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Stenhouse Jr. Wins Kansas

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, October 20 2012

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. took advantage of Kyle Busch's empty fuel cell to win the NNS race at Kansas. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Brian Lawdermilk)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. blew past Kyle Busch’s fuel-spent Toyota Camry for the lead as the two drivers headed for the checkered flag and went on to win Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kansas Speedway.

The last-lap pass capped a wild comeback for Stenhouse, who had to come from two laps down to get the victory after a green/white/checkered restart.

“It was eventful,” Stenhouse said. “We had a lot of things go wrong and then we had a lot of things go right.

For Busch, who appeared to have the race won until a back-marker-caused wreck sent the event to overtime, the Kansas setback marked another disappointing finish for the team he owns and drives for.

“Ran out in the middle of (turns) 3 and 4,” Busch said. “But, that’s our year man. Nothing else to it than that, you know. I just can’t say enough about all our guys, everybody at Monster Energy and Toyota – they do a great job for us. We’re supposed to repay them by winning races and we haven’t done that this year. What a frustrating defeat. Oh well, you get defeated sometimes.”

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

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

Hopes for  a second-straight NNS championship for Stenhouse appeared to be in big trouble when, just after the midpoint of the race, he and polesitter Logano collided off Turn 2. Both cars were damaged but both were able to continue.

“I just got put in the fence,” Logano said. “What are you going to do? That’s a racing thing. It’s just a little early in the race for fencing each other and I know he’s behind me trying to clean his grill off, so I didn’t know what he’s trying to do and then he got underneath me and started running me up the race track and then we ran out of real estate and he just ‘smushed’ us in the fence.”

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 Busch ran out of fuel on the final lap.

“I made a mistake,” Stenhouse said of his incident with Logano, “where we got some debris on the grille and I was trying to get it off on the 18 up on his back bumper. About that time he had to lift and I turned and drove right into the side of him. I thought our day was done but Mike and the guys did a great job at repairing the right side of the car as best they could and making adjustments so that we could still run fast. I thought we had a top five car still with all the damage.

“The cautions fell our way and Mike kept making great calls when we would come down pit road and we were able to get back on the lead lap and it put us in position where we were able to get fuel. We weren’t worried about running out and that played into our favor for sure. I thought we were going to end up second and then Kyle ran out there at the end and it played right into our hand.”

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, October 20 2012
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