After leading a season-high 21 laps, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was battling in the top 10 during the final green white checkered finish before contact was made as a car got loose forcing Stenhouse to settle with a 12th-place finish in Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Kentucky Speedway.
“Our Fifth Third Bank Ford showed speed all night,” Stenhouse said. “It was good to be able to lead laps and get some stage points in the backyard of Fifth Third Bank. All in all it was a good day for our No. 17 team.”
The Olive Branch, Miss. native started the 267-lap race in the 16th position and steadily marched his way forward picking up seven positions by the time the caution flag waved on lap 62. With only 13 laps remaining in stage one, Stenhouse was able to capitalize, despite battling a tight handling machine picking up two more positions taking the green checkered in the seventh position picking up valuable stage points.
During the stage break, crew chief Brian Pattie chose to stay out under the caution giving the point position to the Fifth Third Bank Ford. Choosing the outside lane, Stenhouse powered around the No. 14 leading the field for 21 laps before newer tires prevailed. With differing pit strategies, Stenhouse took the second green checkered in the 12th position.
After pitting for four tires and fuel during the final stage break, the two-time Xfinity champion lined up in the 13th position and quickly maneuvered his Ford inside the top 10 within 10 laps. With some cars going long on fuel mileage and different strategies, Stenhouse found himself in the 14th position when the final caution flag was displayed sending the race into overtime.
After pitting for four tires for the final shootout, Stenhouse lined up in the 12th position and was marching his way forward in the outside lane when the No.12 got loose, stalling Stenhouse’s progression forcing him to settle with a 12th-place finish.
Next up for Stenhouse and the No. 17 team is New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 21. Race coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Coverage can also be heard on PRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90.