Stenhouse Jr. Overcomes Early Accident to Finish 11th at Kentucky
SPARTA, Ky. (July 12, 2015)- After getting into an accident on lap 143, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. overcame adversity to lead the Roush Fenway Racing trio with his 11th- place finish in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Kentucky Speedway.
“We were all over the place,” Stenhouse said. “We started out really good. I thought our Fifth Third Ford was solid. We took two tires and made an adjustment and it fired off okay, but it didn’t hold on at all. We lost all of our track position, lost a lap, and we were fighting all night trying to get that back. We were four-wide going into one and just got jumbled and I got in the back of the No. 26. I slid and got in the fence and then we had to make some different adjustments to get the car better after that because of the aero package.
“What I did to the right-rear quarter took all the air off the side, so we had to make some more adjustments,” added Stenhouse. “Nick and the guys in the pits did a great job. We gained some spots and went forward. We took two tires there at the end and I wasn’t sure how it was going to work because we did it earlier in the race and I didn’t like it at all, but we were able to march forward. We were getting really close to a top 10. We were running down the No. 41, but I made a mistake in the last 10 laps that cost me. I didn’t gain as much one lap and I think we could have had it, but it was a solid night for us. It’s something to build off of and I think I really like this package, but we’ve still got to fine-tune our car. We still don’t have that all-out speed that we’re looking for. I think on the longer runs we were okay. We just have to find some more speed.”
With the new rules package, NASCAR allowed the teams extra practice time but rain washed out two days of practice. NASCAR made the executive decision to allow the teams to practice instead of qualifying setting the field by first practice session speeds.
After starting the 267-lap race in the 17th position, the Olive Branch, Miss. native ran solidly in the top-20 before taking two tires due to pit strategy causing Stenhouse to lose several positions due to an ill-handling machine.
On lap 143, the two-time XFINITY champion was racing four wide when he made contact with the No. 26 sending the Fifth Third Ford into the outside wall. The No. 17 crew worked feverishly to repair the right side damage keeping Stenhouse on the lead lap.
After restarting in the 36th position, the 2013 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year patiently maneuvered his Ford up inside the top 20 by lap 200. Crew chief Nick Sandler brought the Fifth Third Ford to pit road on the final caution flag of the race to get two tires and a splash of fuel.
With 43 laps remaining, Stenhouse Jr. restarted 18th gaining seven positions in the closing laps to take the checkered flag in the 11th position; earning his best finish this season on a mile-and-a-half track.
Next up for Stenhouse and the No. 17 team return to New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 19. Race coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Coverage can also be heard on MRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90.