Stenhouse poised to snare Nationwide double

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #6 Cargill Ford, prepares to drive during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2012 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #6 Cargill Ford, prepares to drive during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2012 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

Just before Ricky Stenhouse Jr. embarks on a full-time career in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, he remains on the verge of a whale of a parting gift — his second straight NASCAR Nationwide Series title.

Stenhouse carries a 20-point lead over championship rival Elliott Sadler into Saturday’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 300 (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2), meaning he’ll need to finish 16th or better to hoist the Nationwide trophy. Stenhouse led Sadler by a much more comfortable 41 points heading into last season’s finale.

“The 20-point lead makes us feel good,” Stenhouse said after running third last weekend at Phoenix, “but we’ve given up 20 points in one race so it’s not over till it’s over. We still have some work to do at Homestead, but it feels pretty good.”

For Sadler, heavy crashes in the third turn at Phoenix have been his late-season nemesis for the past two seasons. Last Sunday was no different, leaving him plenty of catching up to do at Homestead.

“I love the determination and the heart each member of the team has, and although we head to Homestead with a deficit, we are not out of this championship,” Sadler said. “We will fight until the end. We have to finish off what we started, and we are as prepared as we need to be to go out there and make it happen.”

If Stenhouse and Sadler both run into trouble, the door is open for rookie Austin Dillon — third in the standings, 25 points off the lead — to swoop in for the championship. Sprint Cup series regular Joey Logano will likely also be a factor at Homestead, but in the race and not the season-long title hunt. Logano, who has won three of the series’ last five events, will be going for his 10th win in 22 Nationwide starts this year.

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.