After making contact with the outside wall early in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Richmond International Raceway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. battled back to earn his second top-five finish of the season.
“We had to fight hard for this top five,” Stenhouse Jr said after the race. “I made a mistake early. I thought we had a car capable of running in the top five for a majority of the race. I just got loose into turn three and got into the fence. I had to play catch-up for there. I was on the splitter, and I couldn’t run my fastest lap until about lap five or six. As soon as that caution came out I was like, ‘We have to stay out. It worked out for us. Our Fifth Third Bank Ford was really fast. I want to thank the fans for coming out. It was a hot one.”
After barely missing the front row, the two-time XFINITY champion rolled off from the fourth position and maintained his top-10 position until he got loose in turn three making contact with the outside wall.
The No. 17 crew hastily worked on the mangled Fifth Third Ford under the caution forcing Stenhouse to restart in the 30th position for the final 28-lap shootout in stage 1.
Crew chief Brian Pattie brought the Fifth Third Ford down pit-road twice during the break before stage 2 to double check all the repairs for the final two stages.
The Olive Branch, Miss. native quickly maneuvered his Ford back inside the top-20 gaining 12 positons in 33 laps in stage 2. With a caution free stage, Stenhouse Jr. took the green-checkered in the 13th position ending stage 2.
With a flurry of late-race cautions, Pattie chose track position over fresh tires radioing to Stenhouse to stay out for the final 19 laps. The 2013 MENCS Rookie of the Year restarted in the second position and was able to hang on to a fourth-place finish earning his second top-five finish in the 2017 season.