NEWTON, Iowa – A late caution involving then race-leader Christopher Bell was just the break Ryan Sieg needed in the NASCAR XFINITY Series American Ethanol E15 250 presented by Enogen at Iowa Speedway.
Prior to the Lap 219 caution, a host of the cars in the top 10 – Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric and Ben Kennedy among others — had come to pit road, but Sieg was among those to stay out. That decision proved beneficial for the 30-year-old Tucker, Georgia, native, who was unable to overtake William Byron for the race win but was able to score a career-best runner-up finish Saturday night.
“It was crazy,” Sieg said with a beaming smile after the race. “I couldn’t believe I was running second on that last restart and just trying to fight for the win there. It was fun racing with Tyler (Reddick, third-place finisher) at the end. We had a little bit of a battle. It was awesome. Great pit call and great finish.”
On the final restart, Sieg was right alongside Byron, and giving it his all to get to the point. Ultimately, though, he was unable to overtake the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet piloted by the XFINITY Series rookie.
“I was going to drive it in deep and try to do all that I could do. That’s what I did,” Sieg said. “I got all that I could get. He (Byron) was just a little stronger, little faster. I did all that I could do. I was going to try and get that first win but it was crazy. To come home second, either way, a good finish.”
The field’s first shakeup came following a caution on Lap 114 — just six laps from the end of Stage 2. A round of pit stops saw the leaders come to pit road, while Brendan Gaughan stayed out (and earned a playoff point). Sieg restarted second with two laps to go in Stage 2 and came out seventh, setting the stage for his fortuitous position late in the 250-lap race.
Sieg made the inaugural XFINITY Series playoffs last year but was eliminated following the opening Round of 12. This result pushes him into the provisional playoff picture as he heads to his most successful track – Daytona – for Friday night’s Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Three of Sieg’s seven top 10s have come at the 2.5-mile superspeedway, including a pair of third-place finishes.
The driver indicated that typically there is a little more pressure for the RSS Racing team to perform well there. The team, which is also based out of Georgia, typically fields two cars (the No. 39 driven by Sieg and the No. 93 driven by several drivers) in the XFINITY Series.
“It won’t be as big if we don’t finish top three next week is what I was just saying on the way over here (to the media center),” Sieg said. “We want to go get another top three, top five or something; top 10 would be great.”
Sieg joined the entire top five in either matching or setting a career-best result in the XFINITY Series.