Stenhouse Jr Wins Nationwide Race at Chicagoland

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JOLIET, Ill. — It was a statement victory for defending Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who won Saturday’s Dollar General 300 Powered by Coca-Cola at Chicagoland Speedway and simultaneously wrestled the series lead from Elliott Sadler.

The victory was Stenhouse’s fifth of the season and the seventh of his career. He crossed the finish line 2.402 seconds ahead of Kyle Busch, who fell one spot short of posting his first victory in the Nationwide car he owns.

Austin Dillon ran third, followed by Brad Keselowski and Paul Menard. Sadler finished eighth and fell from the top spot in the standings after holding it for a total of 21 weeks in two different stretches this season, including the last 14. With seven races left, Stenhouse leads Sadler by nine points.

Stenhouse’s No. 6 Ford came to life over the final 29-lap green-flag run, giving team owner Jack Roush his first victory at the 1.5-mile track in any of NASCAR’s top three touring series. In winning the race, Stenhouse overcame two mistakes: stalling the car on pit road and an adjustment that adversely affected the handling.

Stenhouse, however, was cautious in claiming the upper hand toward a second consecutive title.

“The last four races, I think, we’ve finished second, first, second and first, so I think we’ve got good momentum,” Stenhouse said. “But in this business, in this sport, anything can change at any time. You’ve got to keep your guard up, and you’ve got to keep not making mistakes.

“We’re very fortunate that we overcame the mistakes that we had today, both on pit road — a wrong adjustment and a stalled car. We overcame that today, and that’s what we need to keep doing. But as we keep going, we’ve got to make sure we don’t make those mistakes. I feel like the 2 car [Sadler] is not done winning, and I don’t feel like we’re done winning either. We’re just going to have to stay on our ‘A’ game.”

Ninth-place finisher and polesitter Joey Logano took the lead under caution on Lap 124 for Benny Gordon’s accident in Turn 3. Logano beat Dillon off pit road by six inches and led the field to a restart.

Stenhouse lost seven spots when his car stalled in the pits and took the green flag in the 11th position but gradually worked his way back through the field. By the time the race reached Lap 150, Stenhouse had passed Sadler for the third position.

Busch grabbed the top spot shortly after the restart on Lap 130 and pulled away to a lead of 1.5 seconds as Logano faded. Busch, Dillon and Stenhouse staged a three-car breakaway during that green-flag run, but a caution for Jason Bowles’ spin in Turn 3 on Lap 167 shuffled the running order.

With a 12.5-second stop for four tires and fuel, Sadler was first off pit road on Lap 168 and led Busch to a restart on Lap 172. Busch quickly reassumed the lead while Sadler dropped back to sixth by Lap 177.

Stenhouse, however, moved past Busch on Lap 180 and quickly established an advantage of more than a second.

The racing action aside, the real drama surrounded the Richard Childress Racing teams of Dillon and Sadler. Though he has been in or near the championship lead for the entire season, Sadler announced recently that he will leave RCR at the end of the season.

As Sadler and Dillon raced hard in traffic, Dillon’s crew chief, Danny Stockman, radioed to Dillon, “You will not help the 2 car tonight.” Dillon is third in points, 34 behind Stenhouse and still a contender for the championship, but the emphatic nature of Stockman’s admonition was surprising.

“We were just racing hard for the championship right there,” Dillon said. “We were racing hard by Sam [Hornish Jr.], or whoever it was, and the 2 went with the other guy when we could have used a push. That’s all it is, racing hard for a championship…

“Everybody’s worked up about it, RCR as a group working for a championship. We’re both wanting to win. We had to beat the 6 [Stenhouse], so we couldn’t help each other at all today. Did it hurt us? Not much, because the 6 was that much faster. It’s just racing hard. I don’t know what else to say — just part of the game, I guess.”

After the race, Sadler was mystified.

“I don’t know what that means, ‘Do not help the 2,'” he said when told of the exchange between Stockman and Dillon. “We share really good notes, and we always have, so I don’t know.”

