What a full and diverse night of racing fans were treated to on Saturday. There was so much on the menu, including ARCA at Salem, IndyCar at Fontana and Nationwide/Trucks at Chicagoland and Iowa respectively.
It's the latter two that I want to share my thoughts on before going to bed, especially the incredibly exciting Camping World Truck Series race from Iowa.
Ryan Blaney became the youngest winner in NASCAR history when he won the American Ethanol 200 Saturday night at Iowa Speedway. Blaney broke the age record of 20 years, 18 days set by Kyle Busch in 2005 at Charlotte.
Blaney held off Ty Dillon a restart with three laps to go and won by the slimmest of margins, .168 of a second, in just the third start of his Camping World Truck Series career. His previous starts came in the prior two races, at Bristol and Atlanta, where Blaney finished sixth and 11th for Brad Keselowski Racing.
It's slightly ironic that Keselowski's driver beat him to victory lane before Brad could get there himself. But that is a stat that will take care of itself in a few years. It's also a testament to Ryan Blaney's talent that he was able to win in just three starts. It goes without saying, but I'll write it anyway.
Ryan Blaney is going to be a star for a long time.
The championship battle suffered a major consolidation during the course of Saturday night's race and ended with Ty Dillon atop the standings.
Timothy Peters entered the race with a six-point championship advantage but fell from the lead after a crash on lap 34. Peters squeezed Matt Crafton on the exit of turn four, forcing both trucks into the wall. Peters salvaged a 19th-place finish, two laps down, and now finds himself as the championship hunter with seven races remaining. James Buescher had been in line to grab the points lead until his spin with six laps to go. Alas, he finished 17th, one lap down.
The standings shuffle put Dillon atop the chart by eight points over Peters with Buescher 11 points out.
Many of our readers, and yours truly, are fans of southern late model short track racing. In that respect, it was awfully cool to see Cale Gale, Augie Grill and Jeff Choquette all race under the lights on a Saturday night like they've done for years -- only this time in NASCAR.
Gale perhaps had his best run on Saturday night, with Choquette and Grill both still adjusting to the faster NASCAR machines. The mixed results aside, it was still a confirmation that the southeast develops the best drivers in the country.
Iowa is a MVP facility for NASCAR over the past few seasons. Any time the Sanctioning Body needs a stand-alone event for the Camping World Trucks or Nationwide Series, Iowa gets the call. And their fans respond by packing the place out each time.
It's a community facility, much like a home track, but on a grande scale. The surface puts on a great race each time it's used and has more than earned a Cup race. It could easily replace any of the so-called intermediate Chase tracks, including this weekend's Chicagoland playoff opener which has struggled to find its place on the schedule.
If nothing else, it will definitely provide better racing than what Sunday will provide. Just don't call it a short track.
The complete race results plus my thoughts on Saturday's Nationwide Series race can be found after the jump.
Nationwide Series Dollar General 300
If Saturday's Truck Series race was one of the best of the season, the Nationwide Series matinee was one of the worst. Nevertheless, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. passed Kyle Busch with 22 laps to go, winning his fifth race of the season, on Saturday afternoon in the Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway.
The victory, coupled with an eighth-place finish for Elliott Sadler recaptured the points lead for the defending champion, setting up a rematch of last year's battle between Stenhouse and Sadler. Austin Dillon finished third, relegating him to 34 points out the lead; not insurmountable, but unlikely given the pace being set by the No. 2 and No. 6 teams.
My thoughts on Chicagoland aside, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's Championship opener. There's nothing like the playoffs, regardless of which sport you follow and there's a lot of anticipation following last year's dramatic Chase -- the most exciting in the eight-year history of the format.
