Following an eventful morning that saw Kyle Busch parked for both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, the Nationwide Series took to the track for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.
And the Carl Edwards show ensued. the Cup points leader led four times for a race high 157 laps. But in the end, it was another Roush driver in one Trevor Bayne who took advantage of a restart with just seven laps remaining to score his first Nationwide Series victory in 77 starts, surpassing his previous best finish of third at Charlotte a couple weeks ago. Denny Hamlin, Edwards, Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top 5. Point leader Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. finished sixth, followed by Sam Hornish, Jr. Joey Logano, Elliott Sadler and Brian Vickers rounded out the top 10.
“This is just as surreal as the 500,” said Bayne in victory lane. “That’s hard to say, but this has been so long. We’ve worked so hard to get our first Nationwide win. These guys worked their butts off to get us here and God pulled us through.”
“Man this is incredible. Normally you don’t want a record for leading the least laps, but it’s okay when you have a win at the end of it. We’re really excited for this win and the fashion we were able to do it there at the end to race against Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin, two of the best drivers and two of the best cars in the series.” Bayne continued. “Carl drove me really, really clean there at the end. He did all he could to hold us off, I guess, and it was still really clean. I can’t describe how this feels to get a win in the nationwide series finally and to do it with these guys and at a track like Texas–it means a lot to me.”
In a race that featured just five cautions, two of which were for debris, the action included an 84 lap green flag run where all but 11 drivers were lapped before the second yellow flew. The biggest incident Saturday afternoon came when Jason Leffler got loose in turn 3 before bouncing off the wall in turn 4 to bring out the fifth and final caution, setting up the seven lap shootout that allowed Bayne to snag the win over Edwards.
“The restart, I was really happy Trevor was behind me and then he wasn’t behind me anymore. I was really happy he was able to hold off the [No.] 18,” Edwards said after the race. “Our Fastenal Mustang was good all day, but towards the end we didn’t adjust our car as well which is just as much my fault as anyone’s.”
The victory clinched the Nationwide Series Manufacturers’ Championship for Ford Racing. So far this season, Ford has 13 victories, the most for the manufacturer in the series since winning 16 times in 2002.
“We’re thrilled to win the NASCAR Nationwide Manufacturers’ Championship. Not only is it our first since 2002, but, more importantly, it’s the first championship for Mustang in NASCAR,” Jamie Allison, Director of Ford Racing said. “Mustang–as it has for 47 years–continues to be a force in all forms of racing. This has been a great year for Ford and Roush Fenway in Nationwide, with Carl, Ricky and Trevor all providing some great moments and 13 victories. Now, it would be great to add the driver’s championship by Rick to this special year for Mustang and Ford.”
With just two races remaining, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. actually added two points to his lead over Elliott Sadler and takes a 17 point cushion into Phoenix next weekend. Justin Allgaier and Aric Almirola are tied for third, 99 points behind Stenhouse, with former title contender Reed Sorenson rounding out the top 5.
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