It seemed an almost travesty as the 2014 NASCAR Nationwide season opened with 2013 championship runner-up Sam Hornish Jr. on the sidelines, but for a ten-race stint with Joe Gibbs Racing in races Kyle Busch would not be driving. One of those was Sunday's Get to Know Newton 250 presented by Sherwin Williams at the Iowa Speedway, and the former Indianapolis 500 champion made good on his opportunity.
Outdueling polesitter Ryan Blaney - driving for Penske Racing and almost fittingly so after Hornish's long tenure with Penske in the offseason - on a late restart, Hornish pulled away for his third-career Nationwide Series victory and his first since Las Vegas last March. The Gibbs No. 54 Camry now has four wins on the 2014 Nationwide campaign.
Blaney, who flew to Iowa and won the pole after crashing out of Friday's Camping World Truck race in Charlotte, held on to take second. JR Motorsports teammates Regan Smith and Chase Elliott took third and fourth, with Elliot Sadler completing the top-five in his own Gibbs-owned Toyota. Brian Scott, Michael McDowell, Ty Dillon,Trevor Bayne, and Landon Cassill rounded out the top-10.
Hornish and Blaney dominated the race between themselves, combining to lead all but three of the 250 circuits. Those laps were paced by McDowell after crew chief Kevin Kidd made a call for two tires on the race's penultimate caution period.
With his fourth-place run, rookie phenom Elliott holds a two-point edge in the Nationwide point standings over Smith and Sadler. Dillon is fourth, 35 points in arrears to his rival for Rookie of the Year, while Bayne sits a single marker behind Dillon in fifth. Scott, Brendan Gaughan (who finished 12th), James Buescher (19th), Chris Buescher (13th), and Cassill complete the top-10 after 10 of 33 races.