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Nationwide: Stenhouse wrecks to win

7 August 2011

It's safe to say that Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s second Nationwide Series win was unlike any other: it culminated in a blown engine and a mutual wreck with his Roush Fenway team mate Carl Edwards after neither man would back down in his determination to get to the finish line of the US Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway in first place.

The two had been engaged in a lengthy battle all evening, after they had a fierce tangle for the lead and also sideswiped each other midrace while battling for position. There didn't seem anything too friendly in their ongoing battle for position all evening, with Stenhouse vowing at one point "He's done when I get to him" after feeling that Edwards had cut him up.

Both drivers seemed hellbent on getting and keeping the lead: Edwards would be out front for 109 laps in total, while Stenhouse only took the lead for more than the odd lap during pit stops when it got to the final 22 laps of the race, and he was determined not to give it up. When Carl Edwards emerged close behind in second place in the closing lap it looked like the former champion was set to pull off a crowd-thrilling last-corner overtaking dive.

Instead, Stenhouse's engine blew as he came off turn four, which lay down oil on the track and caught out Edwards who ploughed straight into the back of the #6 and sent them both spinning. Fortunately for both drivers they were spinning and sliding in the right direction - toward the finish line - and third placed man Elliott Sadler, who had started from pole, was simply too far back to take advantage of the situation.

"If he wouldn't have hit us, we definitely would have ended up second," said Stenhouse, whose other Nationwide Series victory also came at Iowa, earlier this year. "I knew we had enough momentum to get there. I just wasn't sure if we were going to be first or second. It worked out that we were first."

Stenhouse joins Edwards, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski (neither of whom were racing at Iowa this week) as a multiple winner in this year's Nationwide season. Stenhouse had completed 17 of the 22 races so far in the top ten, which attests not only to his race-winning speed but to his consistency as well.

In Edwards' view, however, "He's just being a little bit overaggressive." They had words last week and while he insists that "Ricky and I are fine," it's clear that this has the potential to flare up into something more serious.

Not that team owner Jack Roush seems to mind. In fact, he's probably delighted by Stenhouse's performance all around, especially as he's looking for a new lead Nationwide driver in 2012 after Edwards announced he was scaling back on the series next year to focus on his Sprint Cup racing from now on.

"Jack came over and said, 'Hey, this is exactly what's supposed to be happening!'" said Edwards. "'You're supposed to have a young guy who's fast and is frustrating everybody because he's too aggressive.' Ricky - he's really, really fast."

Stenhouse now leads in the Nationwide points standings 11pts ahead of Reed Sorenson, after delivering Roush Fenway's 120th Nationwide victory (more than any other team) albeit in unorthodox fashion. The team's other driver, Trevor Bayne, finished in 25th place seven laps down despite leading 12 laps at the start of the race: he suffered from a loose wheel and major vibration in the later third of the race that cost multiple visits to pit road.

Sam Hornish Jr., filling in for the injured Brad Keselowski at Iowa, finished in 24th place five laps down after suffering a costly flat tyre and an overheating problem that caused a small fire on lap 153. He had been running in fourth place up till then, and had led 38 laps earlier in the race.

Other cautions in the race were for Justin Allgaier brushing the wall with a blown tyre on lap 21, Jamie Dick hitting the wall on lap 47 and collecting Eric McClure, a tyre problem for Mike Wallace on lap 99, debris on lap 184 and Blake Koch hitting the wall on lap 218 causing Robert Richardson Jr. to spin to avoid him.

Camping World Truck Series driver David Mayhew finished an impressive tenth place in his Nationwide Series d├ębut and even led for four laps.

Full race results and times from qualifying and practice available.


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