With seven laps remaining in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Michigan International Speedway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. lined up in the 11th position for the final shootout but was forced to come to pit road after cutting a right rear tire resulting in a 29th- place finish.
“We blew a tire there at the end,” Stenhouse said. “We got track position and were able to stay up near the front all day but just had bad luck there at the end. We definitely didn’t get the finish we deserved. I thought this was a much better race package. Everyone was running closer which makes for better racing so I think it was really good.”
In Ford and Roush Industries back yard, the two-time XFINITY champion started the 200-lap race in the 12th position but fell back early due to a loose handling machine. Crew chief Nick Sandler called for a big adjustment when Stenhouse brought the Fifth Third Ford to pit-road for the first pit stop of the day.
The changes seemed to help the handling of the Fifth Third Ford allowing Stenhouse to march forward as the race progressed. With this race usually coming down to fuel mileage in the past, Sandler chose to stretch the fuel mileage a little before half-way catching a break when the caution was waved on lap 101. With most of the leaders already pitting under green flag conditions, the Olive Branch, Miss. native was scored third when the yellow flag was displayed.
With the gained track position, Stenhouse Jr. battled in the top-15 for most of the second half of the race. With seven laps remaining, teammate Greg Biffle, who was lined up behind Stenhouse, radioed that the right rear tire looked flat. When the green flag waved setting up the final shootout, the 2013 NSCS Rookie of the Year was battling in the top-15 before the tire gave forcing Stenhouse to pit-road.