Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Rallies For Sixth Win Of Season In Dramatic Fashion At Kansas SpeedwayBy Chris Knight
Despite losing two laps during the race after contact with Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. surged back to life and in contention when the race was thrown into overtime by a late race caution that virtually ensured the reigning NASCAR Nationwide Series champion a chance at victory. And he knew it.
After several cars ran out of gas on the final restart, Stenhouse Jr. in his No. 6 Sam’s Club Ford Mustang had to wait until turns three and four on the final lap before leader Kyle Busch in the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry ran out of gas allowing the Roush Fenway Racing pilot to zoom into the race lead and collect his sixth win of the season.
Following taking the checkered flag, Stenhouse Jr. received his final run-in with Joey Logano of the afternoon which knocked the No. 6 sideways. Logano obviously was still venting his frustration over a pass that awkwardly went wrong after Stenhouse Jr. slide into Logano’s No. 18 GameStop Toyota Camry which at the time was thought to have erased both drivers from competition and for Stenhouse Jr., more importantly the opportunity to repeat as champion.
But, as the old saying goes in racing, it ain’t over till it’s over. Now, Stenhouse Jr. does in fact remain solidly in the championship hunt just unofficially six markers behind leader Elliott Sadler with three events remaining.
“That was a total team effort,” said Stenhouse. “The guys did an awesome job getting the car back together and we never gave up. 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. Our Sam’s Club Mustang was fast this weekend. I didn’t see the win coming like this but we will take it. It was in front of a great crowd. I can’t say enough about the fans coming out and supporting us. It is a lot of fun to run in this series and especially to come to Kansas.”
Austin Dillon in the No. 3 Advocare Chevrolet finished second while Logano, the pole sitter finished third. Sadler and Cole Whitt in the No. 88 Clean Coal Chevrolet rounded out the top-five.
Busch stumbled to sixth with Justin Allgaier, Michael Annett, Sam Hornish Jr. and Danica Patrick comprised the top-10.
Despite finishing 10th, Patrick had by far her best on-track performance of the year but had to pit late for fuel which erased chances of her first top-five run of the season in the No. 7 Tissot / GoDaddy.com Chevrolet.
Ryan Blaney was 11th followed by Joe Nemechek, Mike Bliss who spun late in the race, Danny Efland for JD Motorsports and Eric McClure closed out the top-15. It was a season-high for McClure.
Paul Menard who was the favorite to win late in the race led the most laps on the day but ran out of gas on the final restart and finished 16th. Erik Darnell was 17th. Kenny Wallace who was having a top-10 in the No. 99 American Ethanol Toyota Camry also experienced fuel issues which axed his chances of a recovering finish thus finishing 18th. Joey Gase and Jason Bowles made up the rest of the top-20.
Jennifer Jo Cobb in her No. 13 Mark One Electric Chevrolet Impala finished a respectable 22nd in her hometown race after starting 33rd. She’ll return to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series circuit next weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Brian Scott in the No. 11 Dollar General Toyota Camry had an eventful day for Joe Gibbs Racing. After rocketing to a season-best starting spot in third, the Boise, Idaho native fell victim to a wicked and dangerously loose racecar. Scott had two spins earlier in the race without any contact but a third spin less than 75 laps into the race sent Scott pounding into the wall. The driver retreated to the garage where the team led by Kevin Kidd made repairs and sent their driver back out. No other issues for the day but Scott persevered and finished 26th.
29th-place finisher Derek White driving the No. 24 OCR Gaz Bar Toyota Camry for Sr2 Motorsports was transported to a local hospital after crashing during the event. White, a Canadian is a frequent competitor in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.
Johanna Long qualified her No. 70 Foretravel Motorcoach Chevrolet a stout ninth for ML Motorsports and the former Snowball Derby winner was having a strong run on Saturday but a blown right front tire prematurely ended her day with a hard shot into the outside wall. Long was okay but will likely be sore, she finished 31st.
Hal Martin, the former ARCA standout in his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut for TriStar Motorsports experienced brake problems early on in the Kansas Lottery 300. The New Orleans driver though was able to return to the track and was gaining some much needed seat time. However, with three laps left in the race, Martin broke loose underneath the No. 8 of Scott Lagasse Jr. sending both cars careening into the outside wall. Martin climbed from his destroyed No. 44 American Custom Yachts Toyota Camry disappointed but okay.
It was frankly an embarrassing weekend for Nur Ali. The only-known Pakistan-American stock car driver struggled in his sponsorless Rick Ware Racing No. 41 entry at Kansas Speedway. After an avoidable practice incident on Friday, Ali struggled during the race. After being warned by NASCAR of not meeting the minimum speed requirements, the former open-wheel racer found himself into the wall after clipping the apron of the track. Done for the day at that point, he finished 33rd. He is scheduled to compete also at Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway in November.
Go Green Racing successfully made the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race with Kelly Bires, the team struggled on the Nationwide Series Saturday. Scott Sanders, the Australian and newbie driver Dexter Stacey both experienced setbacks with wrecks in their No. 08 and No. 39 Ford Mustangs 34th and 27th respectively.
While running competitively in the top-15, Jeremy Clements making his 100th NASCAR Nationwide Series start in his No. 51 St. Jude’s Chevrolet Impala succumbed to engine woes just 26 laps into the race. He was credited with a 35th place finish.
Also, with Austin Dillon’s second place finish in the Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway, Chevrolet clinched the Manufacturers’ Championship in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The 2012 achievement marks the 15th time the Bowtie Brand has captured the prestigious Bill France Performance Cup.
With an off-weekend on deck for the NASCAR Nationwide Series, just three races remain in 2012. Next up is a stop in the Lone Star state at Texas Motor Speedway for the running of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge on Saturday, November 3.
Views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Catchfence
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