Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leaves Homestead-Miami Speedway as the sixth driver to capture back-to-back NASCAR Nationwide Series championships in series history after a sixth-place finish in the Ford EcoBoost 300. Stenhouse Jr. shares this accomplishment with Sam Ard, Larry Pearson, Randy Lajoie, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. This is the fourth NASCAR Nationwide Series championship for car owner Jack Roush.

“I think it’s just a testament to how hard Jack (Roush) works to put these guys together. Mike (Kelley)’s done a great job building this team. It’s just a lot of hard work by a lot of great people and I’m just blessed to be a part of it,” Stenhouse Jr. said.

Race winner Regan Smith captured JR Motorsports first victory since 2010. The race was his first start for the organization this season and the first victory of his career in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Smith will run full-time for JR Motorsports in 2013. “It feels great. You look at it outside of the three champions, there’s only three other people that are going to leave here happy from Homestead this year, and fortunately we’re one of the teams that can,” Smith said.

Kyle Busch finished second, ending his streak of eight consecutive seasons with a NASCAR Nationwide victory. Busch’s  result gave him his second-straight second place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway during Ford Championship Weekend after finishing in the runner-up spot in Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200.

Stenhouse Jr. entered the race with a 20 point lead over fellow championship contenders Elliot Sadler and 25 points ahead of Austin Dillon. Stenhouse Jr.’s 2012 season included a series-high six wins, along with 19 top-fives and 26 top-10s.

Dillon was fifth at the end of the night, third in series points and was honored as the Sunoco Rookie of the Year. “I had a blast out there. We had a really good race car in the middle of the race. I love Homestead to race here. It’s a blast because you can move around, find speed, and really carry momentum to make passes,” Dillon said.

With two races and series finished at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the excitement of Ford Championship Weekend continues. The Ford EcoBoost 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship is set for Sunday, Nov. 18, at 3:00 p.m. 

(University of Miami Field Experience student, Rachel Krantz, contributed to this report)

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