With only four races remaining in the 2018 season, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. battled all race in his Fifth Third Ford to earn a 19th-place finish in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Martinsville Raceway.
“Martinsville has always been a tough track for me,” Stenhouse said. “We struggled with the handling today but overall Martinsville usually just comes down to being patient and completing the race which we did.”
Stenhouse began the 500-lap race from the 18th position but lost a few positions early on due to a loose handling machine. When the caution was displayed on lap 43, it gave the team an opportunity to make an adjustment on the Fifth Third Ford in hopes to help the ill-handling machine. After working his way up to the 16th position, the two-time Xfinity champion fell to 23rd by the time the first green checkered waved to end stage one due to lacking grip and older tires.
With a caution free stage two, the Olive Branch, Miss. native gained a few positions before the second green checkered waved despite battling his Fifth Third Ford that lacked overall grip.
After losing a lap to the leaders, Stenhouse was able to capitalize on the late race caution on lap 457 and take the wave around to get back on the tail end of the lead lap. With past Martinsville races having a string of late-race cautions, crew chief Brian Pattie hoped for a quick caution to pit for four fresh tires. Unfortunately, the race went green forcing Stenhouse to settle with a 19th-place finish.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team head to Texas Motor Speedway next weekend. Race coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Coverage can also be heard on PRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90.
RFR PR/Photo Credit Jerry Markland/Getty Images