Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and the track at the Iowa Speedway have something going. Stenhouse got his first pole and first Nationwide win there, and is now looking for his fourth consecutive victory at the track as he competes in the U.S. Cellular 250.
Stenhouse led for 41 laps at the Iowa Speedway back in May of 2011 for his first victory, beating Carl Edwards by 0.435 seconds at the finish. Three months later, he and Edwards finished one-two again as Stenhouse led for 25 laps. Earlier this year, Stenhouse ran away with the race, leading for 209 of 250 laps.
Stenhouse enters this particular go-round in Iowa as the odds-on favorite with 3-2 odds on Bovada to win. He’ll be challenged by Kurt Busch (11-4), Elliot Sadler (11-2) and Austin Dillon (13-2).
The 0.875-mile oval in Newton, Iowa, is in its fourth year hosting the event. In addition to Stenhouse's 2011 triumph in a time of 2:11:20, past winners include Busch in 2010 with a time of 2:05:56 and Brad Keselowski in 2009 with a time of 2:22:53. Sadler finished third last year.
Stenhouse is challenging for his second Nationwide title. A victory in Iowa would put him in an excellent position to reach that goal. He’s currently third in the standings, 13 points behind Sadler and 12 behind Dillon.
Busch is the most recent multiple-time winner at one track. Between 2008 and 2010, he won five consecutive races at Texas. Win or lose, this could be Stenhouse’s last race in Iowa, as he’s possibly moving to the Sprint Cup Series next season.
Other racers in contention this year include Sam Hornish Jr. (10-1), Michael McDowell (12-1), Justin Allgaier (13-1), Brendan Gaughan (14-1) and Jason Leffler (22-1). If you don’t like any of those odds, the rest of the field is going off at 7-1.
The Nationwide race runs Saturday night, it should be quite a thriller to see who takes the checkered flag.