Ricky Stenhouse Jr. overcame an accident with pole sitter Joey Logano and then a two-lap deficit to win Saturday's Kansas Lottery 300 Nationwide Series race at Kansas Speedway.
Stenhouse, the defending Nationwide champion, made contact with Logano and scraped the wall while both drivers were battling for position just past the halfway point. Stenhouse had to pit multiple times following the incident, which put him a couple of laps down.
In a race that featured a record 12 cautions on this newly repaved 1.5-mile track, Stenhouse benefited during a late-race caution when he topped off with enough fuel to go the distance. He also got back on the lead lap at the time.
An accident involving Scott Lagasse Jr. and Hal Martin in the closing laps setup a green-white-checkered finish. Kyle Busch held the lead for the last restart, but Busch ran out of fuel heading into turn four on the final lap, allowing Stenhouse to drive past him and take the win.
Stenhouse was running in eighth just before the final caution forced the two- lap overtime finish. Prior to the restart, Sam Hornish Jr. and Kenny Wallace ran out of gas, which extended the caution another lap. Paul Menard, who led the most laps with 110, was running second to Busch, but Menard's fuel tank went dry as well before the green flag waved. The scheduled 200-lap race was extended by six laps.
"That was a total team effort," Stenhouse said. "The guys did an awesome job getting the car back together, and we never gave up. (Crew chief) Mike (Kelley) made great calls and adjustments to fix how the car drove with the damage, and it was still one of the fastest cars out there. I didn't see the win coming like that, but we will take it."
It was Stenhouse's sixth win of the season and eighth of his Nationwide career. His victory coupled with a fourth-place finish for Elliott Sadler allowed Stenhouse to trim Sadler's points lead from 13 to six, as three races remain this season. The series will run next on Nov. 3 at Texas.
Rookie Austin Dillon finished second and allowed Chevrolet to clinch the manufacturers' championship in Nationwide. Dillon moved to within 26 points of the lead.
Logano also bounced back following his incident with Stenhouse to finish third.
"I just got put in the fence," Logano said. "What are you going to do? That's a racing thing. It's just a little early in the race for fencing each other, and I know (Stenhouse) was behind me trying to clean his grill off, so I didn't know what he was trying to do. Then he got underneath me and started running me up the racetrack, and then we ran out of real estate, and he just smashed us in the fence."
Logano, who leads the series with eight wins this season, including a victory last weekend at Charlotte, led the first 34 laps but fell back in the field after taking four new tires during his first pit stop. He then dealt with an ill-handling car.
Shortly after their on-track altercation, Logano showed his displeasure towards Stenhouse by pushing and nudging him down the frontstretch at multiple times. Stenhouse said after the race that the accident was not his fault.
"I had a lot of debris on the grille, and I was 300 (degrees) on water and oil," he said. "I thought we would have to pit to come get that off before we blew up, and I was trying to get behind (Logano) to get the debris off. He checked up at the last second, and I turned and just drove right into the side of him. It wasn't much he could do about it, and I thought it ruined our day, but we were able to bounce back from it."
During the cool-down lap, Logano once again gave Stenhouse a bump from behind between turns one and two.
"That's all there is to talk about," Logano noted. "That was just like, 'Hey, good job'."
Cole Whitt finished fifth, while Busch settled for sixth. Busch holds the record for most victories in NASCAR's second-tier series with 51 but has not won a race since Sept. 2011 at Richmond.
"That's our year," said Busch, who is in his first year as driver and owner of the No. 54 Toyota. "Nothing else to it than that, you know. What a frustrating defeat. Oh well, you get defeated sometimes."
Justin Allgaier, Michael Annett, Hornish and Danica Patrick finished seventh through 10th, respectively. Menard ended two laps down in 16th.