Stenhouse Jr. grabs Nationwide win at Texas
Fort Worth, TX – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. gave Roush Fenway Racing its fourth consecutive Nationwide Series win at Texas Motor Speedway by taking Friday night's O'Reilly Auto Parts 300.
Stenhouse, the 2011 Nationwide champion, rebounded from a pit-road mishap early in the race when his crew struggled with the changing of the right front tire. He fell from first to sixth as a result.
Rookie Austin Dillon held the lead late in the 300-mile event, but Dillon wiggled coming off of turn two with 24 laps remaining, allowing Stenhouse to dart past him for the top spot.
An incident involving Kurt Busch setup a six-lap shootout to the finish. After the restart, Denny Hamlin made a furious charge towards Stenhouse for the lead, but Stenhouse pulled away from Hamlin and the rest of the field to claim his second win of the season and the fourth of his Nationwide career.
"This was a great effort," said Stenhouse, who led a total of 68 laps. "[Crew chief] Mike Kelley knows what he's doing, and I really appreciate all the hard work from this team."
Stenhouse's first win this season came at Las Vegas, which is similar in length to Texas (1.5 miles).
Carl Edwards drove his Roush Fenway Ford to victory in the fall 2010 and spring 2011 Nationwide races at Texas, while Trevor Bayne picked up the win for the organization at this track last November. Bayne did not compete in this race due to lack of sponsorship for his No. 60 team.
Paul Menard started on the pole and dominated most of the race by leading 100 laps, but Menard, a Sprint Cup Series regular, wound up finishing 1.4 seconds behind Stenhouse in the runner-up spot.
"I let one get away there," Menard said. "The car was fast all night. I kept up with Ricky good, but I spun the tires on that restart. It's frustrating."
Kasey Kahne finished third, while Hamlin took the fourth spot and Dillon settled for fifth.
David Ragan placed sixth, and Justin Allgaier was seventh. Danica Patrick turned in her best finish this season with an eighth-place run. Patrick bounced back from a one-lap deficit early in the race and then rebounded from an error on her last pit stop when she overshot her stall.
"The car was really good on the last restart with new tires on it," Patrick said. "I got a tiny push at the end, but all in all, it's nice to have a good finish for the team."
Michael Annett and Canadian Steve Arpin completed the top-10.
Despite a 12th-place finish, Elliott Sadler remained atop the point standings. Sadler entered the race with an 18-point lead over Stenhouse, but Stenhouse has now trimmed the advantage to four.
The Nationwide race at Texas was interrupted twice for a bank of lights on the inside of turn three that turned off. The first incident occurred during a caution just before the halfway point. When the lights went out again on lap 162, NASCAR officials stopped the race briefly to allow track personnel to repair a faulty circuit breaker.