Ryan Blaney did everything that he could in the final stretch to the checkered to get by, however it wouldn’t be enough as Erik Jones would hold him off to score the victory in the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway. It marks Jones’ first victory of the 2014 season and the second victory of his career in nine career starts.
“That was awesome,” Jones commented. “We definitely drove it hard and there was nothing left in that thing at the end. Great race there with Ryan, great guy to race against; he raced me hard and clean, and we showed a lot of respect to each other.”
A caution would fly with 75 laps to go for Eric Claudell would go around into the infield after contact from Bryan Silas. Blaney would lead the field down pit road, with Jones winning the race off pit road ahead of Blaney, German Quiroga and Joey Coulter. Jones would get the advantage on the restart, pulling out ahead of Blaney. As the laps ticked down, though, Blaney would close the gap.
With 16 laps to go, Blaney would get to the inside of Jones as Jones gets stuck in heavy lap traffic going into turn one. As they came off the corner, Jones squeezes it three-wide in the middle of the lap truck and Blaney as they all get sorts of sideways. Down the backstretch, though, Jones would the advantage and get a small gap on Blaney, which he’d hold the rest of the way to the checkered flag.
“We came out of the pits first and got the lead. Got out, took off and he run us back down and finally got side-by-side, little contact but nothing more than a little short track racing,” Jones recalled the final dash to the checkered in victory lane.
Jones’ win marks the third straight victory for Kyle Busch Motorsports, following Wallace Jr.’s victory at Gateway and Kyle Busch’s victory a couple weeks ago in Kentucky. It marks the seventh victory overall for KBM this year.
Toyota also keeps their impressive streak going as they have dominated this year with their drivers scoring the victory in each of the nine races thus far this season. It marks Toyota’s 11th straight victory dating back to Jones’ win at Phoenix last year.
Blaney would hold on to second scoring his seventh top-10 of the 2014 season as he moves up to second in points, two points behind Matt Crafton.
“It’s hard to tell now but if we came off with the lead, it may have played differently,” Blaney commented. “But he was good on the short run and was able to get out there. We made a change and it sort of helped that, but I kept getting tight when I got closer to him. We’re making strides but just came up a little short.”
Crafton took the points lead after out-dueling Joey Coulter to the line for the third spot, keeping Crafton’s perfect record of a top-10 in each Iowa start going.
“Our guys have working really hard and we’ve beeen getting better each week,” Coulter commented. “We’ve been running good but just haven’t put the whole thing together. Now tonight we had a great run and I woke up out of bed in a good mood so it was a good night. Glad that we’re on a role. I think these next few races are going to be good for us.”
“I’d look a lot better in victory lane,” Crafton said. “We missed a little tonight but all in all, it was a good night. It was a third place truck and I guess that’s where we finished tonight. I think we have a little to learn before we start to catch the other two tonight.”
German Quiroga would battle to a fifth place finish after getting into the wall early in the event.
“First of all, I want to thank everyone who showed up – all the fans,” Quiroga commented. “We have been really fast right out of the box at every track. Here, we struggled to be honest. We tried to get faster, but didn’t get that good. However, we knew we had a good truck and we battled hard and got a good top-five.”
Rookie Ben Kennedy finished sixth, followed by Jeff Choquette, Cole Custer, Tyler Reddick and John Hunter Nemechek.
Pole sitter Darrell Wallace Jr. would finish 13th after going down two laps when the caution came out after he had made his green flag pit stop; Wallace Jr. led the first 41 laps.
Johnny Sauter came in as the points leader, but slips to third in points after battling an ill-handling truck all-day en route to a 18th place finish, two laps down.
Being a short track, the night didn’t go without tempers being shown as Ron Hornaday and Timothy Peters got together early in the race. Coming off of turn four, the pair were battling side-by-side when Peters slid up, thinking he was clear but wasn’t, therefore resulting in both drivers getting into the wall. Peters, thinking he wasn’t raced cleanly, would spin Hornaday the following lap in turn four. Peters would finish 31st after spending laps behind the wall for repairs, while Hornaday finished 21st.