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Ryan Blaney caps off dominant run with inaugural Cup Series victory at Iowa

The reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney made Iowa Speedway his “Field of Dreams” for the day after he muscled through to a dominant win in the inaugural Iowa Corn 350 on Sunday, June 16.

The 30-year-old Blaney from High Point, North Carolina, led four times for a career-high 201 of 350-scheduled laps in an event where he started on the front row alongside pole-sitter Kyle Larson and led for the first time on the second lap following an early lap skirmish with Larson.

With mixed strategies and tire wear ensuing throughout the event, Blaney, who spent the majority of the event running towards the front and won the first stage period, cycled back into the lead following a two-tire pit stop call during a late caution period with 92 laps remaining. Once he muscled away from the field during the event’s final restart period with 84 laps remaining, he proceeded to weave his way through lapped traffic and fend off a late charge from William Byron and his four fresh tires to triumph for the first time in the 2024 Cup Series season and place both himself and his No. 12 Team Penske Ford team into Playoff contention.

With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup occurring on Saturday, June 15, Kyle Larson notched his fourth Cup pole position of the 2024 season and the 20th of his career after posting a pole-winning lap at 136.458 mph in 23.084 seconds. Joining him on the front row was Ryan Blaney, who clocked in the second-fastest qualifying lap at 136.311 mph in 23.109 seconds.

Prior to the event, Christopher Bell and Austin Cindric dropped to the rear of the field in backup cars after both wrecked their primary cars during Friday’s practice session.

When the green flag waved and the event commenced, the field fanned out through the frontstretch as Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney dueled for the lead through the first two turns and the backstretch. As they continued to duel for the lead through Turns 3 and 4, Larson managed to edge Blaney to lead the first lap. Blaney, however, would assume the lead from Larson during the following lap amid contact with Larson through Turns 3 and 4 and proceeded to lead during the next two laps while the field behind continued to fan out and jostle for early spots.

On the third lap, the event’s first caution period flew after rookie Carson Hocevar got into the rear of teammate/rookie Zane Smith, which got Smith loose and resulted in him getting into teammate Corey LaJoie as LaJoie and his No. 7 Gainbridge/Iowa Hawkeyes Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 entry spun into the outside wall through Turns 1 and 2. During the event’s first caution period, some drivers, including LaJoie, Erik Jones, Michael McDowell and Kaz Grala pitted while the rest, led by Blaney, remained on the track.

When the event restarted under green on the ninth lap, Larson managed to muscle ahead of Blaney and reassume the lead. With Larson ahead of the field with the lead by the Lap 10 mark, Chase Briscoe overtook Blaney for the runner-up spot as teammate Josh Berry and Tyler Reddick battled in the top five ahead of Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, William Byron and Daniel Suarez.

Through the first 20 scheduled laps, Larson extended his advantage, leading by more than a second over Blaney, while Briscoe, Reddick and Kyle Busch trailed in the top five. Behind, Josh Berry occupied sixth place ahead of Joey Logano, Daniel Suarez, William Byron and Justin Haley while Chase Elliott, Ross Chastain, Brad Keselowski, Bubba Wallace and Harrison Burton were racing in the top 15 ahead of AJ Allmendinger, Ryan Preece, Ty Gibbs, Chris Buescher and Alex Bowman. Meanwhile, Noah Gragson was mired in 21st ahead of Denny Hamlin, Austin Cindric, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Corey LaJoie while Todd Gilliland, Martin Truex Jr., Carson Hocevar, Zane Smith and Christopher Bell were in the top 30 on the track.

Ten laps later, Larson stretched his advantage, leading by more than three seconds over Blaney while third-place Briscoe trailed by nine seconds. As Reddick and Berry occupied the top-five spots on the track, Suarez, Byron, Busch, Haley and Logano trailed in the top 10 while Truex, Wallace and Hamlin drifted back to 25th, 27th and 33rd, respectively. In addition, Keselowski, who started in the top five, was mired in 14th behind Ty Gibbs while Cindric and Bell, were up to 23rd and 24th, respectively, after starting at the rear of the field in backup cars,

Another 10 laps later, Larson stabilized his advantage to three seconds over Blaney while Briscoe, Berry and Byron trailed in the top five by 10 seconds. By then, Hamlin, who was mired in 34th place, was lapped by the leaders while Chris Buescher, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Truex, Michael McDowell, Cindric, Allmendinger, Wallace and Austin Dillon were mired outside the top 20 on the track.

