The Frontstretch: Nationwide Breakdown: DuPont Pioneer 250 by Huston Ladner -- Monday June 10, 2013

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Nationwide Breakdown: DuPont Pioneer 250

Huston Ladner · Monday June 10, 2013


Watching this week’s Nationwide race required a marathon effort. Slated to start on Saturday night, it was postponed until Sunday morning due to rain. Once begun, the cars clicked off laps in a hasty fashion, until a wreck two-thirds of the way through required extensive clean-up and was followed by a red flag for rain. That’s hardly the way to go with things.

Through what can be considered a mess of a race weekend, Austin Dillon and Trevor Bayne emerged as the top contenders. After the red, Dillon drove away as he had for much of the event. Bayne, however, was able to run him down with a car that excelled on long green flag runs, catching and passing the No. 3 car with 11 to go. From there, without a late caution, Bayne cruised to victory – something that shows Roush Fenway Racing’s continued success at the track.

Brian Vickers may have been one of those select few but two bad pit stops put him in a lackluster position. The second poor stop led to his wreck and took him out of the race. Also collected in the mess were Alex Bowman, Max Papis, and Travis Pastrana. Pastrana, at this point, must be living in a world of frustration as he has seemingly had good cars recently, and even been driving forward, only to be caught in bad spots. Not to single him out as any one driver upon which the series must rely, but it would certainly help if he had some decent finishes.

The Good

The Iowa track is reminiscent of both Richmond and Loudon. Cars race side-by-side with neither seeming to get a true advantage and makes for solid racing. The track serves as a reminder that good racing does actually exist and the need for more close-quarters action on all of the schedules. Though the cars that were good were able to driver away from much of the field, notice that by lap 100 half the field had been lapped, the track still makes for compelling entertainment.

The Bad

Announcer Allen Bestwick called the Iowa and “opportunity race.” It makes sense, in a way, as no Sprint Cup drivers could participate. With that being noted, every race is an opportunity, and though much has been made of the Cup drivers (re: Busch, Kyle) dominating the series, it doesn’t mean that they are unable to contend for victories. One aspect that may be overlooked is that Bayne already has some Cup experience and Dillon has put in a few stints as a Cup driver at this point. Sure, they’re both running for the Nationwide championship, but the two drivers that ran up front have experience and serious organizational backing behind them – it’s not like they can’t compete with the Cup guys.

The Ugly

NASCAR. Sure, it makes sense to run the race on Sunday morning. Sort of. Teams want to get back home. Drivers have sat around. It’s time to get things finished off. But why the early start time? Why not, push the race to mid-afternoon, especially at a track that has lights? Once the red flag came about, the race was competing with not only it’s big NASCAR Cup brethren but also the F1 race. Seems like a bad move (or one that was really made by ESPN).

Aside from competing with the more newsworthy racing events, there was a different thing that showed up: the stand were rather empty. For a track that consistently draws well, this sign is disappointing. Had many of the fans given up? Were they at church? The people that make these decisions about scheduling must look at what transpired in Iowa as a cautionary tale for reform.

Underdog Performer To call Kyle Larson an underdog at this point is a misnomer, as he continues to show that he’s a rising star. How about Johanna Long coming home a respectable 12th and finishing on the lead lap. Sure, she was never a contender but that kind of result is exactly what she needs and something that have been few and far between to earn. Way to go.

Ill-Gotten Gains?

With NASCAR spread out between Texas, Iowa, and Pocono, this race could be seen as an opportunity for practice, learning, development or whatever one might want to call it for a young driver. Sad to note that by lap 15 five cars had already dropped out and sits as an example that teams start-and-park no matter where they are. Maybe it’s not Cup drivers interloping on the series as much as NASCAR is plagued by people just collecting a check.

The Final Word

  • Aside from NASCAR’s decision to run the race at the postpone time selected, someone also must question the decision to finish the race after another deluge sated the track and caused an hour delay. No doubt everyone is feeling pretty good about leaving Iowa behind for now.

The negatives aside, when the cars did race, things were good. Did the lack of Cup drivers effect any aspect? Hard to say. Sometimes it’s good to have a splash name in the field, and other times it’s just lame. Ultimately, the delays became more of a story than the racing and that’s sad because Iowa still put on a decent show.

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Carl D.
06/10/2013 07:40 AM

I was quite happy that race got rained out until Sunday. That sent Joey Logano back to the Poconos and left the actual Nationwide drivers to sort it out amongst themselves.

Trevor Bayne gets married on Tuesday and wins the race on Sunday. A great story that I’m sure would not have happened if the cup drivers had been available to ruin it.

Iowa is the best track that doesn’t have a cup race and better than many tracks that do.

06/10/2013 08:51 AM

Don’t know if you noticed or not, but a lot of areas have been hit with a lot of rain this Spring (and earlier it was snow). Not many of the Iowa dirt tracks have gotten a bunch of race night in either and a few have not even started yet because of the weather. So, you can hardly blame this past weekend’s conditions on the track staffs or NASCAR. They did what they had to do to get everything in. Plus, I’m sure a lot of the people at Iowa simply went home on Sunday because of a thing called a job on Monday.

Ken Smith
06/10/2013 10:54 AM

Nice to see a couple of drivers actually racing for a win – beating and banging on each other! Also refreshing to hear Austin Dillon saying after the race that it was just good, hard racing, with no complaiing about the beating and banging!! If that would have been one of the cup drivers they would have been crying their eyes out complaing about the other guy rubbing fenders with them!!

Old Fan Bill
06/10/2013 12:51 PM

I don’t understand the comment about Bayne and Dillon having cup experience and serious backing behind them and not including Sadler,Vickers(JGR) and Hornish (Penske) who have more cup experiance than either Bayne or Dillion.

06/10/2013 03:01 PM

I thought it was a good race. The stands were quite full Saturday night. Maybe alot of the fans had to leave Sunday. There aint much you can do about rain. And calling the race after the red flag is a tough call. I know NASCAr does everything it can to complete races. I am sure they dont sit there durring the rain and say….‘well the F1 race is on and they started the Cup guys…lets just give up and go home’ I am sure they think of their event only.

06/11/2013 02:29 PM

There was no way on earth ESPN would push this race into Sunday evening. It would have cut into 17 hours of pregame basketball coverage and that is just unacceptable at ESPN. So those of you wondering, that is why you had an 10am start time.