Keeping Pace

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rallies for improbable Nationwide win at Kansas

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #6 Cargill/Sam's Club Ford, pits during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway on October 20, 2012 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR) (Jerry Markland / Getty Images North America)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #6 Cargill/Sam's Club Ford, pits during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway on October 20, 2012 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR) (Jerry Markland / Getty Images North America)

In winning for the sixth time this season and the eighth time in his career, Ricky Stenhouse cut Elliott Sadler's seriespoints  lead from 13 to six with three races left in the season for the chase for the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship.

By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rallied from two laps down to win Saturday's Kansas Lottery 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kansas Speedway and tighten the battle for the series championship.

During a green-white-checkered-flag finish that took the race six laps beyond its scheduled distance of 200 laps, Stenhouse surged to the front in the final turn after Kyle Busch ran out of fuel.

Austin Dillon ran second, .288 seconds behind Stenhouse. Polesitter Joey Logano finished third, followed by Elliott Sadler and Cole Whitt.

In winning for the sixth time this season and the eighth time in his career, Stenhouse cut Sadler's series lead from 13 points to six with three races left in the season.

To get to Victory Lane, Stenhouse had to survive a collision with Logano's No. 18 Toyota -- an incident team owner Jack Roush said was Stenhouse's fault just past the halfway point.

"The guys did an awesome job getting the car back together, and we never gave up," Stenhouse said. "Mike 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 this, but we will take it."

Saturday's event was the first NASCAR race on a track that was newly repaved and reconfigured with graduated banking, and there were some growing pains. The race produced a record 12 cautions for a total of 50 laps.

The championship battle took an ominous turn for Stenhouse, the defending series champion, just after the midpoint of the race. Stenhouse and polesitter Logano collided off Turn 2, damaging both cars, but both were able to continue.

Stenhouse was following Logano closely just before the contact.

"We had a lot of debris on the grille, and we were 300 (degrees) on water and oil, and I thought we would have to pit to come get that off before we blew up," Stenhouse said. "I was trying to get behind him to get the debris off and he checked up at the last second and I turned and just drove right into the side of him. There wasn't much he could do about it, and I thought it ruined our day, but we were able to bounce back from it."

Stenhouse lost two laps during a green-flag pit stop but got them back on a wave-around before a Lap 142 restart and a free pass as the highest-scored lapped car under the 10th caution of the afternoon.

Back on the lead lap for a restart on Lap 167, Stenhouse had charged to 13th by the time Mike Bliss' slide through the tri-oval caused the track-record-tying 11th caution. Stenhouse was two spots behind Sadler in fifth when first-time Nationwide starter Hal Martin and Scott Lagasse Jr. wrecked off Turn 2 on Lap 198.

Fearing they would run out of fuel in overtime, Sadler and Dillon both pitted for a splash of fuel under the 12th caution. Stenhouse restarted fourth and took the checkered flag when Kyle Busch ran out of fuel on the final lap.

So ended another disappointing day for Busch, still trying to win for the first time behind the wheel of the No. 54 Toyota he owns.

"That's our year, man -- nothing else to it than that," said Busch, who rolled across the finish line in sixth place. "…What a frustrating defeat."

Notes: The race marked the first appearance for a Pakastani driver in a NASCAR event. Nur Ali finished 33rd in his NASCAR debut after slamming the Turn 3 wall on Lap 69… Derek White, who wrecked in Turn 4 on Lap 138 to cause the ninth yellow, was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation… Danica Patrick (10th) posted her third top-10 finish of the season, but she'll remember this race for a spectacular three-wide pass of Sadler and Ryan Blaney for the sixth spot on Lap 171.