At the Lap 50 mark, Larson was mired in lapped traffic and had his advantage shrink to one-and-a-half seconds over runner-up Blaney while third-place Berry and fourth-place Byron trailed by nine seconds. With Briscoe trailing by 10 seconds in fifth place, LaJoie, who was involved in an early spin, was up to 19th place on four fresh tires while Austin Dillon, John Hunter Nemechek and Stenhouse, all of whom were running within the top 30, were lapped by Larson.

A lap later, the event’s second caution period flew when AJ Allmendinger, who was racing in the mid-pack region, ran his No. 16 Action Industries Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 entry straight into the outside wall in between Turns 1 and 2 after he blew a right-front tire. It marked his second wreck of the weekend at Iowa Speedway after he wrecked out of Saturday’s Xfinity Series event due to a blown right-front tire.

During the event’s second caution period, nearly all of the lead lap field led by Larson pitted for fresh tires and fuel while Daniel Suarez and Brad Keselowski remained on the track. Following the pit stops, Larson exited pit road first and was followed by Blaney, Byron, Berry, LaJoie, Elliott, Kyle Busch, Chastain, Wallace and Logano, respectively. Amid the pit stops, Justin Haley was penalized for equipment interference.

The start of the next restart period on Lap 58 featured Larson navigating his way past both Suarez and Keselowski for nearly a lap as he led the proceeding lap. With Larson continuing to lead by the Lap 60 mark, Blaney assumed the runner-up spot while Suarez was trying to fend off Berry, Byron, LaJoie, Keselowski, Logano, Busch and a bevy of competitors for third place. Blaney would then assume the lead from Larson on Lap 61 while Suarez retained third place ahead of Berry, Byron and LaJoie. Despite Ty Gibbs scraping the outside wall entering the backstretch, the event remained under green flag conditions.

When the first stage period concluded on Lap 70, Blaney, who was battling a potential cool suit issue amid the warm temperatures, fended off a late challenge from Larson to capture his second Cup stage victory of the 2024 season. Suarez settled in third place while Byron, Berry, Logano, LaJoie, Keselowski, Elliott and Busch were scored in the top 10.

Under the stage break, a majority of the field led by Suarez and including Keselowski and LaJoie, pitted while the rest led by Blaney remained on the track. Amid the pit stops, Daniel Hemric was penalized for speeding on pit road.

The second stage period started on Lap 77 as Blaney and Larson occupied the front row. At the start, the field fanned out as Larson rocketed ahead of Blaney to reassume the lead. With Larson leading, teammates Byron and Elliott battled for third place along with Logano while Busch was in sixth place ahead of Bowman, Chastain, Briscoe and McDowell. Meanwhile, Bell was up to 11th place while Berry was back in 12th.

Then on Lap 80, the caution returned after John Hunter Nemechek and Noah Gragson, both of whom were fighting outside the top 20 on the track, made contact entering Turn 4. Nemechek sent Gragson spinning sideways but Gragson managed to quickly straighten his No. 10 Bass Pro Shops Winchester Ford Mustang Dark Horse entry without hitting the wall and continue. During the caution period, Larson, who radioed tire concerns, surrendered the lead to pit for fresh tires for his No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 entry as Blaney returned atop the leaderboard.

With the event restarting under green on Lap 86, Blaney and Byron dueled for the lead through the first two turns until Blaney managed to clear Byron and muscle ahead through the backstretch. As Elliott got sideways entering the backstretch, Logano charged to the runner-up spot and began to intimidate teammate Blaney for the lead while Byron, Busch, Chastain and Bowman trailed in the top six. With a multitude of competitors jostling for spots within the mid-pack region, Blaney retained the lead by two-tenths of a second over teammate Logano just past the Lap 90 mark while Byron and Busch tried to close in.

