The final race of the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide series at Homestead certainly had its headlines. With Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leading Elliott Sadler by 20 points and Austin Dillon by 25 points, one mistake by any of these drivers could cost them the championship.
Kyle Busch grabbed the pole for the race lead all but one of the first 66 laps before the first caution came out when Ryan Truex crashed out in turn four and during pit stops under the yellow Ricky Stenhouse beat Kyle Busch out of the pits but Elliott Sadler made a bold move to stay out and lead a lap and the two championship contenders started side by side on the restart. None of that mattered though, as Kyle Busch immediately took back the lead but the old term “cautions breed cautions” took effect. Just a few laps later Robert Richardson Jr spun out of turn 4 to bring out another caution.
When the green flag flew again after a somewhat lengthy caution Kyle Busch resumed his dominant performance until once again Robert Richardson Jr spun out in turn 4 and right before the caution came out Regan Smith took the lead. After the pit stops, under the caution the top 3 out of the pits were Sam Hornish, Regan Smith and Kyle Busch but the race leader was Danica Patrick who stayed out. The big incident that happened during the pit stops was with Elliott Sadler whose team did not get all of the lug nuts on one of the tires and as a result Elliott restarted in 19th.
Danica quickly got swarmed by all of the leaders and the leader became Sam Hornish Jr. Then on lap 105 championship contender Austin Dillon easily passed Hornish and became 18 points behind Stenhouse. Not much changed until with 28 laps to go one of NASCAR’s “mysterious debris” cautions came out and then came the final pit stops. They came out of the pits: Dillon, Smith and Sadler and Stenhouse came out 5th.
Regan Smith took the lead and then a few laps later, Joey Logano got into the back of Johanna Long and sent her hard into the wall and that brought out another caution. Regan Smith again got a good restart and took off and Dillon did not get a good restart and fell back a few spots. Stenhouse Jr was told by his team to stop racing hard, but seemed to pay them no mind. (Maybe that’s why he wasn’t so happy after the race!?)
Not much happened after that and when the checkard flag flew it was Regan Smith winning the race in his first nationwide start in five years and his first for JR Motorsports, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr winning the Nationwide championship for the 2nd year in a row.