FORT WORTH — It was Junior Day on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway.
Just a few hours after Martin Truex Jr. won the pole for Saturday's Sprint Cup race, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. pulled away to take the checkered flag in the Nationwide O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway.
Stenhouse nearly lost the lead to Denny Hamlin on a restart with seven laps to go, but he regained control and ran away with the victory.
“It was crazy, man,” Stenhouse said. “I think I spent the whole five laps we were under caution praying for a good restart, and everything worked out for us. Denny was on the left rear of us and got us a little bit loose, but we managed to hang on.”
The win was Stenhouse's second of the year, pulling him within four points of Elliott Sadler for the Nationwide lead.
Paul Menard led exactly half of the 200 laps, more than any other driver. He took second, and Kasey Kahne was third, both hoping to gain some knowledge that will benefit them in Saturday's Samsung Mobile 500.
“I guess what I can take away from this is what it does when the sun goes down and the track cools off,” Menard said. “You can see what the tires feel like after 40 or 50 laps and where you can move around on the racetrack to gain time.
“The cars drive so different, it's hard to relate a whole lot back and forth. But maybe some of the adjustments we made can translate over.”