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Winners and Losers from Iowa NASCAR Weekend

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What’s Happening?

NASCAR’s return to the “Hawkeye State” left some thrilled, with others dismayed. These few drivers had the most to be excited about or to frown about, and they make up the biggest winners and losers from Iowa NASCAR weekend.

  • While this list will primarily focus on drivers, it is not limited to them. Anyone involved in or affected by the Iowa weekend is eligible for this list.
  • Some wins and losses are short-term and may affect a team, driver, or whoever for just a few weeks. Others are big in the long term, and they could help determine Playoff positioning and where drivers could end up in 2025.
  • Fans were apprehensive about the Iowa weekend due to the repave and the Next-Gen car’s record on short tracks. They enjoyed the race, but not every participant benefitted.

Winner: Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney led 201 of 350 laps at Iowa Speedway on Sunday evening, giving him his first win of 2024, a redemptive win after running out of gas on the last lap at Gateway while leading two weeks ago. The win puts the defending Champion in a position to make the Playoffs. Could another magical Playoff run be in the cards?

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Loser: Denny Hamlin

Denny Hamlin won the first two short track races of 2024 at Bristol and Richmond but was out of sorts at Iowa. He struggled to stay on the lead lap early, and by the time he did make it up to the front, he wrecked along with Kyle Larson at the beginning of stage three. Hamlin now sits third in points, 38 points out of the lead, meaning he needs to set things straight if he wants the Regular Season Championship and the 15 Playoff points that go with it.

Winner: Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott is now the regular season points leader after a solid third-place finish at Iowa. While he has been consistent and racking up plenty of stage points, he’s only led 137 laps this season, on pace for the lowest total of his career (sans 2023, when he missed seven races). Iowa was the first time in a while that Elliott was a serious contender for a win, and he likely needs more wins if he wants to win his second Cup Series Championship.

Loser: Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch now sits 31 points below the Playoff cutline after a mechanical failure at Iowa. While he had a top-10 car at times, the mechanical failure ruined his day. He’s not in “Must-Win” territory yet, but with only nine races until the Playoffs, he’s dangerously close.

Winner: Daniel Suarez

Daniel Suarez has had an abysmal season since he won at Atlanta, but Iowa was a big step forward for him and his team. He finished third in stage one while recording his first top 10 since Texas in April. While the Kyle Larson crash was a tough moment, Suarez took home a much-needed solid finish.

Loser: Martin Truex Jr.

Martin Truex Jr. announced on Friday that he would step away from full-time competition at the end of the season, but his retirement tour did not get off to a stellar start. Like Hamlin, Truex Jr. has shown prowess on short tracks this season, but he was never a factor all night, finishing a disappointing 15th, one lap down.

Winner: Iowa Speedway

There was a lot of skepticism about whether going to Iowa was the right move for NASCAR, but Iowa fans showed up and showed out, and the racing was pretty solid as well. It was an overwhelmingly positive weekend, and Iowa proved they are worthy of another opportunity to host a Cup Series race in 2025.

Loser: Joe Gibbs Racing

Many felt that Joe Gibbs Racing would be the class of the field at Iowa, given how good the team has been on short tracks. However, only Christopher Bell finished in the top 10, with Ty Gibbs (25th), Truex Jr. (15th), and Hamlin (24th) all struggling. In addition, Gibbs is losing Truex Jr. on a full-time basis at the end of the season. This was a bittersweet announcement followed by a lackluster weekend.

Winner: FOX

It was a bittersweet week for Fox as they wrapped up their NASCAR schedule at Sonoma the week prior. Fox took a small victory lap thanks to a 1% increase in TV viewership compared to 2023, despite the Daytona 500 being postponed. A big win for Fox, and the same week they announced the addition of IndyCar and the Indianapolis to their portfolio starting in 2025.

Loser: FOX

However, as we mentioned, it was a bittersweet week/weekend for Fox. The network aired the final episode of the daily NASCAR show NASCAR Race Hub, and questions loom over NASCAR RaceDay’s future. Fans also gave high praise to the NBC broadcast at Iowa, potentially leaving Fox with some ground to cover.

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