After a flurry of late-race cautions, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drove his SunnyD Ford to an 11th-place finish in Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Kansas Speedway.
“We struggled a little this weekend. Overall, we were probably an 18th- place car. It seemed like our car was numb to most of the changes we made. In the end, it ended up being a good points day for us with the all the cautions late in the race. We will keep digging and go back to the shop and keep making our Fords better.”
After barely missing the final round of qualifying on Friday, the Olive Branch, Mississippi, native rolled off in the 16th position but lost a few positions early on due to an ill-handling machine that lacked overall grip.
When the competition yellow was displayed on lap 30 due to rain overnight, the two-time Xfinity champion was scored in the 22nd position. Crew Chief Brian Pattie called Stenhouse to pit-road for four tires and a chassis adjustment. The adjustments seemed to help the handling of the SunnyD Ford allowing the Roush Fenway Racing driver to pick up four positions scoring an 18th-place finish in stage one.
Stenhouse Jr. restarted the second stage in the 16th position but lost a few positions during the caution-free stage due to a tight handling condition. When the green-checkered flag waved at the end of the stage, the 2017 MENCS Playoff contender was scored in the 18th position.
As green flag pit-stops began to cycle through in stage three, Pattie chose to long pit keeping Stenhouse out as long as he could in hopes that the SunnyD Ford would have fresher tires if the race stayed green. The strategy call paid off allowing Stenhouse to lead ten laps.
Shortly after taking the wave around to get back on the lead lap with 31 laps remaining, the caution waved allowing Stenhouse to pit for four fresh tires and splash of fuel. The SunnyD Ford lined up in the 13th position for the final 25-lap shootout. On the restart, Stenhouse was able to slide thru as a multi-car accident occurred ahead of him.
After the red flag was lifted, Stenhouse lined up in the 10th position for the final nine laps but lost one spot forcing him to settle with an 11th-place finish.