After an early spin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rallied back to earn a 16th-place finish in Sunday afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Watkins Glen International.
“All in all it was a decent weekend,” Stenhouse said. “Practice was good but we struggled in qualifying. The first quarter of the race, we obviously had a lot of issues. We were able to bounce back though and get a decent finish.
“We had decent speed at the end of the race, so it’s something to build off for our road course program. I look forward to getting to Michigan and hopefully keep improving.”
The Olive Branch, Miss. native lined up in the 23rd position for the 90-lap race. After contact with the No. 38 machine sent the No. 17 Ford Fusion for a spin, Stenhouse Jr. got back on track without further damage but lost valuable track position. On lap 10, the two-time Xfinity Series champion radioed in that he had grass on the grille and needed to hit pit road. The crew was ready for the green flag pit stop for fuel only. With differing pit strategies playing out on the track, Stenhouse took the green checkered to end stage one in the 28th position.
With a caution-free stage two, Stenhouse Jr. steadily worked his way up through the field despite battling a loose handling machine to take the green checkered in the 21st position.
With differing fuel mileage strategies, a factor at the 2.45-mile track, crew chief Brian Pattie told Stenhouse to stay out during the stage break. For the final 50-lap shootout, Stenhouse lined up in the 12th position. With fresher tires lined up behind him, the 2017 MENCS Playoff contender lost several positions before bringing his Ford to pit road during the final caution of the race.
After restarting in the 15th position, Stenhouse Jr. lost a few positions on the restart but patiently worked his way through traffic taking the checkered flag in the 16th position; a career best finish at Watkins Glen.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team travel to Michigan International Speedway for the Consumer Energy 400. Race coverage begins Sunday, August 12 at 2:30 p.m. EST on NBCSN. Coverage can also be heard on MRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90.
RFR PR/Photo Credit Robert Laberge/Getty Images