In the first race of the 2017 NASCAR Playoffs, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drove his Fastenal Ford to a 25th-place finish after making contact early on costing him two laps to the leaders in Sunday’s Tale of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland.
“I got into the fence early on and then had a commitment line violation which put us two laps down,” Stenhouse said. “With so few cautions, we weren’t able to get back on the lead lap. It’s definitely not the race we wanted to kick off the Playoffs. We head to Loudon which is usually a decent track for us.”
After advancing to round two in qualifying on Friday afternoon, the Olive Branch, Miss. native lined up in the 15th position for the 267-lap race. Once the green flag waved, Stenhouse lost a few positions early before the handling of the Fastenal Ford would come around.
While battling a loose handling condition, the driver of the No. 17 Ford made contact with the outside wall forcing him to bring his machine to pit-road for four tires, fuel, and to pull the fenders. While coming to pit-road, Stenhouse did not get below the commitment line causing him to have to do a pass-thru due to a commitment line violation.
With stage one and two going caution free, Stenhouse was unable to get his two laps back to the leaders. After taking the wave around at the start on stage three, Stenhouse caught a lucky break when the caution waved allowing him to get one lap back.
On the final green flag pit-stop, Stenhouse was served with a speeding penalty while exiting pit-road, causing him to bring his Fastenal Ford to pit-road for a pass thru penalty. With the race staying green for the remainder of the day, Stenhouse was able to pick up two more positions in the closing laps due to fresher tires to take the checkered flag in the 25th position.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team travel to New Hampshire Motor Speedway next weekend for the New England 300. The race is set for Sunday, Sept. 24. Coverage will begin at 2 p.m. (EST) on NBCSN.