With a flurry of late-race cautions, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. gained eight positions in the final 10 laps of Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race to earn a 14th-place finish in his Little Hug Fruit Barrels Ford.
”Overall it was a tough weekend,” Stenhouse said. “We really struggled with the balance of the car throughout the weekend. We were loose during practice but tight during the race. With some great calls by Brian (Pattie), we were able to manage a better finish than we ran. We will go back to the shop and work on our cars for when we come back.”
The two-time Xfinity champion rolled off in the 23rd position for the 160-lap race at the ‘Tricky Triangle’. With most of the leaders completing their green flag pit-stops early in the 50-lap stage, Stenhouse was scored in the fourth position before bringing his Ford to pit-road for four tires and fuel. Due to a tight handling machine, Stenhouse lost a few positions finishing the stage in the 26thposition.
With another caution free stage, Stenhouse once again battled a tight machine but was able to pick up a couple of spots at the end of the Stage 2 to take the green checkered in the 22nd position.
After staying out at the end of Stage 2 and taking the wave around to get back on the lead lap, the Olive Branch, Miss. native was forced to pit-road as he was running out of fuel resulting in a pass-thru penalty due to the pits being closed due to the restart.
Luckily, a much-needed caution was displayed 15 laps later allowing Stenhouse to take the wave around to get back on the lead lap.
When the caution flag waved on lap 146, the Roush Fenway Racing driver brought his Ford to pit-road for four tires and a splash of fuel. Newer tires prevailed allowing Stenhouse to gain eight positions in the final 10 laps to earn a 14th-place finish.
Next up for Stenhouse Jr. and the No. 17 team is Michigan International Speedway on June 10. Race coverage begins at 2 p.m. on Fox. Coverage can also be heard on MRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90.
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