Bring it on.
|1||3||6||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Blue Bird Ford||200||47||4||Running||2||22|
|2||6||54||Kyle Busch(i)||Monster Energy Toyota||200||0||Running||4||50|
|3||2||3||Austin Dillon #||American Ethanol Chevrolet||200||42||1||Running||4||52|
|4||16||22||Brad Keselowski(i)||Discount Tire Dodge||200||0||Running|
|5||7||33||Paul Menard(i)||Menards/Rheem Chevrolet||200||0||Running|
|6||4||12||Sam Hornish Jr.||AVIS Dodge||200||39||1||Running||1||1|
|7||8||43||Michael Annett||Pilot/Flying J Ford||200||38||1||Running||1||1|
|8||5||2||Elliott Sadler||OneMain Financial Chevrolet||200||37||1||Running||1||3|
|9||1||18||Joey Logano(i)||Dollar General Toyota||200||0||Running||3||67|
|10||42||11||Brian Scott||Dollar General Toyota||200||34||Running|
|11||10||31||Justin Allgaier||Brandt Chevrolet||200||34||1||Running||1||3|
|12||12||7||Danica Patrick||GoDaddy.com Chevrolet||200||32||Running|
|13||9||44||Mike Bliss||BanditChippers.com Toyota||200||31||Running|
|14||13||88||Cole Whitt #||Degree Men Chevrolet||200||30||Running|
|15||18||38||Brad Sweet #||Great Clips Chevrolet||199||29||Running|
|16||25||87||Joe Nemechek||AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves Toyota||199||29||1||Running||1||1|
|17||20||30||Alex Bowman||Allegiant Chevrolet||199||27||Running|
|18||19||19||Tayler Malsam||G-Oil Toyota||198||26||Running|
|19||21||01||Mike Wallace||G&K Services Chevrolet||198||25||Running|
|20||11||99||Kenny Wallace||Family Farmers Toyota||196||24||Running|
|21||17||70||Johanna Long #||Foretravel Chevrolet||196||23||Running|
|22||34||40||Erik Darnell||Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet||195||22||Running|
|23||22||23||Jamie Dick||Viva Auto Group Chevrolet||195||21||Running|
|24||24||39||Dexter Stacey||Maddies Place Ford||194||20||Running|
|25||30||14||Eric McClure||Hefty/Reynolds Wrap Toyota||194||19||Running|
|26||37||41||Juan Carlos Blum||VMP Nutrition/The New Miami Subs Chevrolet||193||18||Running|
|27||35||4||Danny Efland||Tradebank Chevrolet||192||17||Running|
|28||15||81||Jason Bowles #||25Hill.com Now on DVD Toyota||153||16||Engine|
|29||14||24||Benny Gordon||O.C.R. Gaz Bar/Affichage.CO Toyota||122||15||Suspension|
|30||31||51||Jeremy Clements||USS James E Williams DDG 95 Chevrolet||68||14||Oil Leak|
|31||27||10||Jeff Green||TriStar Motorsports Toyota||30||13||Vibration|
|32||39||89||Morgan Shepherd||Victory In Jesus Chevrolet||30||12||Engine|
|33||36||15||Timmy Hill||Carport Empire Ford||28||11||Vibration|
|34||38||28||Tony Raines(i)||Robinson-Blakeney Racing Chevrolet||26||0||Electrical|
|35||40||52||Joey Gase #||Competition Transmission Chevrolet||23||9||Handling|
|36||29||00||Blake Koch||O.C.R. Gaz Bar Toyota||19||8||Vibration|
|37||33||71||Scott Riggs(i)||Lilly Trucking Chevrolet||19||0||Ignition|
|38||32||75||Matt Carter||Lilly Trucking Chevrolet||15||6||Rear Gear|
|39||41||74||Mike Harmon||Koma Unwind Chevrolet||12||5||Overheating|
|40||28||47||JJ Yeley||Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet||11||0||Vibration|
|41||23||42||Josh Wise(i)||Key Motorsports Chevrolet||10||0||Electrical|
|42||26||46||Chase Miller||The Motorsports Group Chevrolet||9||2||Overheating|
|43||43||08||Tim Andrews||Randy Hill Racing Ford||9||1||Ignition|
# = Rookie, Fin = Finish, Str = Start, Pts = Total Points, BPs = Lap Leader Bns Pts, TLd = Times Led, LLd = Laps Led. (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
Average Speed: 138.373 MPH Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 10 Mins, 05 Secs. Margin of Victory: 2.402 Seconds
Lead Changes: 17 among 9 drivers Cautions: 5 for 20 laps Attendance: 34,000