At the Lap 100 mark, Blaney was leading by a tenth of a second over teammate Logano followed by Byron, Berry and Elliott as Busch, Chastain, McDowell, Bowman and Suarez occupied the top 10. Behind, Briscoe was in 11th ahead of a hard-charging Larson while Wallace, Reddick and Ty Gibbs were battling in the top 15 ahead of Bell, LaJoie, Keselowski, Cindric and Hocevar. Meanwhile, Gragson was trapped in 23rd place behind Preece and Austin Dillon while Truex, Stenhouse, Haley, Gilliland, Nemechek, Hamlin and Buescher were mired in the top 30.

Fifteen laps later, Blaney stretched his advantage to lead by a second over teammate Logano while Byron, Elliott and Berry trailed by within two seconds in the top five. By then, Larson, who was aggressively weaving and carving his way through the field, had returned to the top-10 mark as he was running in eighth place ahead of teammate Bowman and Suarez while Busch and Chastain occupied sixth and seventh, respectively. Meanwhile, Bell, Wallace, Briscoe, Gibbs and Keselowski trailed in the top 15 while McDowell, who was running in the top 10, was pinned two laps down in 35th place after he pitted his No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang Dark Horse to replace a flat right-front tire.

Another 10 laps later, Blaney stabilized his advantage to more than a second over teammate Logano just before Byron overtook Logano for the runner-up spot, with Elliott and Chastain trailing by within three seconds in the top five on the track. Blaney led by one-and-a-half seconds over Byron just past the Lap 130 mark and by a second at the Lap 140 mark. By then, Busch, who was running in the top 10, had pitted his No. 8 zone/Kwik Trip Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 entry under green on Lap 135.

By Lap 150, Blaney continued to lead by more than a second over Elliott as Byron, Logano and Larson followed suit in the top five. By then, Hamlin was mired a lap down for a second time in 27th place while Bell was up to sixth place as he had Berry, Chastain, Bowman and Wallace following suit.

Ten laps later, LaJoie and Austin Dillon made contact while battling within the top-20 mark that sent Dillon up the track towards Turns 3 and 4 but he kept his No. 3 Get Bioethanol Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 entry running straight as he then ran into the rear of LaJoie to express his displeasure over the contact. Amid the contact, Blaney retained the lead by seven-tenths of a second over Elliott while Byron, Larson and Bell trailed in the top five by nearly five seconds.

Then as Byron pitted his No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 entry under green from third place on Lap 165, trouble struck for Chastain as he went up the track through Turns 1 and 2 with a flat right-front tire to his No. 1 Busch Light For the Farmers Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 entry. Chastain, though, managed to limp his car to his pit stall without drawing a caution as LaJoie, Briscoe, Truex and Berry also pitted during the proceeding laps. Not long after, Truex was penalized for speeding on pit road.

By Lap 172 and with more green flag pit stops ensuing amid tire wear concerns within the field, Blaney surrendered the lead to pit his No. 12 Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang Dark Horse entry under green. Elliott, who led the proceeding lap, pitted his No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 entry during the following lap along with teammate Bowman, Gibbs, Grala and Austin Dillon before Larson pitted as Erik Jones limped his No. 43 Family Dollar Toyota Camry XSE entry to pit road with a flat tire.

As the event surpassed its halfway mark on Lap 175, more names including Logano, Gragson, Nemechek and Reddick would pit while Bell, who last pitted on Lap 54, cycled into the lead. Bell would then pit his No. 20 Rheem Toyota Camry XSE entry on Lap 180 before Suarez and Haley pitted during the next scheduled lap. This moved Keselowski into the lead.

Then on Lap 181, the caution flew after Hemric made contact with the outside wall in Turn 2. During the caution period, select names led by Keselowski and including Wallace, Hocevar, Gilliland, Buescher, Hamlin, Suarez, Haley and Hemric pitted while the rest led by Stenhouse, who pinned many competitors a lap down by remaining on the track during the previous green flag run, remained on the track.

