Stenhouse Jr. takes the title as Smith takes the checkers

A winning combination - Mike Kelly, Jack Roush, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
on the grid at Texas Motor Speedway - Credit: Skirts and Scuffs 
When the green flag flew on the final NASCAR Nationwide Series race of the season, just 20 points separated defending series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and his closest threat, Elliott Sadler. Lurking and hoping one of the two leaders would have a catastrophic issue was Austin Dillon.

Although Dillon and Sadler fought hard, Stenhouse Jr. clinched his second straight title with a sixth place finish. Stenhouse Jr. becomes the sixth driver in series history to repeat joining Sam Ard, Larry Pearson, Randy LaJoie, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. Second place points finisher Elliott Sadler finishes behind Stenhouse Jr. for the second year in a row with Rookie of the Year winner Austin Dillon wrapping up third place in the title hunt. Joe Gibbs Racing led by Joey Logano and the No. 18 team captured the Owner's Championship.

Starting from the pole position, Kyle Busch looked to have the strongest car of the afternoon dominating the first portion of the race. As the race progressed, the No. 54 lost track position finishing second marking the first season since 2004 that Busch, the all-time series leader in wins, hasn't won in the series.

Regan Smith, who will join JR Motorsports in 2013 to contend for the Nationwide Series Championship, took home the win. In his victory lane interview Smith said he was sad to see the season end now, but looks forward to what the team can do in the future.

Top 10 in standings:  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Elliott Sadler, Austin Dillon, Sam Hornish Jr., Michael Annett, Justin Allgaier, Cole Whitt, Mike Bliss, Brian Scott, Danica Patrick

Final running order:
  1. Regan Smith
  2. Kyle Busch
  3. Brendan Gaughan
  4. Sam Hornish Jr.
  5. Austin Dillon
  6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 
  7. Brian Scott
  8. Ryan Blaney
  9. Elliott Sadler
  10. Cole Whitt
  11. Justin Allgaier
  12. Michael Annett
  13. Danica Patrick
  14. Joey Coulter
  15. Kenny Wallace
  16. Joey Logano
  17. Brad Sweet
  18. Joe Nemechek
  19. Mike Bliss
  20. Scott Lagasee Jr.
  21. Kevin Swindell
  22. Jeremy Clements
  23. Jeffrey Earnhardt
  24. David Starr
  25. Dakoda Armstrong
  26. Mike Wallace
  27. Eric McClure
  28. Andrew Ranger
  29. Jason Bowles
  30. Hal Martin
  31. Danny Efland
  32. Joey Gase
  33. Robert Richardson Jr.
  34. Johanna Long
  35. Erik Darnell
  36. John Blankenship
  37. Juan Carlos Blum
  38. Ryan Truex
  39. Blake Koch
  40. Jeff Green
  41. Chase Miller
  42. Josh Wise
  43. Dexter Stacey
Stenhouse Jr. takes the title as Smith takes the checkers Stenhouse Jr. takes the title as Smith takes the checkers Reviewed by Katy Lindamood on Saturday, November 17, 2012 Rating: 5