Brad Keselowski survived a late restart during which he briefly lost the lead to Michael McDowell to win the Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway.
Keselowski had seemed in command in the closing laps after domination most of the race in his No. 22 Team Penske Ford. But when James Buescher slammed into the wall going into Turn 1 with seven laps to go, Keselowski had to stave off a fierce challenge from the surprsing McDowell, who was driving the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
McDowell then had to fend off pole-sitter Trevor Bayne for second, with Bayne finishing third. Sam Hornish Jr. and Ty Dillon rounded out the top five.
Keselowski, the Sprint Cup driver commuting from Pocono in Pennsylvania, led 146 of 250 laps for his third Nationwide victory of the season and second in two starts.
Keselowski was set to cruise to an easy win when James Buescher’s crash erased his lead. But Keselowski went high to overtake McDowell and held on for his 30th series victory.
Points leader Chase Elliott finished eighth. He leads Regan Smith by two points.
Keselowski won for the third time at the track. He won the inaugural race five years ago and topped Hornish last season.
Keselowski’s success on Iowa’s short track — along with a front-row spot next to Bayne and six consecutive top-three finishes in NASCAR’s second-tier series — had him pegged as the heavy favorite from the moment the green flag dropped.
The lone Sprint Cup driver in the field didn’t disappoint.
Keselowski and Hornish swapped the lead much of the night, with Keselowski taking control two-thirds of the way through the race.
Dakoda Armstrong’s blown tire less than 70 laps from the finish gave the front-runners a chance to make pit stops. Keselowski won the race off pit road and appeared to have the race locked up until the final caution put him in jeopardy.
Bayne won his first pole of the season earlier Saturday and led the first 31 laps, besting his total for the entire season just minutes into the race. Keselowski then grabbed first before Elliott Sadler took the lead by staying on the track with older tires during a caution.
Hornish, who led 167 of 250 laps to win the first race in Iowa in May, subsequently blew past Sadler for first. He was followed by Keselowski in a setup that mirrored last year’s race in Iowa.
Keselowski also put himself in position for a weekend sweep after qualifying third for Sunday’s race in Pocono.
Keselowski flew from Pennsylvania to Iowa about three hours before the race and flew right back to Pocono after the race, this time clutching yet another trophy.