Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Ryan Blaney Captures Win in Inaugural NASCAR Cup Series Race at Iowa

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

NEWTON, Iowa – Ryan Blaney had come so close to victory on so many occasions in 2024, only to fall short in the end.

On Sunday at Iowa Speedway, it was finally Blaney’s time, scoring the win in Sunday’s Iowa Corn 350 ahead of the Hendrick Motorsports duo of William Byron and Chase Elliott.

It was a dominant drive from the driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Ford, who led a race-high 201 laps, winning the first stage and finishing the second stage in the top-five before a strategy call from crew chief Jonathan Hassler put him in the catbird seat for the final run to the finish.

Coming down pit road during the final caution on lap 263, a two-tire gamble put him out in front of Byron, with 88 laps remaining and there was no looking back from that point as he pulled out to a margin of approximately a second over Byron and he was able to hold that margin all the way down the stretch.

With the win, Blaney now has wins in all three NASCAR national series, having previously won in both the NASCAR Truck Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2012 and 2015, respectively.

“What a cool way to win here. This place means a lot to me and means a lot to my mom,” said Blaney. “We had a lot of people here tonight cheering us on, so they willed us to that one. Overall, I really appreciate the whole 12 boys. 

“I mean, our car was really fast all night and we got a little bit better through the night and two tires was a good call there. I didn’t know how well I was gonna hold on. I started to struggle a little bit at the end, but had enough to hang on. 

“I’m super proud of the effort. I appreciate Advance Auto Parts, Ford, Ford Performance, Menards, Discount Tire, Wurth, Snap On, DEX Imaging, Wabash – everything they do. It makes up a little bit from a couple weeks ago.”

Christopher Bell would finish the race in fourth in a back-up car after crashing in practice to start the weekend, followed by Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. scoring his first top-five finish since Talladega in April.

The remainder of the top-10 finishers were Joey Logano, Josh Berry, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, and Brad Keselowski.

Throughout the night, the only other car that seemed to be on Blaney’s level was Kyle Larson, who finished second to Blaney in the first stage, but worries about tires brought him to pit road early in the second stage, relegating him to outside the top-30 with a ton of work to do to get back to the front.

That would be no matter for Larson, who drove like a man possessed, picking off driver after driver on his way back through the field, eventually cycling back to the lead to win the second stage.

But the showdown that was brewing between Blaney and Larson over the course of the final stage was not to come when disaster struck for Larson on Lap 221 as Larson was involved in a crash off Turn 4.

Battling in a hornet’s nest of cars, contact from Daniel Suarez would send Larson for a spin, collecting Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch in the process.

Larson would finish the race in 34th, some 36 laps down after a detour to the garage to fix his battered No. 5 Chevrolet. Prior to the crash, Larson had led 80 laps on the day.

With Larson out of the picture, it was Blaney’s race to lose and he held up his end of the bargain, breaking his bad luck streak with the win.

Asked whether he thought he still could have won if Larson was still running at the end, Blaney noted it was going to be one of those things that we’ll really never know how it would have turned out.

“He looked really good. He fired off early in that race, drove away. I was kind of riding that time, that first stage. I was like, Man, he’s going really hard. Might blow a right front tire. He was just super fast,” Blaney said.

“I thought we got closer to him. He did come back through the field when he pitted. Yeah, his car was strong. Gosh, he was going to be tough to beat, that’s for sure.

“I do feel like the last two runs of the race we got a lot better. Finally got freed enough to roll the middle better where he would kind of beat us.

“Never know how those things are going to play out. We definitely got better. They were strong. I don’t know what happened, four cars coming together. He’s going to be a tough one to beat.”

Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.