After rebounding from a mid-race flat right front tire that sent the SunnyD Ford into the outside wall, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was poised to earn another top-15 finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before his day ended abruptly due to a hard crash resulting in a 30th-place finish.
“Early on a lug nut knocked off our valve stem causing my front tire to go down,” Stenhouse said. “We fought all race after being a lap down and were looking to have another decent finish but unfortunately we got caught in an accident with 15 laps to go. As drivers, we definitely had our hands full today with the track being so slick but it was a lot of fun.”
After barely missing round three of qualifying on Friday, the Olive Branch, Miss. native lined up in the 14th position and quickly maneuvered his SunnyD Ford inside the top 10 within the first five laps. As the stage progressed, the handling shifted to a loose condition costing Stenhouse to lose a few spots taking the green checkered at the end of the stage in the 16th position.
After a scheduled pit-stop during the stage break, the Roush Fenway Racing driver was assessed a pit-road speeding penalty forcing him to restart at the tail end of the field. Shortly after the restart, the SunnyD Ford made hard contact with outside wall after blowing a right front tire. The crew worked feverishly during multiple pit-stops to repair the damage.
When the caution flag waved on lap 148, crew chief Brian Pattie told Stenhouse to take the wave around to get back on the lead lap. At the conclusion of stage two, Stenhouse was scored in the 24th position.
With numerous cautions due to other cars having tire issues as well, the two-time Xfinity champion had worked his way back inside the top-20 by lap 200. When the green flag waved on lap 250 for the final 17 laps, Stenhouse Jr. restarted in the 13th position but as he was racing for position the SunnyD Ford got loose sending Stenhouse into the inside retaining wall. The damage was too severe to continue forcing the 2017 NASCAR Playoff contender to settle with a 30th-place finish.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team head Richmond Raceway next weekend. Race coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Coverage can also be heard on MRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90.