Ryan Blaney Top of the Crop at Iowa Corn 350

Ryan Blaney emerged victorious in the Iowa Corn 350, marking the first NASCAR Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway. Blaney was cheered on by 80 family members and close friends who were seated in the grandstand and wearing matching Blaney shirts.

Kyle Larson led most of the 70-lap first stage, overtaking Denny Hamlin about 35 laps in and building a three-second lead over Blaney. Blaney chose not to pit during the first caution on Lap 51, caused by AJ Allmendinger’s tire blowout and crash into the wall at Turn 1.

Blaney entered the race on the playoff bubble, sitting 14th in the standings, 47 points ahead of Chase Briscoe in 17th. Larson, who restarted 31st after pitting, impressively gained 21 positions in the first 20 laps of the 140-lap second stage.

On Lap 172, Hamlin nudged Larson in Turn 2 after Larson missed the pit road on the previous lap. A caution followed on Lap 183 when Daniel Hemric hit the wall. Larson then easily won Stage 2 after the Lap 188 restart. But in the restart for Stage 3, Daniel Suarez clipped Larson, sending him into the wall and causing steering issues for Larson. The incident also involved Hamlin, who had tire marks from Larson’s car.

Pre-race predictions suggested that the bottom lane would dominate the corners due to partial repaving. However, as the track rubbered up, a second lane developed, easing concerns and enhancing passing opportunities. Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing had earlier expressed concerns that the increased grip from repaving might make passing difficult.

Contrary to fears that repaving all four corners would limit passing and create a dull race, fans enjoyed tight, exciting racing. The multiple lanes available in the corners at the 7/8-mile track provided plenty of passing opportunities.

Some notable moments included a three-wide battle on Lap 94 involving Hamlin, John Hunter Nemechek, and Harrison Burton, and a struggle between Chase Elliott and Josh Berry for second place after the Lap 188 restart.

The weekend’s events drew large crowds, with Sunday’s Cup Series race selling out before public ticket sales and Saturday’s Xfinity Series race selling out months in advance. The grandstand, with its capacity of 24,000, along with temporary suites and camping areas, brought the total attendance to about 45,000, according to NASCAR’s senior director of track communications.