Las Vegas, NV (Sports Network) - Ricky Stenhouse Jr. put his Nationwide Series title defense in full gear by winning Saturday's Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Stenhouse edged 53-year-old and four-time Las Vegas Nationwide race winner Mark Martin out of the pits during a caution to take the lead for the first time with 55 laps remaining. The 24-year-old Stenhouse held off Martin after the last two restarts and then became untouchable from there.
He beat Martin to the finish line by 5.9 seconds for his third career Nationwide win but his first on a racetrack one-mile or more in length. His first two victories came at 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway during his championship season last year.
"This [Ford] Mustang was fast today," Stenhouse said. "We weren't that great at the start, but [crew chief] Mike Kelley and the guys gave me awesome pit stops. They made the car as good as we needed it."
Stenhouse started off this season with a 19th-place finish at Daytona. He was involved in an 11-car crash during the final lap of that race. He rebounded with a third-place run last weekend at Phoenix.
Martin made his first start in the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. He led 44 laps before Stenhouse beat him off of pit road. Martin attempted to take the lead from Stenhouse after the final restart with 39 laps to go but could not make the pass.
"That was one serious beat down Ricky Stenhouse did on me there at the end," Martin said.
Elliott Sadler, the pole sitter and current points leader, finished third after rebounding from a vibration issue that occurred halfway through the 300- mile race.
Stenhouse's Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Trevor Bayne, finished fourth, while Las Vegas-native Brendan Gaughan took the fifth spot. Rookies Cole Whitt and Austin Dillon were sixth and seventh, respectively.
Justin Allgaier, Sam Hornish Jr. and Kasey Kahne, who led 40 laps in the early going, completed the top-10.
Danica Patrick finished 12th one year after she finished a career-best fourth at this track.
"I guess today is one of those days where I feel like the result probably didn't show for kind of how I felt in the car. It was definitely loose at the start," she said.
Brad Keselowski was in contention to win until lap 131 when he lost fuel pressure and slowed on the track. He also had trouble re-starting his car on pit road. He wound up four laps behind in 23rd-place.
Kyle Busch spun around and made contact with the wall early in the race. Busch spent more than 70 laps in the garage for repairs and ended up with a 33rd- place finish at his hometrack.
Sadler holds a 15-point lead on Dillon, his Richard Childress Racing teammate, while Stenhouse is now within 17 markers of the leader.
03/10 21:25:26 ET