After a dominating performance picking up two stage wins, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was forced to settle with a 17th-place finish after leading 51 laps in Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
“We definitely brought what I feel like was the best car in the field,” Stenhouse said. “Winning two stages was nice but obviously we wanted to win at the end because that would get us into the playoffs. I was frustrated with myself causing crashes like that. It was definitely a bummer of a night.”
The two-time XFINITY champion took the green flag for the 160-lap race in the sixth position and quickly maneuvered his Fifth Third Ford into the lead taking the stage one win.
After a flurry of cautions at the start of stage two, the Olive Branch, Miss. native suffered some right front fender damage to his Fifth Third Ford when contact was made with the No. 18 machine. The damage proved to be insignificant as he once again was able to lead the field to the green-checkered flag ending stage two.
After forfeiting the lead for a scheduled green flag pit-stop on lap 122, Stenhouse Jr. was returning to the track when the No. 42 spun in front of him causing significant damage to the Fifth Third Ford. The crew worked feverishly to repair the damage.
After restarting in the 20th position for the final 32 laps, the Roush Fenway Racing driver quickly maneuvered his Ford up inside the top-15 before the next caution flag waved.
With 11 laps remaining in the 160-lap race, Stenhouse Jr. blew a tire forcing him to hit pit-road. After a handful of cautions late in the race that sent the race into over-time, the 2017 Coke Zero 400 Champion was able to salvage a 17th-place finish as he limped across the finish line with another blown tire.
Next up for Stenhouse Jr. and the No. 17 team is the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on July 14. Race coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN. Coverage can also be heard on PRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90.
RFR PR/Photo Credit Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images