, and they led the way. It only took one lap for the caution to come back out, this time for a major frontrunner: Kyle Larson. Coming off Turn 4, Larson was tagged at the rear by Daniel Suarez, which sent him into a spin towards the outside wall and Denny Hamlin. This ended the day of Larson, but Hamlin continued on – albeit damaged.

The next restart on lap 228 saw the top two – now consisting of Chris Buescher and Josh Berry – were fiercely battling for the lead. Although Buescher briefly held on, Berry got by three laps later to take the lead for a while.

The positives of the day didn’t last long for Buescher, as he was the subject of the next caution. Like many others today, he suffered a tire failure going into Turn 1. He continued on.

Under the caution, most teams on the lead lap took four fresh tires, but the Penske duo of Logano and Blaney took two tires to gain track position as did Stenhouse. So, the next restart, Blaney shot out into the lead ahead of his two-time champion teammate.

As the run progressed, Blaney maintained a one-second gap to Byron behind. However, the tire life remaining in both Penskes became problematic. Both Byron in second and Elliott in third were closing the gap to Blaney as he hit lapped traffic and overworn tires.

But the pressure wouldn’t be enough to crack the dominant Blaney, who took his first victory of the Cup season. William Byron followed close behind in second followed by Chase Elliott. Christopher Bell rallied after a tough start to finish fourth. Ricky Stenhouse makes his tyres last to take his third top ten of the season.

Joey Logano also made old tyres last to finish sixth. Josh Berry finished a solid day in seventh. Alex Bowman quietly slotted into eighth by the end. Daniel Suarez took his first top ten since Texas in ninth. Rounding out the top ten was Brad Keselowski.

Catch the next bit of NASCAR Cup Series action next Sunday, as they travel to another short-track in New Hampshire.


bottom of page