As the event restarted under green on Lap 188, Stenhouse and Byron battled for the lead for nearly a lap until they nearly wrecked entering Turn 4, which allowed Larson to zip by both and return to the lead. With Larson leading, Berry moved his No. 4 Ford Mustang Dark Horse entry up to second place followed by Wallace and Elliott while Stenhouse was trying to fend off fifth place from a multitude of competitors. Larson would proceed to lead just past the Lap 190 mark while he was being intimidated by Berry.

By Lap 200, Larson extended his advantage to one-and-a-half seconds over Berry, who had Elliott pressuring him for the runner-up spot, while Blaney and Wallace occupied the top five. Meanwhile, Hamlin, who was lapped twice, was up to sixth place followed by Buescher, Gilliland, Keselowski and Stenhouse while Byron was back in 12th place behind Haley. In addition, Busch was in 14th while battling Hocevar, Bell was in 17th behind Suarez and Bell, Logano was in 18th while trying to overtake Bell and Chastain, the first competitor a lap down, was mired in 19th. In addition, Reddick was in 24th and Briscoe was mired in 29th in front of Truex.

When the second stage period concluded on Lap 210, Larson captured his eighth Cup stage victory of the 2024 season. Berry fended off Elliott to retain second place ahead of Blaney and Wallace while Hamlin, Buescher, Gilliland, Keselowski and Haley were scored in the top 10. By then, 18 of 36 starters were scored a lap down while 19th-place Chastain was the recipient of the free pass for being the first competitor scored a lap down during the caution period.

During the stage break, nearly the entire field led by Larson pitted while Buescher and Gilliland remained on the track. Following the pit stops, Keselowski exited pit road first after he only opted for a two-tire pit stop while Larson, Berry, Elliott, Suarez, Wallace, Hamlin, Blaney, Byron and Haley followed suit.

With 132 laps remaining, the final stage commenced as teammates Buescher and Keselowski occupied the front row. At the start and with the field fanning out, Buescher maintained the lead ahead of Gilliland and Berry while Keselowski slipped to fourth. Then entering the frontstretch, the caution quickly returned after Larson, who was pinned in the middle of a three-wide battle with Keselowski and Suarez, got sideways after Suarez hit Larson, which resulted in Larson getting loose and coming across the path of Hamlin’s No. 11 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry XSE.

Both wrecked against the outside wall, with Larson spinning across the frontstretch while the rest of the field scattered to avoid hitting Larson. The incident would cost Larson multiple laps as his pit crew went to work to repair the damage in his pit stall. With Larson then being assessed an additional two-lap penalty for having too many crew members over the pit wall, he would take his No. 5 Chevrolet to the garage for repairs but was granted permission to return to the track following his repairs due to meeting the minimum speed under the Damaged Vehicle Policy.

With the next restart period occurring with 123 laps remaining, Buescher and Berry dueled for the lead for a full lap as Berry, who was racing up the outside lane, led the proceeding lap before Buescher, who had Berry slide in front of him during the previous lap, slid in front of Berry in retaliation to reassume the lead during the next lap. Berry, however, kept intimidating Buescher for the lead while Busch, Gilliland, Keselowski and Byron trailed closely in the top six with 120 laps remaining. Berry would then muscle away from Buescher during the proceeding five laps while Byron carved his way up to third place as he was being trailed by Keselowski, Elliott, Blaney, Gilliland, Busch, Suarez and others.

Down to the final 100 laps of the event, Berry was leading by two seconds over a side-by-side battle between Blaney and Byron while Elliott and Buescher trailed in the top five ahead of Keselowski, Suarez, Logano, Haley and Busch. Meanwhile, Bowman occupied 11th place ahead of Chastain, Gilliland, Stenhouse and Bell while Wallace, Hocevar and McDowell occupied the remaining 18 competitors scored on the lead lap as Hamlin, who was in 19th, was lapped for a third time.

