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Lap-by-Lap: Texas

April 16, 2012, ,

Lap 200 -- CHECKERED FLAG: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is your winner. It's his second victory this season. Paul Menard finishes second, 1.4 seconds back. Kasey Kahne takes third from Denny Hamlin at the stripe, while Austin Dillon is fifth.

David Ragan, Justin Allgaier, Danica Patrick, Michael Annett and Steve Arpin rounded out the top 10.

Lap 199 -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has several car lengths on second place Paul Menard.

Lap 197 -- Paul Menard gets around Denny Hamlin for second place.

Lap 195 -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. clears Denny Hamlin for the top spot.

Lap 194 -- GREEN FLAG: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin and Justin Allgaier lead the field to the restart. Hamlin goes three wide into Turn 1, and somehow, Stenhouse comes out with the lead.

Lap 193 -- The restart has been waved off.

Lap 189 -- A few cars further back on the lead lap come down pit road for service.

Lap 186 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 5: Kurt Busch's engine erupts in a plume of smoke.

Lap 185 -- In his last four starts this year, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has finishes of third, first, sixth and second.

Lap 182 -- Denny Hamlin slides by Kasey Kahne for third place at the end of the backstretch.

Lap 181 -- Less than 20 laps to go. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has a lead of about half a second over Paul Menard.

Lap 179 -- On older tires, Austin Dillon has dropped back to fifth place.

Lap 176 -- Austin Dillon wiggles a bit coming off Turn 2, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. zips to the inside for the lead. Paul Menard follows into second place.

Lap 175 -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. comes out on top of the battle for second place, but Menard and Kasey Kahne are still right behind him.

Lap 173 -- Paul Menard and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are side by side for second place.

Lap 172 -- GREEN FLAG: Austin Dillon, David Ragan, Paul Menard, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kasey Kahne are the leaders. It's four wide back in the back. Dillon clears for the lead between Turns 3 and 4.

Lap 169: Cars are rolling again. The race goes back under the yellow at 10:51 p.m. ET, a delay of only about nine minutes.

Lap 169 -- RED FLAG: The race is stopped at 10:42 p.m. ET. Hey ... at least it's not a jet dryer!

Lap 168 -- Technicians on site report that it's going to take about ten minutes to change a circuit breaker to repair the lights. The race will be red flagged.

Lap 164 -- Most of the leaders roll into the pits for what could be the final time tonight. Austin Dillon and David Ragan on the track.

Lap 162 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 4: The bank of lights going into Turn 3 is out again.

Lap 156 -- Paul Menard's lead over Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is about 1.8 seconds.

Lap 154 -- After the cycle of green-flag stops, Paul Menard is still the leader. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is second, Elliott Sadler third, Kasey Kahne fourth and Austin Dillon fifth.

Lap 151 -- David Ragan, who assumed the point during the stops, drops onto pit road.

Lap 150 -- Fifty laps to go. Denny Hamlin gives up the lead to pull into his pit stall. Cole Whitt is also on pit road.

Lap 149 -- Sam Hornish Jr. makes his stop..

Lap 148 -- Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and others are making their stops.

Lap 147 -- Elliott Sadler is pitting.

Lap 145 -- Running in eighth place, Justin Allgaier hits pit road. He might, maybe, possibly, hopefully be able to make it the rest of the way without stopping.

Lap 142 -- A note from earlier in the race ... Jeff Green has taken over the car started by Eric McClure, who is ill. Green is now shown in 29th place, seven laps down.

Lap 140 -- Sixty laps to go. The top five are Paul Menard, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Elliott Sadler, Kasey Kahne and Austin Dillon.

Lap 136 -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had closed the gap on Paul Menard, but subsequently told his crew that he couldn't drive any harder than what he was. He's now dropped back several car lengths.

Lap 130 -- In 21 previous Cup and Nationwide starts at Texas, Paul Menard had led a total of four laps. He's paced 72 so far in this event.

Lap 126 -- Paul Menard's best Nationwide Series finish here at Texas is a third, last spring.

Lap 122 -- Paul Menard has not been able to shake Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Only a few car lengths separate the two at the moment.

Lap 115 -- Sam Hornish Jr. is now in fourth place.

Lap 114 -- Hold that thought. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has dropped back a couple of car lengths, running the high line while leader Paul Menard is hugging the white line on the bottom fo the track.

Lap 112 -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has caught Paul Menard for the lead, and should be making his move any time now.

Lap 110 -- Whatever ailed Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s car on the restart is no more. He fights his way past Elliott Sadler for second place.

Lap 108 -- After a wild battle for the lead, Paul Menard is finally clear for the lead.

Lap 105 -- Paul Menard shoots under Elliott Sadler and Denny Hamlin in a three-wide battle for the lead. Hamlin backs out, and lets Sadler and Menard go after each other.

Lap 104 -- Elliott Sadler powers to the outside of Denny Hamlin for the lead, and they go side by side for most of the lap.

Lap 103 -- GREEN FLAG: Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier and Paul Menard are the top five. Stenhouse gets a terrible restart and drops back dramatically. Hamlin clears for the lead.

Lap 100 -- The race has reached the halfway point.

Lap 98 -- A bank of lights on the inside of Turn 3 has gone out, extending this caution.

Lap 95 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 3: Blake Koch spins off Turn 2 after contact from Kurt Busch.

Lap 95 -- GREEN FLAG: Paul Menard, Elliott Sadler, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are the leaders. Hamlin dives three wide in Turns 1 and 2 to score the lead.

Lap 93 -- Cars a lap or more down are pitting. Kurt Busch, running 16th on the lead lap, mistakenly stayed on the track when the leaders pitted. He has to pit this time around.

Lap 92 -- The leaders are back on pit road.

