"I didn't think we would get it back to a top-five car," Stenhouse admitted afterwards. "It was okay to start and then it went really bad. The guys did a great job steadily working on the car. We couldn't have great pit stops because they had to do so many adjustments. We were a little better at the end and restarted 11th with 25 to go or whatever it was and we got up into the top-five and it drove a little better."
At the same time, Elliott Sadler - Stenhouse's main rival in the title battle - had been left grappling with a #2 car that was almost impossible to control, and he soon found himself passed by car after car until he was ejected from the top ten. He finally crossed the finish line in 11th place. In terms of the title standings, that meant Stenhouse had gained six points on Sadler in the championship battle - putting them into a tie, although Stenhouse has the most wins in 2012 and therefore takes the de facto
lead of the championship with two races remaining.
"It doesn't really matter now: we have to be leading after Homestead, that is still our goal and still what we have our eye on," insisted Stenhouse. "We have gained some points the last two weeks which is good and you saw last year that if you tie it go.
"Phoenix is a great race track for [Sadler]," he added. "I think he won there and last time we were there we finished third. Homestead is a great race track for both of us as well."
But one thing was certain in Stenhouse's mind, if he is to have a shot at retaining his Nationwide championship before stepping up full time to Sprint Cup racing in 2013: "It is going to take a better race car than what we had today. We aren't going to be able to comeback like that every week. That is two in a row we have done that."
Full race results, plus qualifying and practice
speeds and full Nationwide Series championship standings