After leading 11 laps in Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Kansas Speedway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drove his SunnyD Ford to an 11th-place finish after the race was sent into overtime.
“My guys gave me a really good car,” Stenhouse said. “Yesterday we struggled with the balance and I think they changed everything on our SunnyD Ford before qualifying. After our last couple of weeks, it was good to run up front, lead laps, and contend for the win.”
After posting the 21st fastest lap on Friday evening, the Olive Branch, Miss. native lined up 14th for the 267-lap race after seven cars of the top-20 failed post-qualifying tech. Stenhouse quickly worked his way inside the top-10 and was scored in the seventh position when the competition yellow waved on lap 30 for rain overnight. Despite battling a loose handling machine, Stenhouse ended stage one in the third position gaining seven valuable stage points.
With a caution free stage two, the two-time Xfinity champion steadily ran in the top-10 for the 80-lap stage. Crew chief Brian Pattie chose to long pit allowing Stenhouse to be on point before relinquishing the lead for a scheduled two-tire stop. The gamble paid off allowing Stenhouse to take the second green-checkered in the fifth position and once again picking up valuable stage points.
For the final stage, the Roush Fenway Racing driver lined up in the sixth position and quickly maneuvered his SunnyD Ford up to the second position within 15 laps. When the yellow flag waved on lap 217, Pattie called him to pit-road for four tires, fuel, and a chassis adjustment in hopes to help the loose handling condition.
After the caution flag waved on lap 240, Stenhouse lined up in the third position for the final 27 lap shootout. With the restarts being dicey, Stenhouse dove to the bottom taking the lead with 19 laps remaining. While racing for position, Stenhouse made slight contact with the outside wall costing him a few positions.
When the final caution flag waved on lap 263 sending the race into overtime, Pattie called Stenhouse to pit-road for four tires, fuel, and to clear the fenders for the final shootout. Stenhouse lined up in the 13th position for the final restart and was able to pick up two positions in the final two laps to take the checkered flag in the 11th position.