In the season finale of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) season at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drove his Fastenal Ford to a 16th- place finish despite battling an ill-handling machine. In 2018, Stenhouse scored three top-five and five top-10 finishes.
“We just struggled today during the race,” Stenhouse said. “Overall the weekend was a positive for our No. 17 team. We qualified in the top-10 and felt good about our car in race trim but just struggled once the sun went down. Overall this has been a great season for our team, and we know what we need to work on to be competitive for 2019.”
After qualifying in the top-10 two consecutive weeks, the Olive Branch, Miss. native rolled off in the ninth position where he steadily ran in the top-15 despite battling an ill-handling machine. With a caution free stage one, Stenhouse took the green-checkered flag in the 15th position.
After restarting in the 13th position for the second 80-lap stage, the two-time Xfinity champion worked his way up to the 12th position when the caution flag waved on lap 139. During the caution, crew chief Brian Pattie elected to bring the Fastenal Ford to pit-road for four tires, fuel, and a chassis adjustment in hopes to help with front turn. Stenhouse lined up in the 12th position for the 16-lap shootout to the end of the stage but fell to 16th by the time the green checkered waved due to lacking overall grip.
After the team made multiple changes to the Fastenal Ford as the race went from day to night, Stenhouse continued to battle an ill-handling machine forcing him to settle with a 16th-place finish in the season finale.