Keeping Pace

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. keeps Roush streak alive with Nationwide win at Texas

FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 13: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #6 Pure Michigan Ford, leads the pack during the NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 13, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) (Tom Pennington / Getty Images North America)
FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 13: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #6 Pure Michigan Ford, leads the pack during the NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 13, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) (Tom Pennington / Getty Images North America)

The victory was Stenhouse's second in six starts this season and the fourth of his career. It was also the fourth straight Nationwide win at Texas for Roush Fenway Racing,

By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
 
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Streaking away from Denny Hamlin and pole-sitter Paul Menard after a restart with six laps left, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won Friday night's O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
 
The victory was the defending series champion's second in six starts this season and the fourth of his career. It was also the fourth straight Nationwide win at Texas for Roush Fenway Racing,
 
Menard finished second, with Kasey Kahne passing Hamlin for third in the closing laps. Austin Dillon ran fifth, and series points leader Elliott Sadler faded to 12th during the final short run and saw his margin over Stenhouse shrink to four points.
 
Danica Patrick came home eighth, taking advantage of fresh tires acquired during a pit stop under the final caution. Patrick restarted 13th on Lap 195 of 200 and gained five positions before the end of the race.
 
"I loved coming here, and we finally finished off a race," said Stenhouse, who promised a traditional cowboy hat that goes to the victor to every member of his team. "I felt a lot better coming into this year, obviously, with the championship from last year, but one thing that I do enjoy about this is that we're running up front every week.
 
"We have a shot to win every week, and that's all we can do, and when we can finish it off like that, it's a positive."
 
Patrick posted her top Nationwide result since a career-best fourth at Las Vegas in March of last year.
 
"It's always quite chaotic when you have such great tires along with everyone around you," Patrick said. "It's two-wide -- and you want to get by them. But, all in all, it's nice to have a good finish for the team, for GoDaddy, for everybody that works really hard. We've kind of had a tough going to the start of the year, so that was fun."
 
The middle third of the event featured scintillating racing that mirrored the action from Fontana, Calif., three weeks earlier. Menard started fifth on a restart on Lap 104 but quickly regained the lead, after Blake Koch's No. 15 Chevrolet bounced off the inside wall on the backstretch to cause the third caution.
 
Throughout the ensuing green-flag run, Menard kept Stenhouse at bay, with the margin fluctuating between .2 and 1.5 seconds. On Lap 143, Sadler passed Stenhouse for the second position but couldn't gain ground on Menard, as the lead-lap cars began a round of green-flag pit stops.
 
After the pit stops cycled through, Menard held a 2.188-second lead over Stenhouse, who surged past Sadler for the second spot on Lap 151. Menard maintained an advantage of more than two seconds until the caution flag flew for the fourth time on Lap 162, when track lighting failed on the inside of the backstretch for the second time Friday night.
 
Dillon and David Ragan stayed on the track under the yellow, while the rest of the leap-lap cars came to the pits for tires and fuel. NASCAR red-flagged the race after Lap 169 as track workers replaced the faulty breaker that proved to be the source of the light failure.
 
After the race restarted on Lap 173, Stenhouse blew past Dillon into the lead on Lap 177, with Menard in pursuit. Stenhouse stretched the margin to more than a second before the engine blew in Kurt Busch's No. 54 Toyota on Lap 187, necessitating the fifth caution of the evening.
 
RACE RESULTS
 
1. (3) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 200, $83,843.
2. (1) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 200, $56,525.
3. (8) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 200, $36,825.
4. (2) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 200, $32,115.
5. (4) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 200, $37,758.
6. (30) David Ragan, Ford, 200, $24,015.
7. (16) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 200, $28,433.
8. (17) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 200, $29,658.
9. (18) Michael Annett, Ford, 200, $26,768.
10. (9) Steve Arpin, Chevrolet, 200, $27,383.
11. (14) Sam Hornish Jr., Dodge, 200, $25,908.
12. (5) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 200, $25,658.
13. (7) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 200, $25,408.
14. (20) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 200, $18,580.
15. (12) Joey Logano, Toyota, 200, $18,745.
16. (10) Mike Bliss, Toyota, 199, $25,028.
17. (33) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, 199, $24,218.
18. (23) Jason Bowles, Toyota, 199, $24,033.
19. (24) Mike Wallace, Chevrolet, 198, $23,698.
20. (15) Johanna Long, Chevrolet, 197, $24,263.
21. (21) Kyle Fowler, Ford, 196, $23,478.
22. (31) Kelly Bires, Ford, 196, $16,900.
23. (27) Erik Darnell, Chevrolet, 196, $23,208.
24. (42) Eric McClure, Toyota, 192, $23,093.
25. (28) Tayler Malsam, Toyota, 192, $23,433.
26. (40) TJ Bell, Chevrolet, 192, $16,380.
27. (38) Tim Schendel, Chevrolet, 192, $16,270.
28. (26) Timmy Hill, Ford, 191, $22,618.
29. (37) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 188, $22,443.
30. (6) Kurt Busch, Toyota, Engine, 187, $16,165.
31. (25) Danny Efland, Chevrolet, 187, $22,223.
32. (19) Ryan Truex, Toyota, Engine, 182, $22,113.
33. (41) Benny Gordon, Chevrolet, 175, $22,003.
34. (39) Robert Richardson Jr., Chevrolet, 169, $21,893.
35. (13) Brad Keselowski, Dodge, 159, $15,315.
36. (29) Blake Koch, Chevrolet, Accident, 92, $15,205.
37. (11) Brian Scott, Toyota, Engine, 61, $21,553.
38. (34) Scott Riggs, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 9, $15,050.
39. (36) Chase Miller, Chevrolet, Vibration, 8, $14,790.
40. (32) Josh Wise, Chevrolet, Electrical, 7, $14,755.
41. (35) Scott Speed, Chevrolet, Fuel Pump, 7, $14,720.
42. (43) Kevin Lepage, Chevrolet, Ignition, 4, $14,660.
43. (22) Jeff Green, Toyota, Vibration, 3, $14,609.
 
RACE STATISTICS
 
Average Speed of Race Winner: 126.301 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 22 Mins, 31 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 1.434 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 5 for 33 laps.
Lead Changes: 14 among 7 drivers.
Lap Leaders: P. Menard 1-3; R. Stenhouse Jr. 4-48; P. Menard 49-52; K. Kahne 53; P. Menard 54-94; D. Hamlin 95-103; E. Sadler 104-107; P. Menard 108-146; D. Hamlin 147-148; D. Ragan 149-150; P. Menard 151-163; A. Dillon 164-176; R. Stenhouse Jr. 177-194; D. Hamlin 195; R. Stenhouse Jr. 196-200.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): P. Menard 5 times for 100 laps; R. Stenhouse Jr. 3 times for 68 laps; A. Dillon 1 time for 13 laps; D. Hamlin 3 times for 12 laps; E. Sadler 1 time for 4 laps; D. Ragan 1 time for 2 laps; K. Kahne 1 time for 1 lap.
Top 10 in Points: E. Sadler - 247; R. Stenhouse Jr. - 243; A. Dillon - 227; S. Hornish Jr. - 193; M. Annett - 183; C. Whitt - 182; T. Bayne - 180; T. Malsam - 163; J. Allgaier - 163; M. Bliss – 147.
 



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