NASCAR Cup Series
NASCAR takeaways: Ryan Blaney captures inaugural Cup race at Iowa
NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR takeaways: Ryan Blaney captures inaugural Cup race at Iowa

Published Jun. 17, 2024 12:20 a.m. ET

NEWTON, Iowa — Ryan Blaney saw a win slip through his hands two weeks ago when he ran out of gas with about 1.5 miles remaining, but he had all the fuel, and certainly the speed, he needed Sunday night to capture the inaugural Cup race at Iowa Speedway.

The Team Penske driver is coming off a championship season and he seems to be handling the disappointments better this year now that he has a championship ring.

"A lot of last year taught me ... just trying to get better at the ups and downs through the week and not just beat yourself up over things," Blaney said as his first victory of the season locked him into the 2024 playoffs.

"[I'm] just sticking with things and looking forward going into the next week. Last year taught me a lot of that. I've tried to apply that this year when you have a bad run."


Blaney had not had a top-5 in his last eight races and wrecked out at Darlington and Charlotte before running out of gas while leading at Gateway and then a seventh-place finish last week at Sonoma.

"Even when we wrecked at Darlington and Charlotte, I was bummed but I'm not festering over it for days on end," Blaney said. "I just kind of move on from it and figure out how we need to get better."

Blaney did say that as he approached the end of the race at Iowa, his history this season meant he wasn't counting on anything as he led 201 of the 350 laps on the way to the win.

"Normally in my mind, it's just get to the white [flag for the final lap]," Blaney said. "And now I don't care about getting to the white, let's get to the checkered [flag].

"The pain of two weeks ago just pops up in your head. I tried to forget about it." 

Takeaways from Iowa, where Blaney crossed the finish line ahead of William Byron, Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Iowa Corn 350 Powered by Ethanol highlights

Larson Wipes Out With Top Car

Larson sat on the pole and led 80 laps even though he had an early pit stop under green for what he thought was a loose or flat tire. But with 80 laps remaining, he tried to squeeze between Daniel Suarez and Brad Keselowski and ended up having contact with Suarez and being turned into Hamlin ahead of him.

"I had room," Larson said. "We made it until the middle of the corner. I'm not sure if Suarez got loose underneath me or what happened. He just got into my left rear and cut me kind of out of control."

Suarez said he expected Larson and Keselowski to turn higher in the groove.

"During the race, I was so confused — I didn't know exactly what happened; I didn't know if I went up or he came down," Suarez said. "I just saw the replay for the very first time and I noticed that the 6 [of Keselowski] was the one that was on the outside. He had like a quarter of a car from the wall because he was trying to pinch down the 5 [of Larson] and the 5 had another quarter of a car to the 6, trying to pinch me down.

"I was expecting those two guys to be closer to the wall like everyone else. I'm the one that made contact with the 5 and I feel terribly for that, but they were lower than what I was expecting."

Larson finished 36 laps down in 34th.

"I haven't seen a replay yet, but I guess I could have just not gone to the middle and been more patient knowing how fast my car was and knowing who I was around," Larson said. "I wanted to get as many cars as I could in the beginning of that little run and it just probably ended up biting me."

Larson-Hamlin Weird Tangle

Larson was surprised when on Lap 172, he was bumped by Denny Hamlin. Larson was able to save the car and not lose many spots.

"He just lightly got in the back of me and got me up the racetrack," Larson said. "I doubt it was intentional. I wouldn't see why it would be intentional."

Hamlin said it wasn't intentional.

"It was my mistake," he said. "I gassed up too soon and ran into the back of him. I'm glad he held on to it."

Big Stenhouse and Berry days

Stenhouse's fifth-place finish and Josh Berry's seventh were big top-10 finishes for drivers who needed them.

Both drivers had just one top-5 and two top-10s this year.

Stenhouse: "I really wanted to go battle Blaney there. We got to second, just got a little too loose, and couldn't hold those guys off."

Berry (led 32 laps): "We had some great restarts in there and just that last restart didn't really go our way. We lost a little bit of track position and just could never get it back, but, all in all, just really proud of everybody on [my] team."

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including over 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass.


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