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Oct 30, 2012 - 06:52 PM
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O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge Advance & Entry List
Posted by: newsla on Oct 30, 2012 - 06:49 PM
O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge Advance & Entry List

Elliott Sadler has trophies on his mantel from victories in NASCAR's three top-tier national series, including a boot trophy from one of his three career Sprint Cup Series wins coming in the 2004 Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. However, the one item missing is a NASCAR championship trophy.


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Sadler is as close as he has ever been to winning a NASCAR championship in his 17-year career. He holds a six-point advantage over challenger and defending Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. heading into Saturday's O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge, which is set for 6:30 p.m. CT. With three races remaining, Sadler is determined to win his first championship.

"To be in this situation and position that I'm in right now, I can't ask for anything better," Sadler said. "Anybody who races, your number one goal is to try to be a champion. I've been able to be a champion in a lot of different things growing up and in a lot of different styles of racing, but I'm not a champion at the NASCAR top-three series level. That's definitely something that I want to become. For me and my family to be able to share that would definitely be a dream come true."

For Sadler to realize his dream he must first conquer Texas Motor Speedway, a track that he has excelled at during his career. He owns five top-10 finishes in his nine career Nationwide Series starts, including three of those among the top five. Sadler, whose best NNS finish at Texas is second in 1998, finished 12th in his most recent visit in April. He also is the defending polesitter of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.

"It's going to be a tough battle all the way to the end," Sadler said. "We feel good about the tracks that we got left. Stenhouse Jr. always runs good at Texas, so we know we are going to have to show up there with our guns loaded to be competitive and run up front. I think all of the races will count, but we definitely look at Texas Motor Speedway as a strong spot for us."

Tickets for the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge are available by contacting the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.

Click here for the official O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge entry list.
Cozy Confines For Roush Fenway

Roush Fenway Racing and its championship-contending driver and defending Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. look to continue an impressive streak in Nationwide Series competition at Texas Motor Speedway. The organization has captured the last four Nationwide Series races at TMS, including Stenhouse Jr.'s victory during April's O'Reilly Auto Parts 300.

In all, the organization has tallied nine Nationwide Series victories in 23 races held at Texas Motor Speedway. Stenhouse Jr. has fared well in five career starts, with three top-10 finishes as well as starting inside the top 10 in all of them. He credits team owner Jack Roush and the entire organization for the team's success.

"The development and engineering that Roush Fenway has done over the years, especially in the Nationwide cars, I feel like they really push really hard to figure out the aero packages of these cars," Stenhouse Jr. said. "That plays a big role here at Texas. Here as of late, bringing on the FR9 and the Roush Engines has definitely helped. This is a track where you need a lot of motor and you always want more. Great drivers like Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Carl (Edwards) they're really successful and that's contributed also."

Stenhouse Jr., who is six points behind championship leader Elliott Sadler, feels Texas Motor Speedway could provide the momentum the team needs to successfully defend their Nationwide Series title. While the organization's success makes him an early favorite, he understands that earning his second championship will not be easy.

"It's going to be tough," Stenhouse Jr. said. "This whole year has been tough and really tight. I feel confident in our equipment and the race tracks that we left. It's going to be hard racing until the end and try not to make mistakes."
Title Hunter

No driver has ever won a championship in different NASCAR series in consecutive years, but Richard Childress Racing's rookie driver Austin Dillon finds himself still in pursuit of that achievement. Dillon, last year's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, is still within striking distance of teammate Elliott Sadler as he sits 23 points back heading into Saturday's O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge Nationwide Series race.

Texas Motor Speedway proved to be a turning point for Dillon during last year's NCWTS championship run as he was able to increase his points advantage during the WinStar World Casino 350. Dillon hopes to make up ground and put pressure on Sadler and defending series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for the championship.

"You never know what is going to happen coming down to the last three races on the schedule, but I can say for sure that our No. 3 team will be giving 110 percent," Dillon said. "We need to gain maximum points and the only way to do that is to win races. Our team has had the best average finish on 1.5-mile tracks, but we need that little bit extra in order to get to Victory Lane. We've had fast cars each week and I think if we can put together wins the last few races we will have a chance at the championship."

Dillon is riding a wave of momentum heading into Texas Motor Speedway. He enters on a streak of nine consecutive top-10 finishes and in his previous five races on 1.5-mile tracks he has one victory (Kentucky Speedway) and has finished no worse than sixth. In his most recent visit to Texas Motor Speedway in April, he earned a fifth-place finish and led 13 laps.

"I feel really good at Texas Motor Speedway," Dillon said. "That's a place where we can go out and have a shot to win. Richard Childress Racing's intermediate track package is strong and I think we'll have a great shot once again to run up front and get a top-five finish."
'Happy' Returns

Before Kyle Busch's dominance at Texas Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, there was Kevin Harvick. Harvick was a staple in Victory Lane at "The Great American Speedway!" from 2001-07. During a 10-race span, he captured four victories (2001, '05-fall, '06-fall, '07-fall) and in the process became the first driver in Nationwide Series competition to earn four victories at Texas Motor Speedway.

Harvick returns to compete in the Nationwide Series at Texas Motor Speedway for the first time since November 2010 as he will be driving the No. 33 OneMain Financial Chevrolet. Three of his four victories have come in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge, which has Harvick optimistic he can earn his fifth at TMS.

"It's been a few years since I've raced in the Nationwide Series at Texas, but it's a track that I really enjoy racing at and one that I've had a lot of success at as well," Harvick said. "This is my final Nationwide race for the 2012 season, so I'm hoping we can continue on the success I've had there in the past and end the season on a high note."
Last Lap

Driver/owner Kyle Busch will pilot the No. 54 entry for his Kyle Busch Motorsports team in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge. Busch has dominated Nationwide Series events at TMS as he holds the track record for most victories with five. Busch has led more than 45 percent of the laps during his 13 career starts, leading 1,187 of a possible 2,605. ... Nationwide Series regulars have seen their share of success in recent races at Texas Motor Speedway. Prior to victories by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (April 2012) and Trevor Bayne (November 2011) in the two previous Nationwide races, full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers had won the previous 15 races. ... Ryan Newman will compete for Turner Motorsports during the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge, driving the No. 30 entry. Newman will make his first Nationwide Series start since he last competed at Phoenix International Raceway on Feb. 26, 2011, when he finished fourth.

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