NEWTON, Iowa — Trevor Bayne spent the first weekend of his marriage stuck in a rain-soaked racetrack in the middle of Iowa.
The 22-year-old newlywed made the most of his unorthodox honeymoon, taking his bride to victory lane for the first time.
Bayne rallied to win the rain-plagued NASCAR Nationwide race in Iowa on Sunday, his second career win in the series.
The victory capped a memorable week for Bayne, who got married on Tuesday in North Carolina. His wife, Ashton, wasn’t with him for his first career Nationwide victory in Texas in 2011, but she was right by his side at Iowa Speedway.
“Such a special week for me. I was teared up at the altar on Tuesday and about teared up on victory lane on Sunday,” Bayne said. “Not many women would be willing to get married on Tuesday and come to Iowa as part of their honeymoon.”
Austin Dillon, who conceded the lead to Bayne with 11 laps to go, was second. Elliott Sadler was third, followed by Sam Hornish Jr. and Kyle Larson in the first Nationwide race of the year without a Sprint Cup driver.
The race had been scheduled for Saturday night before being washed out by rain. Bad weather forced a 70-minute delay two-thirds of the way through Sunday’s race.
Dillon won his third straight pole on Saturday afternoon, tying a series record last matched by Bayne in 2010, and the No. 3 car led for 207 laps on Sunday.
But Dillon’s car also tended to run out of steam on long runs, and the race stayed caution-free for the final 72 laps.
It was hardly surprising that the No. 6 car from Roush-Fenway Racing was there to take control and give Ford its 200th win in the Nationwide series.
Bayne’s hard-charging pursuit of Dillon paid off with 13 laps left as the race’s dominant cars briefly rubbed while fighting for the lead. Bayne took over two laps later and cruised to the fourth win in five starts for the No. 6 car in Iowa.
The previous three victories came from Ricky Stenhouse Jr., now a Sprint Cup regular.
“I knew it wouldn’t be long before we caught him,” Bayne said of Dillon. “I caught him a couple of laps sooner than I thought. But once I got to him you could really see that he was frustrated. When you lead a race like that and you dominate all day and you see somebody catching you, man it’s heartbreaking.”
Dillon took control from the outset, leading by as much as a third of a lap on Iowa’s .875-mile oval. Bayne eventually moved into second — but he lagged over five seconds behind Dillon.
Dillon then went low on a restart and slipped past Bayne, who rubbed up on Regan Smith, to retake the lead just before the skies opened and the red flag came out. Dillon was likely hoping for the rain to keep coming. But the conditions finally cleared after a weekend spent dodging bad weather.
“We rolled really good there for quite a while,” Dillon said. “It hurts a little bit. But in the end, we really didn’t have much for (Bayne).”
Saturday’s postponement forced Joey Logano, the lone Sprint Cup regular in the field, to skip Iowa for Pocono on Sunday, with Ryan Blaney driving the No. 22 car.
Joe Nemechek also chose Pocono over Iowa. Kevin Lepage took over for Nemechek in the No. 87 car, and he and Blaney started from the back because of the driver changes.
Blaney finished ninth and Lepage was 19th.
Bayne, still known mainly for a stunning win at the Daytona 500 in 2011, had struggled for much of the season. But Bayne finished sixth and fourth in the last two races — and he got his wedding and his first win of 2013 out of the way in less than a week.
“It’s just special to have her here and to be married and have this ring on my finger. I can’t get used to it,” said Bayne. “It’s such a great feeling to know that we’ve got a lot of years left of racing and forever being married.”