NEWTON, Iowa (AP) — Brad Keselowski had to overcome a 1,000-mile flight, a pit row violation and an overheating engine just to earn a shot at the lead.
Once Keselowski got his chance, it became perfectly clear who the only Sprint Cup regular in the field was.
Keselowski took control with 35 laps left to win the NASCAR Nationwide race at Iowa Speedway on Saturday night.
The defending Sprint Cup champion has won in his last three Nationwide starts, also topping the field at Richmond in April and Kentucky in June.
Keselowski flew in Saturday afternoon from Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, where NASCAR's top series will race on Sunday. Keselowski was then sent to the back after a tire flew outside the box on an early pit stop, and engine issues threatened to derail him about halfway through the race.
Keselowski persevered though, emerging with his second win in four tries on Iowa's .875-mile oval.
"As a driver, those are probably some of the most difficult moments knowing you have a fast race car and knowing that circumstances are playing against you," Keselowski said. "You can let the moment define you, or you can define the moment."
Points leader Austin Dillon led a race-high 116 laps, but gave up a huge lead following a late caution.
Sam Hornish Jr. was second, followed by Brian Vickers, Dillon and Kyle Larson.
Keselowski, like every other driver in the field, spent much of the race looking at the back of Dillon's No. 3 car.
Dillon led all but 43 laps in the first Iowa race back in June, but he finished second to Trevor Bayne.
Dillon again had a dominant car Saturday, taking control a third of the way through the race.
This time, a late caution flag changed everything.
Dillon led by as many as 7 seconds — or over a quarter of the 0.875-mile track — before a blown tire by Travis Pastrana drew out the flag and allowed the field to pit with 50 laps left.