LAS VEGAS — Defending NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. took the lead on a late-race pit stop and drove away from the field to win Saturday’s Sam’s Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Driving the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, Stenhouse narrowly beat Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver Mark Martin out of the pits and won by 5.093 seconds.
It was Stenhouse’s third career victory, first of the season and first on a speedway, coming at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas oval.
“We were talking in the truck during driver intros and to be racing alongside of him (Martin) was cool,” said Stenhouse. “He raced us really clean and we had a lot of fun.”
Stenhouse led 55 of the 200 laps.
Martin, who won at Las Vegas in 2011, finished second while series point leader Elliott Sadler overcame early race problems to battle back to a third-place finish in his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.
“That was one serious beat down that Ricky Stenhouse put on me at the end,” said Martin. “I almost wrecked five or six times there at the end trying to keep up.”
“The car was fast at the end of the race,” said Sadler. “We drove up from 20th to third. This is how you win championships. I’m proud of the guys for how they made this car better throughout the race.”
Stenhouse’s teammate, Trevor Bayne, was fourth in the Roush Fenway No. 60 Ford, with Brendan Gaughan taking fifth in a second Richard Childress entry.
Rookie Cole Whitt finished sixth in a Chevrolet for JR Motorsports
There were 10 lead changes among eight drivers in a race slowed by seven yellow flags for 32 laps.
Stenhouse averaged 126.965 mph and completed the distance in two hours, 26 minutes and 53 seconds.BREAKING NEWS: SPEED SPORT is back in print with a new monthly format! Subscribe for just $24.95. Special offer for former subscribers.