After earning his best qualifying effort of the season, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was running in the top-15 when suddenly he blew a left rear tire sending his Ford hard into the outside wall forcing him to settle with a 33rd-place finish in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at ISM Raceway.
“It looked like we just blew a tire there,” Stenhouse said. “We were actually getting our Ford Fusion better and better throughout the race. I felt pretty competitive that last run and bummed that it ended that way. I thought we were moving forward and passing some good cars, but, all in all, it just wasn’t meant to be today and we’ll go on to Homestead.”
After earning his best qualifying position of third for the 2018 MENCS season, the two-time MENCS winner lost a few positions early on due to an ill-handling machine. With the first stage going caution free, the Olive Branch, Miss. native fell back to 15th by the time the first green-checkered flag waved.
After lining up in the 15th position for stage two, Stenhouse fell to the 20th after lacking front turn. When the caution flag waved on lap 96, crew chief Brian Pattie took the opportunity to make an adjustment on the No. 17 Ford, but the Roush Fenway Racing driver was penalized for speeding on pit-road sending him to the tail end of the field. When the green-checkered flag waved to end stage two, Stenhouse had worked his way up to the 19th position.
With less than 100 laps remaining, Stenhouse received another pit-road speeding penalty but as he was working his way up through the field and running in the top-15, his left rear tire blew sending the Ford Fusion hard into the outside wall. The damage was too severe forcing the two-time Xfinity champion to settle with a 33rd place finish at ISM Raceway.
Next up for Stenhouse and the No. 17 team is the Ford Ecoboost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday Nov. 18. Race coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. (EST) on NBC. Coverage can also be heard on MRN and NASCAR SIRIUS/XM radio channel 90.