Runner-Up Finish in Duel Earns Stenhouse Career-Best Starting Position in Daytona 500

After rolling off in the 10th position in his Fastenal Ford Mustang for the Gander RV Duel 1, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. scored a second-place finish earning a career-best starting position of fifth for the Daytona 500.

“That was a great start for the Mustang, finishing 1-2-3 there,” Stenhouse said. “I was just talking to Paul (Menard) and I spent the last 25 laps just trying to figure out how to time it right where I could get a run on Kevin (Harvick) and just couldn’t seem to time it. We didn’t have as many cars out here tonight as we will have come Sunday. All in all, a really strong night for us. We wanted to be in victory lane, but we learned a lot and I think we can make our Fastenal Ford better. It was handling a little bad there in the middle part of the race - a little loose. When I restarted on the bottom I felt I could be aggressive with it and that gives me confidence for Sunday.”

The Olive Branch, Miss. native started the 60-lap shootout in the 10th position but quickly worked his way inside the top five by lap 12 when all the Fords brought their Mustangs to pit-road for fuel only stops.

Once the green flag pit-stop cycled through, the two-time Xfinity champion was scored in the third position before the caution flag waved on lap 27. Despite the car being a handful, crew chief Brian Pattie chose to stay out for track position and the opportunity to work with the other Fords.

With 30 laps remaining in Duel 1, Stenhouse restarted in the third position but worked his way up to second after working with fellow Ford driver Kevin Harvick on the inside lane. The top six cars rode single file until the final lap when the No. 21 got a run but Stenhouse was able to edge him out earning a runner-up finish lining him up in the fifth position for Sunday’s Daytona 500.

The Daytona 500 will be televised on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. EST on FOX. The race can also be heard on MRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90.

RFR PR