Kevin Harvick dominated the O'Reilly's Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway. It's Harvick's second win of the 2012 season and his 39th of his NASCAR Nationwide Series career. Harvick beat runner-up Ryan Blaney by a second.
Blaney's run was impressive coming from 13th to second on the final restart. On that same restart, which began on lap 180, Harvick was in front but had to hold off a fight from Kyle Busch, who's car was really good on restarts. Once Harvick cleared Busch, he sped away to victory. Kyle Busch ended up third. Busch's car was great early on but as track conditions cooled, his car started to become loose and he could never find the handle on his #54 Toyota.
Finishing in the fourth position was Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Stenhouse's car started off the race really good, but in the middle of the race, he complained about his car being extremely loose. Stenhouse found himself in the 13th position on lap 81, but after a couple good adjustments by crew chief Mike Kelley, Stenhouse's car got better and it improved and he worked to a fourth place finish. Stenhouse is now tied with Elliott Sadler, who finished 11th, for the points lead. Stenhouse was just happy the night was over.
"It was a tough night. On that second run we were really really loose. It was a tough night but we battled back they way we needed to on that last restart," said the defending Nationwide Series champion.
Finishing in the fifth position was Denny Hamlin. Hamlin had a post race altercation with Nationwide Series regular Austin Dillon. Hamlin and Dillon were coming onto pit road after the cool down lap when Hamlin veered left into Dillon's car and drove it into the wall. Dillon came back and hit Hamlin's car. Once stopped on pit road, Hamlin and the #3 Richard Childress Racing crew exchanged views on what happened and Hamlin had some choice words for Dillon during his post race interview with ESPN, in which Hamlin said that Dillon got his ride because of his name. Dillon finished in the sixth position and he is third in the standings 21 points back of the lead.
Sam Hornish Jr finished in the seventh position, with Justin Allgaier coming home eighth, and Kevin Swindell coming home ninth. Swindell was running in his first of a two race deal with Biagi-DenBeste Racing. The team has run a part time schedule in the series this year and the eighth by Swindell was the both the drivers and the teams first top ten. Joey Logano finished out the top ten.
Other notables include Elliott Sadler in 11th, Cole Whitt in 12th, Danica Patrick in 14th, Kenny Wallace in 15th and Ryan Newman in 19th.
The race began when Kyle Busch shot to the lead. Busch had a 1.6 second lead when the caution flew on lap 12 when Hal Martin hit the wall in his Tri-Star Motorsports Toyota. Martin would continue but finish in the 30th position. When the race restarted on lap 17, Busch shot out to a huge lead again. His lead was as much as 1.5 seconds, but the second caution would fly for debris on the back stretch on lap 45. After a round of pit stops Busch sped off to the lead again with Kevin Harvick in second.
On lap 57 Johanna Long began to experience problems on her #70 Chevrolet. Her shifter would break on her car and she would endure other issues. The problems would end Long's day with a 36th place finish. On lap 66, Harvick would chase down Kyle Busch showing his muscle for the first time in the race. Harvick would lead until the lap 82 caution when Jason Bowles hit the wall in his Toyota. Bowles would have more issues on his pit stop, when he car would catch on fire. Bowles would continue after his problems but he would finish in the 33rd position.
On the lap 90 restart Kyle Busch shot to the lead, but Harvick would pass Busch back a lap later. Harvick was still in the lead at half way, and by lap 130 he had a 1.6 second lead when the leaders began making green flag pit stops. After the pits stops, Harvick found himself in the lead again and would lead until the races' fourth caution of the night, when Joey Gase spun in turn three. Gase's car made contact with John Blankenship's Toyota. Gase would continue but finish 31st.
When the race restarted on lap 159, a few drivers stayed out after pit stops and found themselves in the front of the pack. It was short lived because Kevin Harvick had fresher tires and quickly got to the lead on lap 161. On lap 177, the races' fifth and final caution of the night would fly when Joe Nemechek blew a right front tire and hit the outside wall. Nemechek would continue and finish in the 20th position.
The race would restart on lap 180 with Harvick still in front. During the restart, Austin Dillon's car would get extremely loose and Brian Scott would hit the wall trying to avoid Dillon. The race would stay green but Scott would finish 22nd. On lap 191 Elliott Sadler fell to the tenth position as his handling went away on his #2 Chevrolet. Ryan Blaney shot to the second position, passing Kyle Busch on lap 193. Blaney wouldn't have enough for Harvick, who would sped away to victory without any major challenge from any driver.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series has two races left in the season and there is a tie on top of the points standings between Elliott Sadler and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Austin Dillon is third in the standings 21 points back, with Sam Hornish Jr in fourth 95 points back and Michael Annett fifth 195 points back. Sitting in sixth is Justin Allgaier, seventh is Cole Whitt with Mike Bliss in eighth, ninth is Brian Scott and Danica Patrick is tenth.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series will run the Great Clips 200 at Phoenix International Speedway on Saturday, November 10th.
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