Despite having to serve a pass thru penalty for being too fast on pit road, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rebounded to take the checkered flag in the 12th position in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series(NSCS) race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“We had a really good Fastenal Ford Fusion,” Stenhouse said. “I put my guys behind when I sped on pit road with only 100 to go. Nick (Sandler) made a great pit call and we took the wave around and ended up catching a caution. We fought back really hard there. I thought we were a 10-12th place car all day so to come home 12th after a mistake by me, I am really happy with that. We have to make sure we don’t make those mistakes so we have shots at top-five finishes. All-in-all I am really happy.”
After battling a tight machine in qualifying on Friday, the Olive Branch, Miss. native started the 267-lap race in the 16th position and quickly maneuvered his Fastenal Ford up to 13th place by the time the competition yellow was displayed on lap 30 for high wind gusts and rain.
Steadily running in the top-15 for a majority of the race, the two-time XFINITY champion was caught speeding as he brought his Fastenal Ford to pit road for a routine green flag pit stop. After serving his pass—thru penalty, Stenhouse was one lap down and scored in the 26th position.
When the caution flag was displayed on lap 178, crew chief Nick Sandler told Stenhouse to take the wave around to get back on the lead lap in hopes of a quick caution. Their plan worked out as another caution flag was displayed a mere 20 laps later.
After bringing his Fastenal Ford to pit-road for four fresh Goodyear tires and fuel, the 2013 NSCS Rookie of the Year lined up 20th position.
With a series of late race cautions, Stenhouse Jr. was scored in the 17th position when the final green flag waved with less than 40 laps remaining. Stenhouse Jr. bullied his way through the pack gaining five positions in the closing laps to take the checkered flag in the 12th positon.
Next up for Stenhouse and the No. 17 team is the Good Sam 500(k) at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, March 13. Race coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on FOX. Coverage can also be heard on MRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90.