Nine laps later, the caution returned after Buescher, who was running in fifth, scrubbed his No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang Dark Horse against the outside wall through Turns 1 and 2 after he lost a tire. During the caution period, the lead lap field led by Berry returned to pit road for service. Following the pit stops, Blaney exited pit road first after he opted for a two-tire pit stop along with teammate Logano and Stenhouse while Berry, the first competitor who opted for four fresh tires, followed suit in fourth ahead of Elliott, Byron, Suarez, Busch, Haley and Bowman.

The start of the next restart period with 84 laps remaining featured Blaney battling and having enough momentum to clear teammate Logano to lead the next lap while Stenhouse, Byron and Berry followed suit in the top five. As the field behind jostled for late positions, Busch, who was racing in the top 10, scrubbed the backstretch’s outside wall and he would pit under green with 80 laps remaining, which dropped him out of the lead lap category. Shortly after, Busch’s chances of making the 2024 Cup Series Playoffs took another hit after he took his car to the garage and retired due to another mechanical issue to his No. 8 Chevrolet. Amid Busch’s issues, Blaney retained the lead while Stenhouse and Byron overtook Logano to move into second and third, respectively.

With 60 laps remaining, Blaney continued to lead by eight-tenths of a second over Byron while Elliott, Stenhouse and Logano trailed in the top five. Blaney would stabilize his advantage to seven-tenths of a second over Byron with 50 laps remaining while Elliott, Stenhouse and Logano continued to race in the top five.

With 35 laps remaining, Blaney retained the lead by nine-tenths of a second over Byron while third-place Elliott trailed by a second-and-a-half. As Stenhouse and Logano continued to race in the top five, Bell trailed in sixth place by seven seconds while Berry, Suarez, Chastain and Bowman were in the top 10, with Haley situated in 11th place ahead of Keselowski, McDowell, Gilliland and Truex.

Down to the final 20 laps of the event, Blaney, who nearly had his steady advantage extinguished while mired in lapped traffic, most notably Ty Gibbs, extended his advantage back to nine-tenths of a second over Byron while Elliott, Byron’s teammate, trailed by a second as he started to close in on Byron for the runner-up spot. Behind, Bell moved up to fourth place ahead of Stenhouse and Logano while McDowell, who was racing in the top 15, pitted under green a few laps earlier to address a flat tire for the second time within the event. Gibbs and John Hunter Nemechek would also pit under green as Blaney maintained the lead by a second over Byron’s No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet with 15 laps remaining.

Under the final 10 laps of the event, Blaney, who was mired in more lapped traffic despite proceeding to lap Wallace and Gragson, maintained his lead by seven-tenths of a second over a hard-charging Byron as Elliott continued to trail by a second in third place. Blaney, who would close in and lap Truex, would then have his advantage shrink to six-tenths of a second as Byron continued to close in on Blaney with five laps remaining.

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Blaney remained as the leader by seven-tenths of a second over Byron. With Byron unable to close the deficit even narrower, Blaney was able to cycle his No. 12 Advance Auto Parts Ford smoothly around the Iowa circuit for a final time before he returned to the frontstretch and claimed his first elusive checkered flag of the 2024 Cup Series season.

With the victory, Blaney, who nearly won at World Wide Technology Raceway until he ran out of fuel while leading on the final lap two races ago, notched his 11th Cup Series career win and his first since winning at Martinsville Speedway in late October 2023. By becoming the 10th competitor overall to record a victory through the first 17 events of the 2024 Cup season, Blaney has guaranteed himself a spot into the 2024 Playoffs as he will commence his pursuit to defend his series’ title.

As an added bonus, Blaney, who racked up the second victory of the season for Team Penske and the third ever for the Ford Mustang Dark Horse stock car, is the first competitor to achieve a victory across NASCAR’s top three national touring series. He claimed his first Craftsman Truck Series career win at Iowa in September 2012 and would win an Xfinity event at the 7/8-mile short track in August 2015.