Lap 90 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 2: Brad Keselowski had just come out of the garage and back onto the track when he spins off Turn 4.

Lap 86 -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s car doesn't appear to be nearly as good as it was before the caution. He's now in sixth place, 6.6 seconds back of Paul Menard.

Lap 84 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is now running eighth. Joooooooon-yer!!!

Lap 82 -- The top-five drivers right now are Paul Menard, Denny Hamlin, Elliott Sadler, Kasey Kahne and Austion Dillon.

Lap 78 -- Denny Hamlin has erased about half a second off Paul Menard's advantage up front.

Lap 73 -- Paul Menard's lead over Denny Hamlin is about 1.9 seconds, and Elliott Sadler is 3.7 seconds down.

Lap 71 -- Elliott Sadler has moved into third place, past Kasey Kahne.

Lap 64 -- Brian Scott's car goes to the garage.

Lap 63 -- Brian Scott, smoke trailing from the exhaust pipes on his car, and pulls onto pit road. He was in eighth place.

Lap 62 -- Denny Hamlin scoots under Kasey Kahne for second place on the backstretch.

Lap 60 -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has picked his way back up to fourth place, 1.2 seconds behind leader Paul Menard.

Lap 55 -- Paul Menard is finally able to pull down in front of Kasey Kahne for the top spot.

Lap 54 -- They're still fighting it out for the lead up front, with Denny Hamlin just behind in third place.

Lap 53 -- GREEN FLAG: Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin and Elliott Sadler are the leaders on the restart. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. comes to the green in sixth place. The front two stay side by side the entire lap.

Lap 48 -- The leaders are on pit road.Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s crew has a rough stop on the right front tire.

Lap 46 -- Brad Keselowski takes his car to the garage. He had been running in sixth place.

Lap 45 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 1: Hey, there's must've been something to those debris reports! There's something on the track in Turn 3. Having scraped the wall, Kurt Busch had just pitted.

Lap 44 -- Green-flag pit stops must be getting close. Drivers are beginning to report debris, hoping to draw a lucky caution.

Lap 42 -- Denny Hamlin has chopped nearly a second off Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s lead in the last several laps. It's now down to about 2.5 seconds or so.

Lap 40 -- Expect pit stops to begin within the next few laps.

Lap 38 -- Denny Hamlin goes to the high side of Paul Menard for second place between Turns 3 and 4.

Lap 36 -- Austin Dillon powers under Kasey Kahne for fourth place coming off Turn 2.

Lap 31 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is making a fairly rare Nationwide Series start tonight, but he's not showing much yet. Junior is shown in 16th place, more than 16 seconds behind the leader. He collected the first wins of his career on both this circuit and the Cup tour here at Texas.

Lap 27 -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has opened his lead over Paul Menard to more than 2.1 seconds.

Lap 26 -- Kasey Kahne is now running fourth, with Austin Dillon in fifth.

Lap 24 -- Denny Hamlin appears content to ride a few car lengths behind second-place Paul Menard for the time being.

Lap 17 -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is trying a new higher line around the race track, which has allowed him to widen the gap back to Paul Menard to about 1.6 seconds. He's also having some terrible radio interference.

Lap 12 -- The top-three cars -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Paul Menard and Denny Hamlin -- are each separated by about 3/10ths of a second.

Lap 10 -- In four previous Nationwide Series starts here, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s best finish is a sixth last fall.

Lap 6 -- Leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is the only Roush Fenway Racing entry in the race.

Lap 4 -- New leader! Ricky Stenhouse Jr. gets a huge run on Paul Menard on the backstretch.

Lap 2 -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. grabs second place from Denny Hamlin.

Lap 1 -- GREEN FLAG: The race goes green at 8:48 p.m. ET. Pole-sitter Paul Menard clears for the lead coming off Turn 2. Denny Hamlin and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. remain side by side for second place.

8:46 p.m. ET -- One lap to go the the green!

8:42 p.m. ET -- The pace car is beginning to roll the field off pit road. After a two-week break, it's time to go Nationwide Series racing again!

8:39 p.m. ET -- Alan Nurenberg, owner of Aamco, gives the command to fire engines.

8:34 p.m. ET -- Two T-45 jet fighters from VT-9 Naval Air Station in Meridian, Miss. do the fly-over from Turn 4 to Turn 1. One of these days, folks. One of these days ... bucket list!!!

8:32 p.m. ET -- Jeska Bailey, a Texas Motor Speedway contest winner, is singing the national anthem.

8:31 p.m. ET -- Texas Motor Speedway track chaplain Father Jay Atwood is delivering the invocation.

8:26 p.m. ET -- Five minutes from the start of the invocation and right after that, the national anthem.

8:22 p.m. ET -- One of the most powerful historical sites anywhere near a stop on the NASCAR circuit is here in Texas -- Dealy Plaza in nearby Dallas, where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963.

8:14 p.m. ET -- Loud and clear tower! NASCAR officials and inspectors on pit road road are going through their weekly radio checks.

8:05 p.m. ET -- Driver introductions have started.

8 p.m. ET -- Well ... it's NOT Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on the pole, but he's close. Paul Menard was the fastest in qualifying Friday afternoon, followed by Denny Hamlin. Stenhouse wound up third, followed by Austin Dillon and Elliott Sadler in the top five. Kurt Busch, Cole Whitt, Kasey Kahne, Steve Arpin and Mike Bliss in the top 10.

Morgan Shepherd and John Jackson failed to qualify for the event.

12:26 p.m. ET: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was fastest in both practice sessions, so he's the guy to beat for the pole once qualifying starts at 5 p.m.

Danica Patrick and Johanna Long were both amongst the top-10 fastest drivers in the second session -- Patrick fourth and Long eighth.