RACE RESULTS

1. (10) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 206, $91143.
2. (2) Austin Dillon #, Chevrolet, 206, $65718.
3. (1) Joey Logano(i), Toyota, 206, $50125.
4. (7) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 206, $38533.
5. (8) Cole Whitt #, Chevrolet, 206, $35158.
6. (6) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 206, $24190.
7. (21) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 206, $32208.
8. (14) Michael Annett, Ford, 206, $28508.
9. (12) Sam Hornish Jr., Dodge, 206, $27418.
10. (13) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 206, $27783.
11. (27) Ryan Blaney(i), Dodge, 206, $26058.
12. (22) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, 206, $25508.
13. (23) Mike Bliss, Toyota, 206, $24958.
14. (37) Danny Efland, Chevrolet, 206, $24448.
15. (15) Eric McClure, Toyota, 205, $24888.
16. (5) Paul Menard(i), Chevrolet, Fuel, 204, $20160.
17. (39) Erik Darnell, Chevrolet, 204, $23493.
18. (4) Kenny Wallace, Toyota, Fuel, 203, $23983.
19. (32) Joey Gase #, Chevrolet, 202, $16555.
20. (24) Jason Bowles #, Dodge, 201, $23488.
21. (29) Mike Wallace, Chevrolet, 200, $22703.
22. (33) Jennifer Jo Cobb(i), Chevrolet, 200, $16125.
23. (26) Brad Sweet #, Chevrolet, Engine, 199, $22458.
24. (19) Scott Lagasse Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 197, $15875.
25. (16) Hal Martin, Toyota, Accident, 182, $22683.
26. (3) Brian Scott, Toyota, 177, $23098.
27. (42) Dexter Stacey, Ford, 165, $21988.
28. (17) James Buescher(i), Chevrolet, Engine, 155, $21868.
29. (40) Derek White, Toyota, Accident, 130, $21718.
30. (31) Tony Raines(i), Chevrolet, Vibration, 123, $15440.
31. (9) Johanna Long #, Chevrolet, Accident, 109, $21473.
32. (43) Morgan Shepherd, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 75, $14895.
33. (41) Nur Ali, Chevrolet, Accident, 68, $21253.
34. (30) Scott Saunders, Ford, Accident, 31, $14675.
35. (11) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, Water Pump, 24, $14565.
36. (25) Blake Koch, Toyota, Ignition, 24, $14455.
37. (36) Carl Long, Chevrolet, Overheating, 23, $14335.
38. (34) Timmy Hill, Ford, Engine, 14, $14275.
39. (35) Robert Richardson Jr., Chevrolet, Clutch, 14, $13940.
40. (28) JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, Vibration, 9, $13830.
41. (38) Mike Harmon, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 8, $13725.
42. (18) Jeff Green, Toyota, Vibration, 4, $13520.
43. (20) Chase Miller, Chevrolet, Ignition, 4, $13413.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  111.597 mph.
Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 46 Mins, 08 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.288 Seconds.
Caution Flags:  12 for 50 laps.
Lead Changes:  14 among 6 drivers.
Lap Leaders:   J. Logano(i) 1-34; R. Stenhouse Jr. 35-37; P. Menard(i) 38-44; R. Stenhouse Jr. 45-53; P. Menard(i) 54-58; R. Stenhouse Jr. 59-70; P. Menard(i) 71-112; A. Dillon # 113-117; P. Menard(i) 118-139; J. Allgaier 140-142; P. Menard(i) 143-175; K. Busch(i) 176-183; P. Menard(i) 184; K. Busch(i) 185-205; R. Stenhouse Jr. 206;.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  P. Menard(i) 6 times for 110 laps; J. Logano(i) 1 time for 34 laps; K. Busch(i) 2 times for 29 laps; R. Stenhouse Jr. 4 times for 25 laps; A. Dillon # 1 time for 5 laps; J. Allgaier 1 time for 3 laps.
Top 10 in Points: E. Sadler - 1,136; R. Stenhouse Jr. - 1,130; A. Dillon # - 1,110; S. Hornish Jr. - 1,038; M. Annett - 986; J. Allgaier - 974; C. Whitt # - 913; M. Bliss - 820; B. Scott - 758; D. Patrick - 742.




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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.






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