After having to start at the rear of the field due to an unapproved adjustment, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rebounded to earn a 16th-place finish in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Chicagoland.
“We struggled with the balance this weekend,” Stenhouse said. “Overall we just lacked grip but we were able to salvage an okay finish. Right now we have to make sure we capitalize on getting as many points as we can as we are getting closer to the playoff cut-off line. Next week, we are heading back to Daytona where we ended up in victory lane last year so hopefully we can get our Ford back there again.”
After advancing to round two of qualifying on Saturday evening, the Olive Branch, Miss. native radioed in after his lap saying something was amiss with his brakes. After further review, the brake line was cut forcing Stenhouse to drop to the rear of the field at the start of the race.
Stenhouse bullied his way forward picking up 22 positions by the time he brought his Fastenal Ford to pit-road for a scheduled pit-stop. Due to a tight-handling machine, the two-time Xfinity champion took the green-checkered in the 18th position at the end of Stage 1.
At the start of Stage 2, Stenhouse took the wave around to get back on the lead lap in hopes of a quick caution. Unfortunately, the race stayed green forcing the Roush Fenway Racing driver to hit pit-road for a scheduled stop. The strategy call played out when the caution waved on lap 127 for debris scoring Stenhouse on the lead lap. After losing track position due to fixing damage on the right front under the caution, Stenhouse settled with a 21st –place finish in Stage 2.
Despite still battling a tight handling Fastenal Ford for a majority of the final stage, Stenhouse was able to persevere and gain four positions in the final 60 laps to take the checkered flag in the 16th position.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team travel to Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 where he is the defending champion. Race coverage begins at 7 p.m. EST on NBC.