Defending NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drubbed the field once again to win Sunday’s Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 at Iowa Speedway.
It was the sixth career victory in 83 NNS starts for the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing driver and his third straight triumph at Iowa. Stenhouse led 209 of 250 laps, as he truly had the field covered from the early stages of the race.
“That was dominant,” said Stenhouse. “... All in all, a great day. Three in a row here in Iowa. I can’t believe we got two in a row and now three. It’s a great day.”
Elliott Sadler and his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet prevailed over in a terrific three-way fight for second over Michael McDowell’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, with Austin Dillon and Kurt Busch completing the top five.
Stenhouse has three victories this season and nine consecutive finishes of sixth or better.
Sadler started from the pole, but it was second-qualifier Sam Hornish Jr. who burst into the lead on the opening lap. Before long, though, Stenhouse, who won both races here last year, was on his bumper.
Stenhouse went under Hornish in Turn 1 on Lap 31, quickly pulling away in his Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang.
By Lap 60, Stenhouse had extended his lead over Hornish’s Penske Racing Dodge to 4.169 seconds, and three laps later, McDowell took over second from Hornish.
Danica Patrick lost a right-front tire shortly before halfway, and under caution Cole Whitt used a two-tire stop to briefly take the lead, but it was only a couple of laps before Stenhouse was back out front.
All told, Stenhouse led 111 of the first 150 laps.
On Lap 180, Tayler Malsem hit the wall to bring out a caution. Stenhouse held the lead on pit road, ahead of Busch, McDowell, Sadler and Austin Dillon.
On the restart on Lap 188, Busch got the jump and went to the lead, but went up the hill three laps later, allowing Stenhouse and Sadler to get by, as he battled Justin Allgaier and Dillon for third place.
The track went yellow again after Travis Pastrana stalled, with Allgaier the only one of the leaders to pit.
But no one had anything for Stenhouse, as he cruised to an easy victory. He extended his points lead to 28 over Sadler and 43 on Dillon.
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100.