Ryan Blaney wins at Iowa Speedway, ends victory drought

Ryan Blaney finally found his way into the win column this year by leading a career-high 201 laps Sunday night, taking the inaugural Iowa Corn 350 Powered by Ethanol NASCAR Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.

The reigning series champion broke a 17-streak winless streak by taking two tires on his No. 12 Ford on the final pit stop while most of the field took four, including runner-up finisher William Byron.

But in the season’s 17th event, the 30-year-old Blaney became the 10th different winner by beating Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet by 0.716 seconds.

The Team Penske driver went winless in 2022 and now has 11 victories — two on a short track.

Following Byron were Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The tire problems that surfaced in Friday’s practice, when a few teams had their cars blow tires and hit the wall, finally showed up with 19 circuits to go in the 70-lap Stage 1.

As polesitter Kyle Larson topped the field around the 0.875-mile short track, AJ Allmendinger’s No. 16 Chevrolet popped a right front tire and smacked the Turn 1 wall.

Larson emerged from the ensuing pit stops in third as Daniel Suarez and Brad Keselowski stayed out on their original tires to win stage points.

However, that strategy largely failed as Larson and Blaney easily passed the duo. Blaney beat Larson for the top playoff bonus points in the 70-lap segment, while Suarez managed third and Keselowski eighth.

Tire failures took place for Larson, Ross Chastain and Erik Jones as pitting began at Lap 166. Leader Blaney came in on Lap 172 and the fifth caution waved on Lap 182 before pit stops cycled around.

Larson regained the point late in Stage 2 and pulled away for his series-high eighth stage win, while Josh Berry and Elliott followed him to the line.

However, Larson’s chances of winning came to an end on a Lap 219 restart when he went three-wide in the middle and bumped Suarez’s No. 99, turning the No. 5 into Denny Hamlin’s Toyota. Larson’s Chevy subsequently banged the Turn 4 wall.