Via the Nascar Wire Service

Results via

1 3 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford Blue Bird 47/4 200 Running
2 6 54 Kyle Busch Toyota Monster Energy 0 200 Running
3 2 3 Austin Dillon * Chevrolet American Ethanol 42/1 200 Running
4 16 22 Brad Keselowski Dodge Discount Tire 0 200 Running
5 7 33 Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards / Rheem 0 200 Running
6 4 12 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Avis 39/1 200 Running
7 8 43 Michael Annett Ford Pilot Flying J 38/1 200 Running
8 5 2 Elliott Sadler Chevrolet OneMain Financial 37/1 200 Running
9 1 18 Joey Logano Toyota Dollar General 0 200 Running
10 42 11 Brian Scott Toyota Dollar General 34/0 200 Running
11 10 31 Justin Allgaier Chevrolet Brandt 34/1 200 Running
12 12 7 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 32/0 200 Running
13 9 44 Mike Bliss Toyota 31/0 200 Running
14 13 88 Cole Whitt * Chevrolet Degree Men 30/0 200 Running
15 18 38 Brad Sweet * Chevrolet Great Clips 29/0 200 Running
16 25 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AM-FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves / AC General 29/1 200 Running
17 20 30 Alex Bowman Chevrolet Allegiant 27/0 200 Running
18 19 19 Tayler Malsam Toyota G-Oil / Noah’s Light Foundation 26/0 198 Running
19 21 01 Mike Wallace Chevrolet G&K Services 25/0 198 Running
20 11 199 Kenny Wallace Toyota Family Farmers 24/0 196 Running
21 17 70 Johanna Long * Chevrolet Foretravel Motorcoach 23/0 196 Running
22 34 40 Erik Darnell Chevrolet Curtis Key Plumbing 22/0 195 Running
23 22 23 Jamie Dick Chevrolet Viva Auto Group 21/0 195 Running
24 24 39 Dexter Stacey Ford Maddies Place 20/0 194 Running
25 30 14 Eric McClure Toyota Hefty / Reynolds Wrap 19/0 194 Running
26 37 41 Juan Carlos Blum Chevrolet VMP Nutrition / The New Miami Subs 18/0 193 Running
27 35 4 Danny Efland Chevrolet Tradebank 17/0 192 Running
28 15 81 Jason Bowles * Toyota MacDonald Motorsports 16/0 153 Engine
29 14 124 Benny Gordon * Toyota OCR Gaz Bar / 15/0 122 Susp.
30 31 51 Jeremy Clements Chevrolet USS James E. Williams DDG 95 14/0 68 Oil Leak
31 27 10 Jeff Green Toyota TriStar Motorsports 13/0 30 Vibration
32 39 89 Morgan Shepherd Chevrolet Victory In Jesus 12/0 30 Engine
33 36 15 Timmy Hill Ford Carport Empire 11/0 28 Vibration
34 38 28 Tony Raines Chevrolet Robinson-Blakeney Racing 0 26 Electrical
35 40 52 Joey Gase * Chevrolet Competition Transmission 9/0 23 Handling
36 29 100 Blake Koch Toyota OCR Gaz Bar 8/0 19 Vibration
37 33 171 Scott Riggs Chevrolet Lilly Trucking 0 19 Ignition
38 32 171 Matthew Carter Chevrolet Rick Ware Racing 6/0 15 Rear Gear
39 41 174 Mike Harmon Chevrolet Koma Unwind Relaxation Drink 5/0 12 Overheating
40 28 47 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Curtis Key Plumbing 0 11 Vibration
41 23 42 Josh Wise Chevrolet Key Motorsports 0 10 Electrical
42 26 46 Chase Miller Chevrolet The Motorsports Group 2/0 9 Overheating
43 43 108 Tim Andrews Ford Randy Hill Racing 1/0 9 Ignition

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