With the race going green for a majority of Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Richmond Raceway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. overcame handling issues to earn a 16th-place finish in his Fifth Third Bank Ford.
“We tried all kinds of adjustments but unfortunately they didn’t help my Fifth Third Ford,” Stenhouse said. “Our teammate had a strong run so we will look at his notes and see what we can improve on. We have an off weekend coming up so we can regroup and get ready for Talladega.”
With the new five-minute qualifying sessions, Stenhouse was forced to settle with a 16th place qualifying position on Friday evening. Due to the impound rules and five cars failing pre-race inspection, the Olive Branch, Mississippi, native rolled off in the 11th position for the 400-lap race.
Stenhouse quickly maneuvered his Ford inside the top-10 but fell back to 11th due to a tight handling condition right before the competition yellow was displayed on lap 40 for rain overnight. After a lengthy pit-stop due to multiple changes, the Roush Fenway Racing driver restarted in the 14th position. As the remainder of stage one went green, Stenhouse took the first green checkered in 16th due to an ill-handling machine.
When the caution flag waved on lap 127, crew chief Brian Pattie chose to pit to make a lengthy pit-stop for multiple adjustments dropping Stenhouse to restart 22nd for the remainder of stage two. With track position and clean air being so important, the two-time Xfinity champion struggled getting through traffic taking the second green checkered flag in the 22nd position.
With less than a 100 laps remaining, the No. 17 team had a speedy pit-stop gaining Stenhouse three positions on pit-road. With the remainder of the race staying green, Stenhouse was able to maintain his position taking the checkered flag in the 16th position.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team have a weekend off before returning to action at Talladega Superspeedway on April 28th. Race coverage starts at 2:00 pm EST on FOX.