After suffering right side damage to his Fifth Third Ford, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. overcame adversity to earn a 15th-place finish in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. With his 15th-place finish, Stenhouse sits in the final transfer spot of 12th with one race remaining in the Round of 16.
“I think it went as expected,” Stenhouse said. “It was a struggle for us all weekend. I told my guys I felt like we were in a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather all week. We just struggled with speed and handling all weekend. We made a lot of adjustments for today and was surprisingly a little bit better than we were in practice.
“I didn’t think we were as capable of a car to finish where we did, but we did what we needed and had some good breaks and some good pit stops and ended up gaining some points. That was our goal, so I feel really good about that. I’d say we’ve had two sub-par weeks and we’re still in this thing, so we’ll regroup and get focused and go to Dover.”
After struggling with handling for a majority of the weekend, the Olive Branch, Miss. native lined up in the 24th position for the 300-lap race. Due to battling a loose-handling machine, Stenhouse made contact with the outside wall. With stage one going caution free, Stenhouse was the last car on the lead lap taking the green-checkered in the 22nd position.
With one lap remaining in stage two, Stenhouse Jr. was able to narrowly maneuver his Ford through a multi-car accident which ended up closing out stage two and a red flag was ultimately displayed for track cleanup.
When the caution was displayed with 38 laps remaining, crew chief Brian Pattie told Stenhouse to stay out and take the wave around to get back on the lead lap. A much needed caution came on the restart allowing Stenhouse Jr. to bring his Ford to pit-road for four fresh tires and a chassis adjustment.
With another caution setting up a 13-lap shootout, the 2017 NASCAR Playoff contender was able to pick up two more positions when the checkered flag waved. With his 15th –place finish, Stenhouse currently sits in the 12th position with the top-12 advancing after next week’s race at Dover to the Round of 12 in the Playoffs.
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