In the final race before the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) playoffs, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drove his Fastenal Ford to a 19th-place finish. With his two wins in the 2017 MENCS regular season, Stenhouse earns his first playoff berth.
“We had high hopes coming into today after a strong run in the spring,” Stenhouse said. “We practiced and qualified well just missed it for the race. It was a bummer of a night, but we’ll take it and forget about it because next week is a totally different week and a different race track. We are looking forward to the playoffs.”
After advancing to round three in the qualifying session on Friday, the two-time XFINITY champion started the 400-lap race in the eighth position but lost a few spots early on due to an ill-handling race car.
When the caution flag waved with only 13 laps remaining in stage one, crew chief Brian Pattie made a strategy call to stay out to save a set of Goodyear tires. Fresher tires prevailed on the restart forcing Stenhouse to take the green checkered in the 24th position.
With stage two going caution free, the Olive Branch, Miss. native lost a lap to the leaders but earned the lucky dog position when the green checkered waved ending stage two.
After having to start at the tail end of the field to start stage three due to being the lucky dog, Stenhouse Jr. maneuvered his Ford through the field and caught the other lead lap cars in twenty laps.
After a late race caution sent the race into over-time, the Roush Fenway Racing driver took the wave around to get on the tail end of the lead lap. Stenhouse gained one position taking the checkered flag in the 19th position.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team return to action next Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway for the Tale of the Turtles 400. Race coverage starts at 3 pm EST on NBCSN.