NASCAR »

Nationwide: Stenhouse takes 2011 title

Ricky Stenhouse knew early on during the Ford 300 season finale race that the 2011 championship was his - but he couldn't do quite enough to also clinch the race win.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was crowned the 2011 Nationwide Series champion after coming second in the Ford 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, more than enough to see off any lingering threat to his new title from Elliott Sadler.

Yet despite pushing for all he was worth in the closing minutes, Stenhouse wasn't able go one better and pass outgoing champion Brad Keselowski for Saturday afternoon's race win, and had to settle for the runners-up spot instead.

"What an effort, champion," Stenhouse's spotter Mike Calinoff radioed in as the #6's last attempt to get around Keselowski was thwarted.

"That was all I had," admitted Stenhouse of that last lap push. "I was really hoping for one more lap there, but Brad did a good job. I got a little loose there coming off 4, or I thought we could have got him.

"But, man, it was fun racing those guys," he continued. "We were sideways, turning right, trying to keep it off the fence, getting into the fence every now and then, and to race up there with Carl, Brad, Denny, Clint Bowyer, Elliott Sadler - they're some of the best in the business and to be up there racing with them is fun.”

Stenhouse was still dazed with the reality of his championship achievement: "This is a dream come true ... It is unbelievable," he said. "There are a lot of people that have worked really hard for this. My family has sacrificed a lot. Jack Roush and all these guys on our team, they were with us when we were struggling and they never gave up last year."

Stenhouse had actually clinched the title early during the afternoon's proceedings, when enough cars had retired by lap 28 to make it impossible for Elliott Sadler to close up the points difference between them and steal the title at the last moment. Even if Stenhouse crashed out, he was now assured 37th place which put him out of Sadler's reach. That meant he was released to run as hard as he liked for the outright race win as well, having previously been required to put safety first and prioritise making no accidents.

Sadler himself had started the race alongside polesitter Keseelowski and immediately taken the lead at the green flag for the first half dozen laps before Keselowski found his groove and dived underneath him for the lead that he would then hold for all but one of the next 50 laps. After that, Carl Edwards made a determined effort to go head-to-head with him and finally came off best; with only temporary interruptions for pit stops and cautions, Edwards continued to lead through to lap 148 and set the most laps led (87 out of the 200-lap race distance, compared with 66 for Keselowski and 22 laps in front for Stenhouse.)

Staying out under a caution then put Clint Bowyer in the lead, but at the restart Stenhouse made his move and went to the front hoping to build up a margin over Keselowski and Edwards, who were still too close for comfort behind him. A final flurry of cautions meant that Stenhouse was dropped back out of the top five, which consisted of Edwards, Keselowski, Sadler, Bowyer and Denny Hamlin as the green flag came out with seven to go.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Brad Keselowski gets ready to celebrate after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series season-ending Ford 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday, Nov. 19. [Photo Credit: By John Harrelson, Getty Images for NASCAR]
Race winner Brad Keselowski celebrates with the flag at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday, Nov. 19. [Photo Credit: By Todd Warshaw, Getty Images for NASCAR]
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the #6 and teammate Carl Edwards perform a head-to-head burnout in celebration of Stenhouse`s NASCAR Nationwide Series title at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday, Nov. 19. [Photo Credit: By Todd Warshaw, Getty Images for NASCAR]
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, loses control of the car after making contact with Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 21, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Will Schneekloth/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, leads the field at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 21, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brendan Gaughan, driver of the #62 South Point Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NSACAR Nationwide Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway on September 20, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brendan Gaughan, driver of the #62 South Point Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway on September 20, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brendan Gaughan, driver of the #62 South Point Chevrolet, celebrates with his crew after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway on September 20, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ty Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying first for the NASCAR Nationwide Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS qualified for eleventh position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Earnhardt, Jr. is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Aflac Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates setting the pole position during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, smiles at Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, prepares for practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, leads the field after a restart during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, places his name in the top twelve on The Chase Grid after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2014 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.