In his 200th Cup start, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. passed eventual race winner Martin Truex Jr. and picked up three more positions in the final three laps to bring his No. 17 Fastenal Ford Fusion home 18th in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway.
“Overall it was decent weekend for our Fastenal Ford,” Stenhouse said. “Even though we didn’t run up front all race, this race comes to down to attrition and pit strategy. Brian (Pattie) made an excellent call resulting in my best finish here.”
The finish is a career-high for Stenhouse at Sonoma, after starting the race a career-best 18th based on Saturday’s qualifying. It marks his best finish in the Cup Series at a road course since finishing 18th at Watkins Glen during his rookie season in 2013.
With the final laps winding down in the season’s first road course, Stenhouse found himself the first car one lap down. He eventually passed Truex to get back on the lead lap, before passing Kasey Kahne, Michael McDowell and Joey Logano in the final two laps to post the 18th-place finish.
Stenhouse started the race 18th, but struggled with the handling on his Ford and dropped back as far as 30th during the first stage. He finished the stage 27th, but continued to lose ground and finished the second stage 33rd. The Fastenal team pitted for the final time with 20 laps to go and Stenhouse was able to drive his way back onto the lead lap and inside the top 20 for the career-best finish.
Stenhouse and the NASCAR Cup Series return to action next weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, where Stenhouse boasts an Xfinity Series win in 2012.
RFR PR/Photo Credit Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images