Stenhouse keeps RFR Texas winning streak alive

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Amanda Vincent, NASCAR correspondent

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. overcame a slow pit stop early in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night to drive the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford into victory lane and give car owner Jack Roush his fourth-consecutive series win at TMS.

Paul Menard finished second after leading 100 laps of the 200-lap race in the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, and Kasey Kahne was third in the No. 38 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet.

One thing I do enjoy about this is running up front every week, and we have a shot to win every week.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

"I let one get way there," Menard said of sliding back through the field on the final restart of the race with fewer than 10 laps to go. "We both (himself and Stenhouse) spun our tires there."

Menard started on the pole, with the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Toyota of Denny Hamlin beside him on the front row. After starting the race in the third spot, Stenhouse got by both Hamlin and Menard to take the lead on lap four. He then began to pull away and built up a lead of more than three seconds by the time the first caution of the race came out on lap 46.

"One thing I do enjoy about this is running up front every week, and we have a shot to win every week," Stenhouse said. "That is all we can do."

Stenhouse's crew struggled to change the right front tire on the pit stop, though, causing the driver to lose five positions and restart the race in sixth.

Menard then assumed the top spot to lead several laps, with Kahne and Hamlin being his closest pursuers. Hamlin went from third to the lead on a restart around the halfway point of the race, and Stenhouse stuck behind him to claim the second spot. Another caution came out soon after though, and Stenhouse got shuffled back several positions on the following restart.

Hamlin also lost a couple of positions, leaving Menard to battle the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Elliott Sadler for the lead. As Menard and Sadler raced side-by-side for the top spot, Stenhouse moved back up to the third positions. Menard got in front of Sadler on lap 109, and Stenhouse quickly made his way by Sadler for second.

The race was red-flagged after lap 162 when some of the track's interior lights went dark. During the caution before the race returned to green, the frontrunners headed down pit road, while Austin Dillon, in the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, and David Ragan in the No. 27 GC Racing Ford, stayed out to restart first and second.

When the race was restarted, Ragan slid back through the field, but Dillon was able to hold off cars on newer tires, for a while. He lost the lead to Stenhouse with 24 laps to go, and then Menard got by him for second.

The yellow flag waved one more time with 13 laps to go to set things up for short sprint to the win between Stenhouse and Menard. Menard was shuffled back a few positions on the restart, and Hamlin replaced him as driver battling Stenhouse for the lead.

"Denny is a great race car driver, and I know when I am up there racing those guys (Hamlin and Menard) that I have my work cut out for me," Stenhouse said. "They raced me clean and Paul Menard raced me clean all night long, and it was a lot of fun up there racing with those guys. You can learn a lot from them."

Menard recovered to get by Hamlin and reassume the second position with three laps remaining. In the closing laps, Hamlin was also passed by Kahne. He wound up finishing fourth, and Dillon rounded out the top-five.

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Series NASCAR-NS
Tags feature, ford, kahne, menard, stenhouse, vincent