NASCAR »

Nationwide: Stenhouse victorious over Menard

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Paul Menard battled over victory in Friday night's Nationwide Series race, with the reigning champion holding on during the final restart.
Between them, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Paul Menard led for over two-thirds of the entire 200-lap race distance in Friday's night's O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 under the floodlights at Texas Motor Speedway, so it was only fitting that in the end, the battle for the lead came down to a final sprint to the line for the two of them after a late final caution.

"One thing that I do enjoy about this is that we're running up front every week," said reigning series champion Stenhouse. "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."

Menard had started from pole position but lost the lead to Stenhouse on lap 4, with the reigning series champion then retaining the top spot and pulling out a big lead through to the first caution of the evening for debris on lap 45. A problem with a right front tyre saw Stenhouse slip back to sixth place for the restart - behind Menard, Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin and Elliott Sadler.

Menard was able to hold off a surge from Kahne at the green flag to keep the lead through to the next caution, which was triggered by a spin by Brad Keselowski in turn 4 on lap 90. The restart attempt a few laps later saw Blake Kock spin out of turn 2 and hit the inside wall after being tagged by Kurt Busch, immediately putting the race back under yellow for the third time of the evening. The caution period was longer than anticipated, after a bank of floodlights around turn 3 briefly failed.

Racing was under way again on lap 103, with the running order reshuffled by cautions and pit stops to leave Denny Hamlin ahead of Stenhouse, Sadler, Justin Allgaier and Menard. But Stenhouse suffered a poor restart and fell back dramatically before gathering it back together, giving Menard the opportunity to shoot down the inside line and mount a three-wide battle for the lead with Hamlin and Sadler.

Menard won that battle, and Stenhouse quickly dealt with his restart gremlins to bounce back into second place once more with Sadler a fair way back in third. As the race reached three-quarter distance the field started to cycle through a green flag pit stop sequence that could conceivably see them through to the end without the need for another visit to pit lane if they conserved fuel, after which Menard's lead over Stenhouse was 1.8 seconds with Sadler, Kahne and Austin Dillon filling out the top five.

The action was rudely interrupted on lap 162, however, when the turn 3 lights failed for the second time that night. The race was briefly red-flagged to allow technicians to investigate the problem and change circuit breakers, and everyone took the opportunity to pit again after all to ensure fuel and worn tyres didn't become deciding factors in the result. Racing resumed ten minutes later with Austin Dillon and David Ragan in the lead having gambled on not coming back to pit road for tyres or fuel; Paul Menard, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kasey Kahne followed them taking the green flag on lap 172.

Once again it was the ongoing duel between Menard and Stenhouse that caught the attention at the restart as they battled side-by-side for second: Stenhouse won this round, and was rewarded by a prompt opportunity to take the lead on lap 176 when Austin Dillon twitched coming out of turn 2 on his older tyres. Stenhouse needed no second invitation and nipped through to the front, with Menard following his cue past the rookie to take second.

There would be one final caution on lap 186 when Kurt Busch's engine expired in clouds of smoke, leaving Stenhouse to manage the restart with just six laps to go. It was a fierce battle at the green flag with Stenhouse, Menard and Denny Hamlin going three-wide for the lead out of which Stenhouse somehow managed to come out with the prize, while Menard took longer to clear Hamlin for second and the critical delay allowed Stenhouse to pull out several car lengths over them both which was sufficient to give him a 1.4s lead by the chequered flag.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 13: Blake Koch, driver of the #15 Rick Ware Racing Ford, hits the wall as cars race during the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 13, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 13: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #6 Pure Michigan Ford, takes the chequered flag as he crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 13, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 Sport Clips Toyota, leads Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS finishes in sixth place and Paul Menard, driver of the #27 FVP/Menards Chevrolet SS finishes in fourth place Sunday, March 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS finishes in eighth place Sunday, March 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Paul Menard, driver of the #27 FVP/Menards Chevrolet SS finishes in fourth place and Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS finishes in fourteenth place Sunday, March 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, races during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive4Clots.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway on March 21, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row / Visser Precision Chevrolet, stands in the garage area prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 NATIONWIDE Chevrolet, is involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Ty Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Axalta Faster. Tougher. Brighter. 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 14, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Comcast Business Toyota, is involved in an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet, leads Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS races to victory Sunday, March 8, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada. Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet SS finishes second. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, celebrates with a burn-out after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, celebrates with a burn-out after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, leads Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via 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 - 2015 Crash Media Group

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