After a career best qualifying effort at the ‘World’s Fastest Half-Mile’, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rebounded from an early spin to drive his SunnyD Ford to a fourth-place finish in the rain postponed race at Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) on Monday afternoon.
“The guys brought me a great SunnyD Ford all weekend long,” Stenhouse said. “We were really strong, and I felt confident coming into the race yesterday and today. We fought adversity. We lost track position multiple times and had to pass many cars to get back to where we were.
“Brian made a great call coming down pit road and taking tires before that long green flag run that we had. We got into second and I was hoping it would just go green to the end, knowing that we had better tires than the 42, who was the class of the field all day. Overall it was a great weekend for us. Hopefully, this will kind of get us going and kick start us into next week and the rest of the season.”
After earning his career best starting position at BMS, the Olive Branch, Miss. native lined up in the fourth position for the 500-lap race. When the first yellow was displayed for a multi-car accident on lap four, Stenhouse Jr. was scored in the second position.
While jockeying for position running in the fourth position, contact was made from behind sending the Sunny D machine for a spin. With no damage, Stenhouse restarted in the 30th position and was able to work his way back inside the top 10 by the end of stage one picking up valuable stage points.
During the stage break caution, NASCAR deemed the team had an uncontrolled tire forcing Stenhouse to have to restart at the tail end of the field for the start of stage two. While patiently maneuvering his SunnyD Ford through the field, Stenhouse was scored in the fifth position when mother nature postponed the race to Monday with only 45 laps remaining in stage two.
With a huge temperature change from Sunday to Monday, the two-time Xfinity champion hit pit-road for four fresh tires for the final 33-lap shootout of stage two. After restarting in the seventh position, Stenhouse was able to pick up a position before the green-checkered flag waved earning additional stage points.
The No. 17 team pitted three times under the stage break to fix cosmetic damage that the SunnyD Ford suffered on the last restart. After having to start in the 22nd position for stage three, Stenhouse was working his way through lapped traffic but lost a lap to the leaders before a much needed caution allowed him to get the free pass.
With 100 laps remaining and fresher tires, the Roush Fenway Racing driver was reeling in the leaders and worked his way into the second position before a caution flag was displayed. Stenhouse restarted in the fourth position and after a great restart was on Kyle Larson’s bumper battling for the lead, but a tight handling condition kept him from completing the pass forcing him to settle with a fourth-place finish.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team travel to Richmond International Raceway for the MENCS race on Saturday, April 21. Race coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on FOX. Coverage can also be heard on MRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90.