After having to start at the rear of the field due to an unapproved adjustment post tech, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drove his Little Hug Fruit Barrels Ford to a career best 11th-place finish in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Pocono Raceway.
“I’m really proud of my team,” Stenhouse said. “We struggled all weekend with the handling of our car so to leave Pocono with an 11th – place finish is a true testament of the strength of our team. Our focus this year is to be consistent. We definitely learned some things for next time.”
After battling a loose machine in Friday afternoon’s qualifying session, the two-time XFINITY champion was supposed to line up in the 23rd position, but an unapproved adjustment per NASCAR sent the Little Hug Fruit Barrels Ford to the rear of the field.
Stenhouse picked up 10 positions in the first 10 laps of the 160-lap race and was scored 10th by lap 18 due to differing pit strategies in stage 1. After stalling his Ford leaving the pit box, Stenhouse was forced to settle with a 25th place finish at the end of stage one.
With long green flag runs and different pit strategies, the Olive Branch, Miss. was scored in the 24th position when the final yellow flag waved. With track position being crucial, crew chief Brian Pattie called Stenhouse to pit-road for two tires picking up 15 positions on pit-road for the final 13-lap shootout.
After restarting eighth for final laps, Stenhouse maintained his top-10 position before giving up one spot in the final laps to settle with an 11th-place finish; his career best at the ‘Tricky Triangle’.