After cutting a left rear tire late in Sunday’s Ford Ecoboost 400 while running in the 11th position, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. recovered to earn a 15th-place finish in the season finale of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Stenhouse finished a career high of 13th in the driver point standings.
“I’m disappointed because I thought we should’ve had a top-10 but unfortunately we hit something on the track that cut our tire,” Stenhouse said. “Our goal the past couple of weeks was to finish in the top 10, and we were close every weekend. This has been a great season for our No. 17 team and I’m definitely looking forward to carrying this momentum into the off-season and kicking off 2018 strong.”
The Fastenal Ford rolled off in the sixth position and lost a few positions on the start, but a quick caution was displayed a mere nine laps in to the 267-lap race. After choosing to stay out for track position, Stenhouse restarted in the sixth position but over time newer tires prevailed costing Stenhouse to fall to 20th before the green flag pit cycle began. With only 13 cars on the lead lap, Stenhouse took the green checkered in the 15th position to end stage one and one lap down to the leaders.
The two-time MENCS winner restarted in the 15th position for the second 80-lap stage and steadily marched his way into the free pass position despite battling a machine that lacked rear grip. The much needed caution was displayed on lap 141 allowing Stenhouse to get back on the lead lap. The Olive Branch, Miss. native lined up in the 15th position for the final 10-lap shootout gaining four positions to take the green checkered in the 11th position to end stage two.
After working his way inside the top-10 with less than 70 laps remaining, the Roush Fenway Racing driver suffered a flat left rear tire a few laps after a scheduled pit-stop forcing Stenhouse to bring his Fastenal Ford to pit-road for two left side tires.
After falling back to the 23rd position, Stenhouse worked his way back up to the 15th position and was scored once again in the lucky dog position. Unfortunately, the race stayed green forcing Stenhouse to settle with a 15th-place finish.
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