Bumping, black flags and a burnout. That’s exactly how Sunday in Iowa finished as Chase Elliott was two laps away from a victory, but it was Chris Buescher who stole the show. A late caution sent the 2014 Xfinity champion from a surefire win to playing second fiddle to a Roush Fenway driver.
That not only gave Buescher his second win of his Xfinity career, but it also thrust him to the top of the points standings. Let’s take a look at all of this and more from the first Iowa race of the 2015 season
1. Buescher Stands Alone
It took a while to get there, but Chris Buescher is finally atop the Xfinity Series standings with every other driver in his rearview mirror. He was tied with Ty Dillon earlier in the year, but being all alone is a completely different type of comfort level.
Dillon is still hot on his tail despite a disappointing performance on Sunday in Iowa. But with an eight-point lead over Dillon and a 31-point advantage over Elliott after his win, Buescher isn’t ready to take his name out of the championship contenders list.
2. Roush Fenway Leading the Way
Of the cars in the top 10 in points, Roush Fenway has four names on the list. Having Buescher at the top and Darrell Wallace in fourth—just six points behind Elliott—makes this somewhat of a super team at the Xfinity level.
That’s more than what RFR can say at the Sprint Cup level to this point, with no drivers even in the top 20 in the points standings. That leads me to believe that the top talent might actually be waiting in the Xfinity Series to eventually make Roush a viable program again.
3. Tempers Flare, Boiling Over to Charlotte
Buescher’s triumph might have been a huge story on Sunday, but the biggest takeaway was between two driver not contending for the win.
Brennan Poole and J.J. Yeley made contact early in the race at Iowa that saw Poole head to the pits with massive damage to the front clip of his car. Poole, clearly not happy with the contact, got some retaliation later in the race by sending Yeley straight to the garage. As a result, Poole was black flagged and forced to park his car.
“I’m not just going to wreck somebody on Lap 15,” Yeley said after the incident. “It’s just a stupid thing to do. Obviously he was upset and instead of just talking to us like a man after the race, he came back out there and took a good finish away from a guy with a small team.
“Hopefully NASCAR gets a hold of him before I do.”
This is a situation that is far from over. If it isn’t resolved between now and when the Xfinity drivers get on the track in Charlotte on Saturday, it’s a battle that fans will want to watch unfold.
4. Three Up
Chase Elliott – Two laps away from his first win of the season, Chase Elliott took the green-white-checkered loss as professionally as he possibly could. With 900 miles coming this weekend in Charlotte, fans will get a chance to see him thrive at both levels.
Brian Scott – The Richard Childress Racing driver secured his eighth top 10 of the season and second top five by finishing fourth in Iowa. After collecting two top-10 results at Charlotte last season, expect more of the same as Scott quietly is putting himself in the title discussion.
Ben Rhodes – Only a part-time driver for JR Motorsports this season, Ben Rhodes made a statement on Sunday with a top-10 finish in his first Xfinity race. Elliott is moving up to the Sprint Cup level next year, so Rhodes is already making a strong case to take the seat over in 2016.
— Ben Rhodes (@benrhodes) May 17, 2015
— Ben Rhodes (@benrhodes) May 17, 2015
5. Three Down
Ty Dillon – Not only did Ty Dillon finish outside of the top 10 over the weekend, he did so when his closest competition in the points race wound up in Victory Lane. Thankfully, he is coming off a third-place finish in the fall race at Charlotte, so he should do some climbing again in the standings this weekend.
Daniel Suarez – This one’s tough. Daniel Suarez had a reasonably strong afternoon, but the final result was abysmal. The Mexican driver led 48 laps, but ran out of gas with just two remaining in the race. He fought hard all day to remain in the race, so this is more about the end rather than the performance he put on.
Joey Gase – Attempting to ride the momentum of his fifth-place result in Talladega, Joey Gase was unable to collect a top 20 in Iowa. Hopefully we’ll see more from Gase in Charlotte, but his streak of promising results ends at just one after Sunday.
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