When the white flag waved for the Soy Biodiesel 250, Woody Howard was running fourth. But when checkered flag flew, Howard eked his No. 55 Dean Motorsports Chevrolet across the finish line .064 seconds ahead of Daniel Johnson to win the inaugural race at Iowa Speedway.
"My car owner, Jim Dean, said he didn’t care if we only led one lap all night as long is it was the last one," said Howard, who led for the first time on the last lap. "I don’t even remember which way I made the pass; I was just going where it was open. I’m just glad it all worked out."
"This is an awesome place, and it felt so good running up front here," said Johnson. "I really wanted to win, but this is one of the best runs I’ve had. We almost didn’t make this race due to lack of funds. This definitely helps us out."
As Johnson and Howard fought for the top spot, Justin Hobgood also joined the fray on the final lap. Hobgood, driver of the No. 16 Naturally Fresh Ford, made it three-wide coming to the checkered flag, but the Winnsboro, S.C., driver finished .129 seconds behind in third.
"There’s just so much grip out there," said Hobgood, who was the highest-finishing rookie. "We were three and four wide out there. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to be doing, but it was time to go."
The finish of the Pro Cup Series' first race at Iowa Speedway was this close (Kathy Bond photos)
While the top three were elated with their podium finishes, Shane Wallace was feeling no elation after cutting a tire with less than two laps remaining.
Wallace wrestled the lead away from Lonnie Rush Jr. with 30 laps remaining in the race and was holding Mardy Lindley at bay for the top spot as the laps were winding down. But as he entered Turn 3 on Lap 249, Wallace’s No. 38 EM Wallace Contractors Ford slid up the banking, bringing out the caution and setting up a green-white-checkered finish.
Wallace didn’t make any contact and stayed on the lead lap, but his chance for his first win was gone. Wallace did rally back to finish 11th.
Woody Howard can call himself the first person to ever win at Iowa Speedway.
Coming to the white flag, Johnson, driver of No. 3 Charlotte Check Cashers Pontiac, looked like he would be the first one to christen Iowa Speedway’s Victory Lane.
After a late-race caution set up a green-white-checkered finish, Johnson nudged Mardy Lindley out of the lead on Lap 258, but the contact allowed Howard to get a run on the leader going into Turn 1 on the final lap. With momentum on his side, Howard ducked to the inside of Johnson, and the two went side-by-side for the final lap, banging off each other several times. But in the end, Johnson, who led a race-high 82 laps, fell short of his first Hooters Pro Cup Series win.
Johnny Rumley, driver of the No. 80 Champion Spark Plugs Chevrolet, also did some rallying at Iowa Speedway. Rumley bounced off the wall late in the final practice session, but his JR Motorsports teammates prepared the backup car to perfection, allowing the Summerfield, N.C., driver to come home fourth.
Mardy Lindley, driver of the No. 22 Black’s Tire & Auto Service Ford, finished fifth, but he had shot to win for the second time in three races with Ricky Benton Racing.
After Wallace dropped from the lead, Lindley looked to be in command of the event, because he had been tracking down Wallace before the caution. But Johnson, who had dropped back in the field after his car cut off on Lap 199, was on the charge.
Johnson immediately put the pressure on Lindley when the final green flag waved on Lap 257. Lindley tried to fend off Johnson, but the two tangled for the lead coming to the white flag, enabling Howard, Hobgood and Rumley to slip past.
Lonnie Rush Jr., driver of the No. 71 Ray Skillman Auto Chevrolet, led 18 laps during the race and came home sixth.
Clay Rogers, who led nine laps, brought his No. 44 Automotive Development Group Ford home in seventh.
Joey Logano (#51) led the first laps in the history of Iowa Speedway.
Dange Hanniford, making his second start for Mac Hill Motorsports, followed Rogers across the line in eight. Mart Nesbitt, driver of the No. 88 ConstructionJobs.com Ford, and Jim Crabtree, driver of the No. 63 McCreary County Funeral Homes Chevrolet, rounded out the top 10.
In addition to finishing third, Hobgood picked up $1,000 for being the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race.
After nabbing $1,000 for being the Advance Auto Parts Pole Award winner, Shelby Howard, driver of the No. 20 Speedco/Tony Stewart Racing Chevrolet, finished 12th.
Daniel Johnson picked up the Aaron’s Hard Charger Award from advancing the most positions during the Soy Biodiesel 250. Johnson started 31st and finished second. He also took home the Greased Lightning Super Strength Performer Award from leading a race-high 82 laps.
Bobby Gill, driver of the No. 06 USG Sheetrock Brand Ford, led 72 laps during night, including the Lucas Oil Products Halfway Lap, but the 3-time champion fell to 20th after making a late-race pit stop.
The Soy Biodiesel 250 featured 26 lead changes among 14 drivers and was slowed 11 times for 93 laps of caution.