Stenhouse beats Cup All-Stars in Iowa
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. held off Sprint Cup drivers Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski to win Sunday's NASCAR Nationwide series race in Iowa, becoming the first series regular to pick up a victory this season.
Stenhouse took the lead from Edwards 233 laps into the 250-lap event at Iowa Speedway and held off the only Cup regulars in the field for his first career Nationwide win.
Edwards, who won the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte on Saturday night, finished second. Keselowski, who captured the inaugural Nationwide event at Iowa in 2009, was third, followed by Reed Sorenson and Elliott Sadler.
Kenny Wallace, whose brother Rusty designed Iowa's 7/8th-mile oval, joined Jason Keller as the only drivers to run 500 Nationwide races. He finished a season-best sixth.
Roush-Fenway teammates Stenhouse and Edwards swapped the lead a number of times down the stretch, but Stenhouse slipped free late and beat Edwards by over four seconds.
For the Nationwide series drivers, Iowa provided their best chance yet to pick up that elusive first win. That breakthrough was provided by Stenhouse, who earned his first victory in 51 starts.
''I'm very happy for Ricky,'' Keselowski said. ''It's good to see a Nationwide regular come out there and win a race. It's been a little while.''
Justin Allgaier, who started in the back after wrecking his main car in practice, stayed out while others were pitting and took a brief lead about 40 laps from the finish. Brian Scott then spun out in front of the leaders, drawing out a caution flag that put Edwards back in front with Stenhouse.
Though it appeared Edwards would eventually grab the lead and pull off the weekend sweep, Stenhouse's No. 6 car simply had more speed than his teammate's No. 60.
The field was set on owner's points with qualifying rained out. That put Drew Herring of Joe Gibbs Racing on the pole, even though Herring hadn't run a Nationwide race all year until he got to Iowa.
Herring started strong, leading for the first 38 laps before being passed Michael McDowell in Kyle Busch's No. 18 Toyota. McDowell led for 19 laps, more than double the total he had in 72 previous series starts.
McDowell was seventh and Herring finished 12th.
Sunday marked the first time three women ran the same Nationwide race. Veteran Jennifer Jo Cobb started along with the Cope twins, Angela and Amber, who were making their series debuts.
Both Copes ran into trouble midway through the race - spinning out in eerily similar fashion. Cobb was 26th, Angela finished 28th and Amber was 32nd.
This was the first of two Nationwide events at Iowa this season after the relatively new track drew strong crowds for solo races in 2009 and 2010. The track drew another sellout crowd Sunday, and officials are optimistic they could draw even more fans for the second race in August.