JOLIET, Ill. – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. edged past Kyle Busch and into the lead, then held on for the final 20 laps for a relatively easy victory.
Perhaps more importantly, he left Elliott Sadler even farther behind – and took over the Nationwide Series points lead for the first time since the beginning of June.
Stenhouse raced to his fifth Nationwide victory of the year, outlasting Busch on Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway. Once Stenhouse passed Busch on the 180th lap, there wasn’t much anyone could do to catch him. Stenhouse, the 2011 series champion, gave up the points lead to Sadler on June 2, but now he finally has it back.
We knew if we won coming in here to Chicago that we would leave the points leader and that is what it is all about, Stenhouse said. It is going to be tough as you can see. Elliott was up front as well and he runs good at every racetrack we have left as well. It is going to be a lot of fun.
Stenhouse has won two of the last four races – and finished second in the other two. He finished 2.402 seconds ahead of Busch. Austin Dillon was third, followed by Brad Keselowski and Paul Menard.
I feel like we’ve got good momentum, but in this business and this sport, anything can change at any time, Stenhouse said. You’ve got to keep your guard up. We’ve got to keep not making mistakes.
Stenhouse now leads Sadler by nine points atop the standings. Dillon is 25 points back.
NHRA: In Concord, N.C., Shawn Langdon earned the No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Nationals, the first event in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Langdon had a run of 3.807 seconds at 324.12 mph to take his second consecutive No. 1 qualifying position.
Tim Wilkerson topped the Funny Car field, Vincent Nobile took the Pro Stock lead, and Andrew Hines led the Pro Stock Motorcycle class.
Wilkerson had a run of 4.048 at 309.70 for his first top qualifying position of the season. Nobile claimed his first career No. 1 qualifying position with a 6.548 at 211.03, and Hines earned his third No. 1 qualifying position of the season with a run of 6.851 at 195.82.
INDYCAR: Roger Penske says he’d consider hiring AJ Allmendinger again and had the suspended NASCAR driver at the IndyCar season finale as his guest.
Allmendinger failed a NASCAR drug test in July and was released by Penske Racing when his backup B sample also tested positive. He’s currently participating in NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program.