Stenhouse Jr. Leads 11 Laps In Season Opener
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 18, 2018) – After leading 11 laps and finishing fourth in stage one, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. battled back to 16th despite an unscheduled pit-stop before being collected in a multi-car accident resulting in a 29th- place finish in Sunday’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
“It’s a bummer,” Stenhouse said. “I made a huge save there on the back straightaway and I felt like we were doing everything we needed to do. We missed some of the big wrecks and it was just unfortunate there at the end.
“It didn’t really matter because we were a lap down already, so we weren’t really going to make up any more positions, but, all in all, it was a fun Speedweeks. I felt like our cars were really good and I’m looking forward to getting to Atlanta.”
The Olive Branch, Miss. native took the green flag in the ninth position and quickly maneuvered his Fastenal Ford up into the third position within five laps where he remained until the first caution flag waved on lap eight. After a pit strategy call for fuel only, Stenhouse restarted on the outside of the front row.
After falling back a few positions due to typical superspeedway racing, the Fastenal Ford bullied its way to lead the pack by lap 33 where Stenhouse stayed on point for the next 11 laps. When the caution flag waved with 10 laps remaining in stage one, crew chief Brian Pattie told Stenhouse to stay out in hopes to gain valuable stage points. When the green checkered waved, the Roush Fenway Racing driver was scored in the fourth position and picked up seven valuable stage points.
Just before half way, a multi-car incident broke out at the front of the field but Stenhouse was able to maneuver his Ford through the melee suffering some nose damage as he was trying to avoid the wreck. Once the race went back green, the Fastenal Ford was overheating in the pack forcing Stenhouse to hit pit-road for an unscheduled pit-stop and causing him to lose a lap to the leaders.
With two laps remaining in the 200-lap race, another multi-car accident occured collecting Stenhouse and forcing him to settle with a 29th-place finish.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team travel to Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend for the Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500. The race will be Sunday, February 25 with coverage beginning at 2:00 p.m. (EST) on FOX.