Blaney holds on to win in overtime at Iowa

NEWTON, IA - AUGUST 01:  Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway on August 1, 2015 in Newton, Iowa.  (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)

NEWTON, IA – AUGUST 01: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway on August 1, 2015 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)

NEWTON, Iowa – As the cautions — and wreckage — piled up, Ryan Blaney didn’t blink.

Trouble reigned for most in the late tension-filled stages of the U.S. Cellular 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Iowa Speedway, but the driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford remained calm and poised.

Seemed so, anyway.

“It’s not ideal,” Blaney said of four cautions in the final 20 scheduled laps that interrupted his stirring Saturday night run to Victory Lane. “At all. You have a great car and those late cautions are just chances to give it away.”

Not Saturday.

Blaney’s turn at the wheel put the Team Penske No. 22 in Victory Lane at Iowa for the third straight August. Brad Keselowski drove it to wins each of the past two seasons.

Blaney led an astounding 252 laps of 260, churning out the most dominant performance in his young career and first series win of the season after three runner-up finishes.

“It’s crazy that you lead more laps than the race is actually scheduled for,” Blaney’s crew chief, Greg Erwin, said.

Crazy indeed, but fitting for Blaney, who felt he had “given away” last weekend’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to Kyle Busch, who made a last-lap pass.

“It really speaks a lot to this team,” Blaney said. “(They gave me) a great race car.”

Regan Smith finished a season-best second and Brian Scott took third. Ty Dillon and Brendan Gaughan — who took a late shot at Blaney that slightly damaged both cars — completed the top five.

Blaney simply shined from the start.

He swiftly passed Coors Light polesitter Daniel Suarez after the green flag flew and led the first 146 laps — or 50 more than his previous best total he amassed while notching his first series win at Kentucky in 2013.

The first hiccup: Trailing Smith for four laps after easing off pit road on Lap 147 slightly behind him.

The next green flag erased that issue.

On Lap 151 Blaney surged to the front again and set a blistering pace in clean air, virtually unchallenged.

But one more pit stop was required and Chase Elliott — who powered to second during the late stages— beat Blaney off pit road.

A change in the evening’s balance of power?

Hardly.

Blaney quickly swept past Elliott and never looked back — except to survey the misfortunes of others.

Eight cautions marred the event, with six coming after Lap 205.

Elliott drew one after contact with Brandon Jones sent him spinning into the wall on Lap 231.

He recovered to finish ninth and sits 20 points behind standings leader Chris Buescher, who was collected in the multi-car wreck that came on the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish.

Buescher settled for 13th.

Kenny Wallace, who made his record 547th and final appearance with the series, spun twice. He ended up 15th.

Blaney’s No. 22 sustained some damage on the first green-white-checkered attempt as Brendan Gaughan tried to make a run to his low side, but didn’t clear his left rear.

No hard feelings, Blaney said. Just good, hard racing.

“Wouldn’t want it any other way,” Blaney said.

Still, the twisted metal gave Smith hope — until he missed his mark on the final restart.

“He went a lot earlier than I anticipated,” said Smith, who notched his best finish this season. “It was my fault for not being ready.”

No one could mount much for Blaney all night.

Blaney led every green flag lap. He led 160 more laps than he’s ever led in an XFINITY Series race.

And his first win of 2015 came at a track where he snared his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win in 2012.

“Just a fun place,” said Blaney, whose 252 laps led, unsurprisingly, proved to be a track record. “We’ve always had good runs here.”

NASCAR XFINITY Series Race – US Cellular 250 presented by New Holland
Iowa Speedway
Newton, Iowa
Saturday, August 01, 2015
1. (2) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 260, $89509.
2. (9) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 260, $68370.
3. (11) Brian Scott, Chevrolet, 260, $53788.
4. (10) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 260, $42216.
5. (3) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 260, $36711.
6. (1) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, 260, $39537.
7. (5) Erik Jones(i), Toyota, 260, $32686.
8. (15) Elliott Sadler, Ford, 260, $33336.
9. (12) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 260, $31106.
10. (18) Ross Chastain #, Chevrolet, 260, $30123.
11. (8) Darrell Wallace Jr. #, Ford, 260, $28617.
12. (17) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 260, $28062.
13. (6) Chris Buescher, Ford, 260, $27532.
14. (14) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 260, $27003.
15. (7) Kenny Wallace, Toyota, 260, $27073.
16. (16) Dakoda Armstrong, Ford, 260, $26321.
17. (26) Dylan Lupton, Chevrolet, 260, $26094.
18. (20) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 260, $25842.
19. (21) Ryan Reed, Ford, 260, $25615.
20. (4) Brandon Jones(i), Chevrolet, 260, $25888.
21. (22) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 258, $25261.
22. (23) David Starr, Toyota, 258, $25130.
23. (25) Cale Conley #, Toyota, 258, $24978.
24. (24) Blake Koch, Toyota, 257, $24828.
25. (29) Matt Wallace, Toyota, 256, $24852.
26. (31) Eric McClure, Toyota, 254, $24575.
27. (28) Johanna Long, Chevrolet, 254, $18449.
28. (35) Anthony Kumpen, Chevrolet, 250, $18298.
29. (36) Mike Harmon, Dodge, 240, $18171.
30. (13) Ben Rhodes, Chevrolet, Accident, 239, $24345.
31. (37) Matt Frahm, Chevrolet, 234, $17889.
32. (19) Michael Self, Chevrolet, Accident, 179, $23778.
33. (33) Jimmy Weller, Chevrolet, Clutch, 136, $23662.
34. (27) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, Transmission, 131, $23551.
35. (34) Harrison Rhodes #, Chevrolet, Electrical, 94, $17436.
36. (39) John Jackson, Chevrolet, Overheating, 34, $15678.
37. (30) Morgan Shepherd, Chevrolet, Brakes, 29, $14678.
38. (40) Zachary Bruenger, Chevrolet, Brakes, 20, $13678.
39. (38) Josh Reaume #, Dodge, Overheating, 19, $12678.
40. (32) Jeff Green, Toyota, Vibration, 3, $11678.
Average Speed of Race Winner:  103.383 mph.
Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 12 Mins, 02 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.321 Seconds.
Caution Flags:  8 for 41 laps.
Lead Changes:  6 among 4 drivers.
Lap Leaders:    0; R. Blaney 1-146; R. Smith 147-150; R. Blaney 151-205; R. Sieg 206; C. Elliott 207-209; R. Blaney 210-260.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  R. Blaney 3 times for 252 laps; R. Smith 1 time for 4 laps; C. Elliott 1 time for 3 laps; R. Sieg 1 time for 1 lap.
Top 10 in Points: C. Buescher – 682; C. Elliott – 662; T. Dillon – 661; R. Smith – 643; E. Sadler – 630; D. Wallace Jr. # – 601; D. Suarez # – 596; B. Gaughan – 576; B. Scott – 568; R. Reed – 551.

 

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