Returning to the site of his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) victory, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. overcame adversity to drive his Fifth Third Bank Ford to an solid top-five finish in Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.
“I just wasn’t sure what to do there,” Stenhouse said. “I knew the No. 9 was going to try to get by us, and we were all trying to get the win there. The No. 22 was in a great position. When we got two-wide behind him it didn’t slow him down much.
“It was a lot of fun out there today. I made a few mistakes on pit road but luckily we caught some cautions to keep us on the lead lap. The cars were super tough to drive. They were sliding around everywhere which was a lot of fun. All in all it was a fun weekend and I appreciate all the fans coming out.”
The Olive Branch, Miss. native lined up in the fifth position for the 188-lap race but fell back early on as he checked up slightly when a car got to his inside. On lap 12, all the Ford Performance cars pitted together for a planned fuel only stop. As stage one progressed and green flag pit-stops cycled through, Stenhouse was scored in the eighth position when the green checkered waved earning valuable stage points.
With four fresh Goodyear tires to start stage two, the 2013 MENCS Rookie of the Year restarted in the ninth position but in typical plate racing lost a few positions by the next scheduled fuel only stop by the Ford Performance cars. As he was coming to pit road, Stenhouse received a speeding penalty forcing him to serve a pass-thru penalty. Luckily, a much needed caution waved on lap 70 allowing the two-time Xfinity champion to take the wave around.
After restarting in the 23rd position for the final 32 laps in stage two, Stenhouse patiently maneuvered his Fifth Third Bank Ford through the pack earning a fifth-place finish in stage two once again collecting stage points.
When the final green flag waved setting up a 17-lap shootout, Stenhouse worked with fellow Ford teammates and was running in the fourth position coming to the checkered flag when the top five fanned out four-wide forcing Stenhouse to settle with a fifth-place finish at his home track.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team head to Dover Speedway for the AAA 400. The race is set for Sunday, May 6 at 2 p.m. (EST) on FS1.
RFR PR/Photo Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images