After leading four times totaling 17 laps, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drove his Fifth Third Ford to his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) win in Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
“Wow, these guys built a Fifth Third Ford that was really fast,” said Stenhouse. “We won the ‘Firecracker 400!’ This is awesome! I have been coming here since 2008. I actually came in 2006 one time with Bobby Hamilton Jr. and it is cool to put it in victory lane and get our second win this year. I love it! Thank you to the fans for coming out here. Everyone at NASCAR. What a great weekend. America. 1776. We are the champs!”
The two-time XFINITY champion took the green flag for the 160-lap race in the sixth position. With a flurry of cautions in stage one, Stenhouse dropped out of the main pack as the laps dwindled down due to the field getting dicey.
On the final pit stop, an issue with the right rear tire cost Stenhouse a few positions on pit-road. After restarting in the 20th position, the Olive Branch, Miss. native patiently maneuvered his Ford through the pack regaining the lead within 28 laps.
On lap 153, Stenhouse was lined up in the high line when the No. 42 came up slightly causing left front damage to the Fifth Third Ford. After looking at the damage under caution laps, crew chief Brian Pattie radioed to Stenhouse that he had slight damage near the left front headlight but there was no damage to the wheel opening so stay out for the overtime.
Stenhouse Jr. lined up in the third position when the final green flag waved quickly taking over the lead with two laps remaining and never looking back en route to his second victory of the 2017 MENCS season.
“This validates what we did at Talladega,” added Stenhouse. “We have been working hard at Roush Fenway and this pushes us further along. Fifth Third, Fastenal, Sunny D, Little Hug Fruit Barrels, GoBowling.com. This Ford Performance team has been amazing. Ford has been dominant. Roush Yates Engines and Doug Yates. I told him to bring his daughter in here because she is my biggest fan and I told her I would meet her in victory lane. I had a 4th of July party planned but it just got a little bit bigger.”