After sustaining damage to the nose of the NOS Energy Drink Ford early on in stage two, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. battled back to earn a 19th-place finish in Monday’s rain delayed Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan Speedway.
“Our car was a handful today,” Stenhouse said. “It seemed like we were battling back all race from the pit-road penalty to the nose damage that caused us to pit multiple times. With this package, it was really hard to pass. We will go back and regroup and get ready for Sonoma.”
In Ford and Roush Industries’ back yard, the two-time Xfinity champion started the rain postponed 200-lap race in the 10th position picking up five positions in the first lap. When the competition yellow waved on lap 20 for rain overnight, Stenhouse was scored in the 22nd position due to loose handling conditions. After the pit-stop, NASCAR deemed the No. 17 team had a safety violation sending Stenhouse to the rear for the restart. When the first green checkered waved, Stenhouse had picked up nine positions despite battling a loose handling condition.
On the restart, the top lane stacked up causing Stenhouse to suffer minor nose damage to his NOS Energy Drink Ford. Luckily a caution flag waved two laps later allowing the team to repair the nose under the caution. After restarting in the 31st position, the Olive Branch, Miss. native battled his way back through the field taking the second green checkered in the 19th position.
Crew chief Brian Pattie chose to bring Stenhouse down pit-road early to allow the team more time to fix the nose after the team assessed the damage during the previous pit-stop. With the damage corrected, Stenhouse lined up in the 31st position for the final 80-lap stage.
Stenhouse was scored in the 20th positon when the caution flag was displayed on lap 196 sending the race into overtime. The 2013 NASCAR Cup Rookie of the Year lined up in the 20thposition and picked up one spot during the final two-lap shootout.
Next up for Stenhouse and the No. 17 team is Sonoma Raceway on Sunday, June 23.