Stenhouse picks up where he left off: The Sam's Town 300 Review (Better Late Than Never Edition)

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 10: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #6 Ford EcoBoost Ford, does a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 10, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images for NASCAR)

(Please Note: My apologies to Troy and everyone else for not getting this posted in a timely fashion, I went out of town for a few days and left my computer sitting in the front hallway by the front door - Bob)

Last year it took until race 12 for a Nationwide-only driver to win. This year, all three winners are non-Cup series regulars. Buescher is a truck regular, last week we had 2011 runner-up Elliott Sadler, and this week it's the 2011 Nationwide Champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Stenhouse won in true Roush fashion, he didn't have the strongest car to start but through adjustments and great pit work Stenhouse got the car locked in with 55 laps to go and never looked back. It was a great way for Ricky to prove that he's ready for another Championship run this year.

While one Roush driver was celebrating, the other was saying goodbye to his Championship chances for the second straight year. Trevor Bayne, who sits just 19 points back in 4th place, will not be entered next week due to lack of sponsorship and funding (please note this was written before Bayne's announcement this week - more on that later). Roush can only run one of the two drivers for the full year, and the choice was made easy with Stenhouse defending his championship. Bayne last year had to miss a few weeks due to lyme disease. Roush Fenway will be a one car team next week. It's quite a change from a team that once ran four full time cars in the Nationwide Series.

Results and More after the jump!

Finish Qual. Driver Team Laps Status
1 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford 200 Running
2 7 Mark Martin 18 Interstate Toyota 200 Running
3 1 Elliott Sadler 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet 200 Running
4 14 Trevor Bayne 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford 200 Running
5 9 Brendan Gaughan 33 South Point Chevrolet 200 Running
6 22 Cole Whitt 88 TaxSlayer / Air Hogs Chevrolet 200 Running
7 3 Austin Dillon 3 American Ethanol / AdvoCare Chevrolet 200 Running
8 8 Justin Allgaier 31 Brandt Chevrolet 200 Running
9 13 Sam Hornish Jr. 12 Alliance Truck Parts / Dodge Dealers Dodge 200 Running
10 2 Kasey Kahne 38 Great Clips Chevrolet 200 Running
11 18 Kenny Wallace 09 RAB Racing Toyota 200 Running
12 12 Danica Patrick 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet 200 Running
13 21 Michael Annett 43 Pilot Travel Centers / Flying J Ford 200 Running
14 11 James Buescher 30 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet 200 Running
15 19 Mike Bliss 44 Bandit Toyota 200 Running
16 17 Tayler Malsam 19 G-Oil Chevrolet 200 Running
17 24 Mike Wallace 01 The Gun Store Chevrolet 198 Running
18 32 Blake Koch 41 Poynt Chevrolet 198 Running
19 15 Johanna Long 70 Foretravel / Biomet Chevrolet 198 Running
20 31 Joe Nemechek 87 AM FM Energy Toyota 198 Running
21 25 Jeremy Clements 51 GoodInfo.com Chevrolet 197 Running
22 43 Morgan Shepherd 89 GoodInfo.com Chevrolet 197 Running
23 5 Brad Keselowski 22 Discount Tire / Dodge Dealers Dodge 196 Running
24 40 Robert Richardson 23 North Texas Pipe Chevrolet 196 Running
25 27 Eric McClure 14 Hefty / Reynolds Wrap Toyota 196 Running
26 42 Danny Efland 4 JD Motorsports Chevrolet 194 Running
27 10 Jason Bowles 81 American Majority Toyota 188 Running
28 16 Kyle Fowler 08 Randy Hill Racing Ford 165 Out of race
29 35 Tim Schendel 52 Means Motorsports Chevrolet 164 Running
30 29 Benny Gordon 24 SR2 Motorsports Toyota 146 Running
31 38 T.J. Bell 50 Turbine Powered Technology Chevrolet 140 Out of race
32 36 Derrike Cope 28 JPO Absorbents Chevrolet 137 Out of race
33 20 Kyle Busch 54 Monster Energy Toyota 127 Running
34 4 Brian Scott 11 Dollar General Toyota 94 Out of race
35 34 Erik Darnell 40 The Motorsports Group Chevrolet 91 Out of race
36 37 Jennifer Jo Cobb 13 Glen Lerner Dodge 72 Out of race
37 30 Joey Gase 39 Go Green Racing Ford 41 Out of race
38 23 J.J. Yeley 27 GC Motorsports International Ford 39 Out of race
39 33 Chase Miller 46 The Motorsports Group Chevrolet 6 Start and Park
40 28 Jeff Green 10 TriStar Motorsports Toyota 4 Start and Park
41 39 Josh Wise 42 The Motorsports Group Chevrolet 4 Start and Park
42 26 Scott Speed 47 The Motorsports Group Chevrolet 3 Start and Park
43 41 Mike Harmon 74 American Heroes / Boston's Ford 3 Start and Park

I hope it wasn't lost on anyone that Mark Martin got beat by a Roush #6 Ford. Don't look now, but Austin Dillon and Cole Whitt are going to make this Rookie of the Year an interesting one. Both are in the top five in points after three races. Here's how it shakes down:

Rank Car # Driver Points Starts Wins Top 5 Top 10 Poles
1 2 Elliott Sadler 131 3 1 3 3 1
2 3 Austin Dillon 116 3 0 2 3 0
3 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 114 3 1 2 2 0
4 60 Trevor Bayne 112 3 0 1 2 0
5 88 Cole Whitt 109 3 0 1 2 0
6 12 Sam Hornish Jr. 98 3 0 0 2 0
7 19 Tayler Malsam 90 3 0 0 1 0
8 43 Michael Annett 82 3 0 0 1 0
9 31 Justin Allgaier 76 3 0 0 1 0
10 41 Blake Koch 66 3 0 0 0 0

Its time to start looking at the Owner Points battles. There are two every year. The Owner's Championship and the fight for the top 30 to get locked in every week. Here's the top of the charts:

Rank Car # Team Points Starts Driver
1 2 Richard Childress Racing 131 3 Elliott Sadler
2 33 Richard Childress Racing 117 3 Brendan Gaughan
3 3 Richard Childress Racing 116 3 Austin Dillon
4 6 Roush Fenway Racing 114 3 Ricky Stenhouse
5 60 Roush Fenway Racing 112 3 Trevor Bayne
6 30 Turner Motorsports 109 3 James Buescher
7 88 JR Motorsports 109 3 Cole Whitt
8 22 Penske Racing South 107 3 Brad Keselowski
9 12 Penske Racing South 98 3 Sam Hornish
10 38 Turner Motorsports 97 3 Kasey Kahne

We have two more races before we go to the new Owner points to decide who is locked in. After race five we will take a two week break before returning to Nationwide Action. Here's how things look after three races:

Rank Car # Team Points Starts Driver
27 09 RAB Racing 56 3 Kenny Wallace
28 01 JD Motorsports 56 3 Mike Wallace
29 08 Randy Hill Racing 51 3 Casey Roderick
30 23 R3 Motorsports 51 3 Robert Richardson
31 11 Joe Gibbs Racing * 48 3 Brian Scott
32 50 Make Motorsports * 48 3 T.J. Bell
33 81 MacDonald Motorsports * 45 3 Jason Bowles
34 39 Go Green Racing * 41 3 Joey Gase
35 52 Means Motorsports * 39 3 Tim Schendel
* Not In

Join us later today for the preview of Short Track Racing at Bristol. Enjoy!

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