After passing five cars in the first three laps, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. blew a right front tire on lap nine sending his Fifth Third Ford into the outside wall. As the crew worked feverishly on the mangled Ford, the team determined the damage was too significant to safely return to action forcing Stenhouse to settle with a 40th-place finish in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Kentucky Speedway.
“I really liked racing this low downforce package with the repave here at Kentucky,” Stenhouse said. “I was just caught off guard on late exit and got into the wall causing our right front tire to blow. Next week we head to Loudon where we have had strong runs so we will regroup and try to get some points back.”
Due to the repave at Kentucky Speedway, NASCAR gave the teams extra practice time on Thursday and Friday but rain shortened the practice session on Friday forcing NASCAR to cancel qualifying setting the field by owner points.
The two-time NASCAR XFINITY champion started the 267-lap race in the 21st position and quickly gained five positions in three laps before his Ford got loose on exit causing slight contact with the outside wall. Within a few laps, the contact eventually caused the right front tire to blow sending the Fifth Third Ford into the outside wall.
The team quickly radioed to Stenhouse to take his mangled Ford to the garage for repair in hopes to hastily return to the track to gain as many points as possible since the Olive Branch, Miss. native was just 17 points shy of 16th place at the start of the race.
After further review, crew chief Nick Sandler and car chief Mike Kelley were uncomfortable with the damage to send Stenhouse back out forcing him to settle with a 40th –place finish.