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NASCAR At Bristol: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Explains Frustration In Nationwide Race

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. says his late contact with Justin Allgaier during Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Bristol was the result of frustration – both with the race and Allgaier himself.

Stenhouse was frustrated to see his shot at a race win slip away with a two-tire call when eventual winner Elliott Sadler stayed on the track, but he was also upset with the way Allgaier raced him earlier in the day.

That led to some hard contact between the two drivers as the laps wound down.

"I was frustrated, obviously, with our race car and the call to take tires," Stenhouse said via phone Saturday night. "But it goes back to earlier in the race. ... I had gotten to the outside of (Allgaier), and he pinched us into the wall. He's the hardest guy to pass in the Nationwide Series, it seems like."

When Allgaier and Stenhouse found one another again toward the end of the event, Stenhouse was steamed.

"If I'd seen that respect earlier in the race, I wouldn't have made it tough on him there at the end," he said.

Allgaier said the contact was "no big deal" after the race but asked Stenhouse's teammate Trevor Bayne what he could have done differently (Bayne said he didn't see the incident).

"You do everything to race as hard as you can and as clean as you can and hope everybody else races you the same way," Allgaier said.

Though he was frustrated at the time, Stenhouse said he spoke to crew chief Mike Kelley after the race and told him, "I never want to have your job, deciding whether to come in or stay out."

But the driver said he nearly stayed out on his own instead of coming down pit road to take two tires. The team knew Sadler would do the opposite of whatever it decided, and that led to Sadler winning the race.

On that note, the defending Nationwide Series champion said he's fully aware the points race with Sadler is "gonna be a battle."

Sadler now leads Stenhouse by 25 points in the standings, and the Roush Fenway Racing driver said he believes rookie Austin Dillon will be a factor in the championship hunt as well.

"(Sadler and his team) are not making any mistakes right now, and they're on top of their game," Stenhouse said. "We're going to have to be on top of our game, too. It's going to be fun. The way the Nationwide Series is right now, it's going to be really interesting."