While running in the top 12 with less than a 125 laps remaining in Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Richmond Raceway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was penalized for a commitment line violation during green flag pit stops ultimately ending his night forcing him to settle with a 23rd- place finish.
“It was a struggle that first run due to being on the tires we qualified on,” Stenhouse Jr. said. “Brian (Pattie) made a really good call during that first stage to keep us on the lead lap. I thought that would keep our race going but then we made that mistake on pit-road with the commitment line violation which really killed our night. I thought our Fifth Third Bank Ford was decent but definitely not our best showing here. Overall we learned some things for next time.”
After advancing to the final round of qualifying, the two-time Xfinity champion lined up in the 12th position but lost a few positions early in the run because of having more laps on his tires due to qualifying. After a strategy call to short pit, Stenhouse Jr. worked his way back up to the 13th position by the first green-checkered flag waved at the end of stage one.
With a caution free stage two, the Olive Branch, Miss. native lost a few positions during the run due to a lack of grip in his Fifth Third Bank Ford to earn a 16th-place finish in stage two.
After a chassis adjustment during the stage break, the Fifth Third Bank Ford found some speed and Stenhouse Jr. was the fastest car on the track maneuvering his way through the field.
With under a 100 laps remaining, his machine suddenly got tight causing Stenhouse to get into the outside wall leading to slight damage to his machine. Under a scheduled green flag pit-stop, the team feverishly worked to pull the fenders during the four tire stop. As he was exiting pit-road and merging into traffic, contact was made with the No. 12 machine causing Stenhouse to spin as well.
With a flurry of late race cautions, Stenhouse took the wave around to get back on the lead lap. As he was battling for position with six laps remaining, the Roush Fenway Racing driver got into the fence once again ultimately ending his day forcing him to settle with a 23rd-place finish.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team return to action next Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway where he scored his first MENCS win last season. Race coverage starts at 2:00 pm EST on FOX.