Stenhouse Jr., Sadler continue title fight at Texas

Series: NASCAR Nationwide. Date: Saturday, mile oval. Start time: 12:55 p.m. (et). Laps: 200. Miles: 300. 2010 Winner: Carl Edwards. Television: ESPN 2. Radio: Performance Racing Network (PRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Satellite.

After a two-week break, the Nationwide Series begins its three-race sprint to the finish, beginning with this weekend's 300-mile event at Texas Motor Speedway.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. presently holds a 15-point lead over second-place Elliott Sadler. Third-place Aric Almirola is a distant 87 points behind.

When the series last competed on October 14 at Charlotte, Sadler's fourth- place run allowed him to shave five points off of Stenhouse's lead. Stenhouse finished ninth.

"The biggest things that I think we, as a race team, worry about are the things you can't really control on the weekend," Stenhouse Jr. said. "Now that we have the lead, we've prided ourselves the whole time on not making mistakes."

Stenhouse has finished eighth and 11th in the last two races at Texas. Sadler placed fifth here earlier this year. It was the first time Sadler had competed in a Nationwide event at this track since November 2007.

"We had a great race there back in the spring with a top-five finish," Sadler said. "With only three races left to go for the Nationwide Series championship, it's now or never for us. We feel good about our team, about our car and about our plan to battle for this championship. Texas is a track that I've had success at in the past, including a win in the Cup Series back in 2004."

Seven Sprint Cup Series regulars are competing in this race, including David Ragan, who is making his first Nationwide start since November 2009 at Phoenix. Ragan is scheduled to drive the No.08 Ford for Randy Hill Racing.

Now that her IndyCar obligations have concluded, Danica Patrick will resume her Nationwide schedule at Texas. Patrick will also compete at Phoenix next week and the season-finale at Homestead later this month. She is running a full-time schedule in Nationwide and a partial one in Sprint Cup next year.

Kenny Wallace is expected to make series history at Texas with his record 520th career start. Wallace will surpass Jason Keller for most starts in NASCAR's second-tier circuit.

"When I was a little kid growing up in Arnold, Missouri, if you would have told me that I would be able to race in NASCAR my whole life, I would have considered that wishful thinking and a dream; therefore, my 520th NASCAR Nationwide start will be a dream come true," Wallace said.

It will be a bittersweet weekend for Wallace though. His father, Russ Wallace, passed away last weekend at the age of 77.

Rusty Wallace Racing drivers Steve Wallace and Michael Annett, as well as Kenny and Mike Wallace will honor Russ by displaying his name above their driver and passenger side doors.

Forty-eight teams are on the preliminary entry list for the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.