FORT WORTH, Texas — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hardly had the body language of the new Nationwide Series points leader.
Kevin Harvick won the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway, but Stenhouse's fourth-place finish — far better than he believed was capable with the car he had Saturday night — moved him to the top spot in the standings with two races to go as he tries to defend his series championship.
“It wasn't a great night for us,” Stenhouse said. “We felt we had a better car in practice.
“I didn't think we would get it back to a top-five car. We took advantage of that second-to-last restart and got our track position, and that was the best we could do.”
For points purposes, Stenhouse benefitted the most, with the top three finishers being non-points racers on the Nationwide Series — Harvick, Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch.
Mathematically, Stenhouse and previous leader Elliott Sadler are tied with 1,170 points, but Stenhouse is considered the leader via tiebreaker, with six wins on the season to four for Sadler.