It took not one, but two green-white-checkered attempts for Ryan Blaney to find redemption with a win in the Xfinity Series’ U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway.
After a last-lap blunder gave Kyle Busch the win at Indianapolis last week, Blaney led three times for 252 laps -including the final 51 – on the way to his first Xfinity win of 2015.
“It don’t make up for it, but it sure helps forget about it,” Blaney told NBCSN.
It’s his third series win and his first since winning at Bristol Motor Speedway last August.
After a relatively tranquil first 200 laps with just two cautions, chaos threw everything at Blaney in the final 50 with six cautions, including three in the last 19 laps. But each time, it was the No. 22 that kept ahead of the field.
“It was tough, man. I won a Truck race here a few years back all on restarts,” Blaney told NBCSN. “I didn’t know if this would play out good, I knew we had a lot of left-rear damage, it was smoking in the car a lot.”
The damage and smoke came after the No. 62 of Brendan Gaughan leaned against him on one of the green-white-checkered attempts. As Gaughan barely saved his own car, the No. 22 kept driving.
“I was worried and I don’t know if it bent something, but it didn’t handle as good the last two laps,” Blaney said.
Blaney was followed by Regan Smith, Brian Scott, Ty Dillon and Gaughan.
How Ryan Blaney won: The part-time Penske driver mastered his restarts and didn’t allow anyone to best him all night, including on two green-white-checkered attempts during which his No. 22 suffered damage to a rear fender. Blaney made it to the checkered before disaster struck.
Who else had a good race: After starting at the rear, Erik Jones bounced back from a pit road accident with Darrell Wallace Jr. during the race’s second caution to finish fourth …. Daniel Suarez also bounced back. The pole-sitter had to pit on Lap 103 for a tire going down, lost a lap and didn’t get it back until Lap 204 and would finish sixth … Brendan Gaughan stayed near the front most of the night and kept from wrecking with Blaney on the first green-white-checkered before finishing fifth.
Who had a bad race: Points leader Chris Buescher had to pit for damage received during one green-white-checkered attempt and finished 13th … Kenny Wallace, making his final NASCAR start, wrecked with Cale Conley on a restart with 41 laps to go. Darrell Wallace Jr. started the incident by tapping Kenny Wallace’s left rear. The latter Wallace finished 15th after being involved in another accident with three laps left … With 21 laps left, Chase Elliott and Brandon Jones crashed coming down the frontstretch. Elliott, who entered the weekend second in points, managed to finish ninth.
Elliott Sadler started 15th and during the race’s first caution was caught speeding on pit road for the first time in 2015. He finished 11th … Michael Self, in his first Xfinity Series start, hit the wall and brought out the race’s second caution. … Ben Rhodes, who started 13th, had a hard crash with 10 laps remaining to set up the green-white-checkered attempts.
Notables: Blaney is the 10th different race winner in 2015 … Saturday’s race set an Xfinity Series record at Iowa Speedway by going the first 75 laps without a caution … This was only the third green-white-checkered finish of the Xfinity Series’ season.
Quote of the night: “It was miserable. I let my guys down. I got into Erik (Jones) on pit road and that put us into a corner. I just hate it, I screwed up tonight. Just paying for it.” – Darrell Wallace Jr. after being involved in three different accidents Saturday night.
Up next: Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International, Aug. 8 at 3 pm ET on NBCSN