Photo by Ron Olds for

“Man, what a cool way to win here,” Blaney, who had 80 family members rooting for him in the grandstands, said on USA Network. “This place, it means a lot to me. It means a lot to my mom. We had a lot of people here tonight cheering us on. They wheeled us to that [win]. Overall, [I] really appreciate the whole No. 12 boys. Our car was really fast all night. We got a little bit better through the night with two [fresh] tires. It was a good call there. I didn’t know how well [the car] was going to hold on. I started to struggle a little bit at the end, but had to definitely hang on. So proud of the effort. It makes up a little bit from a couple weeks ago. I’m looking forward to seeing [the family members]. It’s always good to have family. I’ve been super lucky to have family that supported me through my career. It’s great that they’re still supporting me just as much as they did day one. It’s a cool weekend. Really cool to win the first Cup race here. I can’t wait we come back with many more years.”

Byron, who recorded his first Xfinity Series victory at Iowa in June 2017, settled in second place for his sixth top-five result of the season while teammate Elliott, who notched his first ARCA Menards Series East victory at Iowa in 2012, ended up in third place for his seventh top-five result of 2024.

“[Me and Blaney] were pretty even,” Byron said. “He was on two tires, so I think I had just a little bit fresher tires and was able to work the bottom [lane] through lapped traffic okay. [I] Felt like I was making marginal gains through [Turns] 1 and 2, but my tires were getting hot down there and I would just start sliding the rears around a little bit on entry. Really good effort by our team. We definitely need to put together some consistent runs and this is a good start. We’d love to be winning tonight, but Ryan [Blaney] and those guys were good, so congrats to them.”  

“[The event] was a lot of surprises that [I] wasn’t really sure what to expect with the tire,” Elliott said. “The racetrack changed a lot, I thought, throughout the day. The lanes changed a lot. We were able to move around. I thought it was actually a much better race than I was anticipating being with the repave. I thought all of that was really good. Ultimately, really proud of our NAPA team and just continuing to put together solid days. Just need a little bit more to set the pace and be up there leading laps like I feel like we can. It’s nice to be in the fight and have a shot there in the closing laps.”

Christopher Bell rallied from starting at the rear of the field in a backup car to finish fourth followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as Joey Logano, rookie Josh Berry, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez and Brad Keselowski finished in the top 10.

There were 17 lead changes for nine different leaders. The race featured eight cautions for 49 laps. In addition, 14 of 36 starters finished on the lead lap.

Following the 17th event of the 2024 Cup Series season, Chase Elliott leads the regular-season standings by eight points over teammate Kyle Larson, 38 over Denny Hamlin, 54 over William Byron, 61 over Martin Truex Jr., 64 over Tyler Reddick and 90 over Ryan Blaney.


1. Ryan Blaney, 201 laps led, Stage 1 winner

2. William Byron

3. Chase Elliott, one lap led

4. Christopher Bell, seven laps led

5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., four laps led

6. Joey Logano

7. Josh Berry, 32 laps led

8. Alex Bowman

9. Daniel Suarez, four laps led

10. Brad Keselowski, five laps led

11. Ross Chastain

12. Todd Gilliland

13. Justin Haley

14. Carson Hocevar

15. Martin Truex Jr., one lap down

16. Noah Gragson, one lap down

17. Bubba Wallace, one lap down

18. Chris Buescher, one lap down, 16 laps led

19. Austin Dillon, one lap down

20. Harrison Burton, one lap down

21. Corey LaJoie, one lap down

22. Tyler Reddick, one lap down

23. Michael McDowell, one lap down

24. Denny Hamlin, two laps down

25. Ty Gibbs, two laps down

26. John Hunter Nemechek, two laps down

27. Ryan Preece, two laps down

28. Chase Briscoe, two laps down

29. Daniel Hemric, two laps down

30. Austin Cindric, three laps down

31. Zane Smith, three laps down

32. Erik Jones, three laps down

33. Kaz Grala, five laps down

34. Kyle Larson, 36 laps down, 80 laps led, Stage 2 winner

35. Kyle Busch – OUT, Water Pump

36. AJ Allmendinger – OUT, Accident

Next on the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the series’ annual visit to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire, for the USA Today 301. The event is scheduled to occur next Sunday, June 23, and at 2:30 p.m. ET on USA Network.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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