Stenhouse hangs on for Nationwide win at Texas
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the only chance for Roush Fenway to extend its NASCAR Nationwide winning streak in Texas.
Make it four in a row for Jack Roush at the 1 1/2-mile, high-banked track after Stenhouse regained the lead with 23 laps to go and then held on after Friday night's last restart.
"I spent the whole five laps under caution praying for a good restart,'' Stenhouse said. "Everything worked out for us. It was fun racing those guys. I had to drive it into Turn 3 wide open. ... I managed to hang on.''
After the restart with six laps left, Stenhouse pushed his Ford out in front before Denny Hamlin came from behind to get side-by-side at the start-finish line. Stenhouse was ahead by only .001 seconds after that first lap before pulling away for his second victory this season.
It was the fourth career victory for the defending series champion, and the ninth Nationwide victory for owner Roush at Texas Motor Speedway.
Frustrated polesitter Paul Menard finished second after leading 100 of the 200 laps. Kasey Kahne, Hamlin and Austin Dillon rounded out the top five.
"Man, I can say that I just let one get away there. The car was so fast all night. That last restart, kept up with Ricky good,'' Menard said. "Denny got outside and took away the momentum. ... Probably the fastest car here. Should be in Victory Lane.''
Trevor Bayne, who won for Roush in Texas last November, wasn't in the race because the team didn't enter the No. 60 car because of a lack of sponsorship. That was even though Bayne had completed every lap the first five races and was fourth in points.
Carl Edwards won the previous two Nationwide races in Texas to start the Roush streak that came after Joe Gibbs drivers won five in a row here.
Roush said after the race he has had some encouraging talks about potential sponsorship and hopes to get Bayne back out for a significant portion of the season.
The race restarted with 28 laps left after a caution caused when an inside bank of lights near Turn 3 coming off the backstretch went out for the second time in the Friday the 13th race.
When track officials determined the problem was caused by a bad breaker, there was a red flag for 5 1/2 minutes to make repairs.
"It wasn't that bad at all. As soon as they went out the first time under caution, I said we were good to go,'' Stenhouse said. "They went out under green and we went a few laps through there. I thought it was fine. Some people have a different opinion, but it was probably safer to stop and get it going.''
Dillon and David Ragan were the only lead-lap cars that didn't pit when the caution flag first came out, and they were 1-2 when the race resumed.
Stenhouse and Menard quickly got by Ragan, and were .250 seconds behind Dillon one lap later.
A few laps later, they both passed Dillon, driving the No. 3 car for grandfather Richard Childress, with Stenhouse leading the way.
There was one more caution, and Hamlin raced to the outside after the restart and almost got past Stenhouse, who led three times for 68 laps.
Stenhouse had an early 3-second lead, but lost five spots during an early pit stop.
The lights first went out midway through the race during a caution.
"It's dark over there,'' Dale Earnhardt Jr. was heard saying over his radio.
That caution period was extended a few extra laps while the problem was resolved and the lights came back on.
About 60 laps later, those lights went out again. There were actually a couple of laps run under green before the caution came out and the cars were brought down pit road and parked while the problem was fixed for good.
That caution allowed Danica Patrick, then running 17th, to get back on the lead lap. She went on to finish eighth, the first top 10 of her first full-time Nationwide season.
Kurt Busch, driving his first race for younger brother Kyle's new Nationwide team, was running 15th with 13 laps left when the engine blew in the No. 54 Toyota. Kurt Busch started sixth but scraped the wall in the first half of the race for an early trip down pit road. He finished 30th.