Ryan Preece dominated on the track at Saturday's NASCAR Xfinity series race at Iowa Speedway and took the checkered flag, finishing ahead of Kyle Benjamin and Brian Scott.
Preece was in control of this race throughout, leading 141 of the 254 laps. The 26-year-old also won the first stage to get the extra playoff point and nearly won the second stage, holding the lead with seven laps remaining before Justin Allgaier stole it away from him.
Here is the top-10 order of finish from the U.S. Cellular 250, via NASCAR.com:
1. Ryan Preece
2. Kyle Benjamin
3. Brian Scott
4. Brennan Poole
5. Cole Custer
6. J.J. Yeley
7. Daniel Hemric
8. Blake Koch
9. William Byron
10. Brandon Jones
The win was a huge feather in the cap for Preece, who came into Saturday's race with just one Xfinity start this season and zero career wins on the circuit in 37 career starts. He did fare well in his only other race in 2017, finishing second at New Hampshire two weeks ago.
Preece isn't going to factor into the overall points standings because of his limited exposure this season. Elliott Sadler still holds a solid lead with 14 races left on the schedule.
Here's the updated top 10 in the Xfinity Series point standings:
1. Elliott Sadler: 707 Points
2. William Byron: 653 Points (-54)
3. Justin Allgaier: 564 Points (-143)
4. Brennan Poole: 518 Points (-189)
5. Daniel Hermic: 488 Points (-219)
6. Cole Custer: 474 Points (-233)
7. Matt Tifft: 436 Points (-271)
8. Ryan Reed: 424 Points (-283)
9. Dakoda Armstrong: 388 Points (-319)
10. Blake Koch: 374 Points (-333)
Preece's dominance of the first stage extends just beyond winning the playoff point, leading all 60 laps along the way.
The No. 20 car was so dominant that the NASCAR: Xfinity Twitter account was able to work in a Grease reference to describe his performance:
Preece is one of six drivers who rotate in the No. 20 car this season. The others include Christopher Bell, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Benjamin.
Coming on the heels of his runner-up showing at New Hampshire, Preece felt like he showed the Joe Gibbs Racing team a lot to warrant an opportunity to be a permanent part of the group, via NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce:
"I just felt like I needed to show three things. A) Don't wreck a race car, don't put a dent in the panel; B) pass race cars like we did in that first segment, coming from 15th or wherever it was to finish second to Kyle; and C) show I could finish off a race, too. Not just run in the top five and then disappear somewhere toward the end but finish there also. That was pretty much what the goals were."
Adding a win to the resume certainly boosts Preece's chances of getting more opportunities to race for Gibbs' team in the future. Saturday was his last scheduled appearance for the team this season.
Xfinity Racing tweeted out a message in support of Preece's quest to land a permanent gig as part of a team following his win:
Allgaier's victory in the second stage did add some drama to the race, at least briefly. But he chose to skip a trip to the pit area during a caution, at which point he was still leading the race with 78 laps to go.
The decision not to pit led to Allgaier falling off the pace and crossing the finish line in 20th place. His 106 laps led were the second-most in the field, but the disappointing finish took some wind out of his sails.
Benjamin and Sadler combined for a total of seven laps led, and they were the only other drivers to lead at least one lap in the race.
This day was all about Preece asserting his dominance over the field and making a name for himself. His best finish coming into this season was 10th last year.
Now that Preece has been able to get the monkey off his back, his star keeps rising and the offers should start rolling in to make him a more permanent fixture on the Xfinity Series circuit.