After a rain delayed start to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race on Sunday afternoon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. solidly ran in the top-15 for a majority of the race before cutting a right-front tire that ultimately forced him to settle with a 30th-place finish.
“Our Fastenal Ford was really good today,” Stenhouse said. “It was really unfortunate that we blew that right front tire because I think we would have had a decent finish in our Fastenal Ford. We need to have six solid weeks if we want to make the Playoffs.”
After lacking grip in qualifying on Friday afternoon, the Olive Branch, Miss. native lined up in the 23rd position for the 301-lap race and quickly picked up four positions before the first yellow flag was displayed on lap 14. With a competition yellow scheduled for lap 35, crew chief Brian Pattie brought the Fastenal Ford down to pit-road for four tires in hopes to stay out once the competition yellow was displayed.
After staying out during the competition yellow, the two-time Xfinity champion led the field to green where he stayed on point for 11 laps before relinquishing the lead to cars with fresher tires. Coming to the stage one conclusion, Stenhouse was passed by the No.10 machine and lost a valuable stage point settling for 11th place.
With a caution free stage two, the 2017 Playoff contender consistently ran in the top-15 despite battling a machine that lacked turn through the corner forcing him to take the green checkered on lap 150 in the 14th position.
With 75 laps remaining in the 301-lap race, Stenhouse Jr. was forced to bring his Fastenal Ford to pit-road under green flag conditions due to blowing a right front tire. With the race staying green while the crew worked feverishly on the damage, Stenhouse was scored three laps down and in the 32nd position when he returned to the track.
With another caution late in the race, Stenhouse was able to pick up two positions taking the checkered flag in the 30th position.
Next up for Stenhouse and the No. 17 team is Pocono Raceway. The Gander Outdoors 400 is scheduled for Sunday July 29, 2018 at 2:30 p.m. EST on NBCSN. Race coverage can also be heard on MRN and SIRIUS XM Channel 90.
RFR PR/Photo Credit Robert Laberge/Getty Images