In the final race to make the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Chase for the Cup, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drove his Zest Ford to a 19th place finish after being collected in multi-car accident late in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
“Our Zest Ford was good on the long runs,” Stenhouse said. “I really thought we could have gotten up inside the top-10 but we got caught in that accident late and just never could recover. We have 10 more races to go out and try to win and build for next year.”
After advancing to round two in the qualifying session on Friday, the two-time XFINITY champion started the 400-lap race in the 22nd position and gained seven positions by lap 85 when the second caution of the day was displayed.
The Zest Ford struggled on restarts but after 30 laps on the tires, Stenhouse was able to march his way up through the field and run similar lap times as the leaders.
After getting a pit-road penalty for an uncontrolled tire, the Roush Fenway Racing driver restarted in the 31st position but quickly bullied his way forward picking up 11 positions in 25 laps.
With less than 40 laps remaining, a multi-car accident occurred in front of the Zest Ford causing front end damage. After the red flag was lifted, Stenhouse brought his machine to pit-road for repair. The crew worked feverishly to repair the mangled machine over two pit stops and keeping the 2013 NSCS Rookie of the Year on the lead lap.
A late race caution sent the race into overtime. On the final green-white-checkered attempt, the Olive Branch, Miss. native lined up in the 18th position but when a car spun near the front Stenhouse checked up causing him to settle with an 19th-place finish.