After a lengthy rain delay sent the race into the evening hours, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drove his Fastenal Racing Ford to a 12th-place finish in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Chicagoland Speedway.
“Overall it was a good day for our Fastenal Ford,” Stenhouse said. “From practice to qualifying, the team overhauled our Ford. Our car showed some speed late in the runs, and we were comparable to the top-five cars. We still need to find some speed but overall a decent weekend for our Fastenal Ford.”
On the start of the 267-lap race, the Olive Branch, Miss. native lined up in the 24th position and quickly picked up five positions before the red flag was displayed on lap 11 for lightning in the area. The massive storm caused a three-hour delay.
When the red flag was lifted, crew chief Brian Pattie brought the Fastenal Ford for tires and fuel in hopes to help the tight handling condition. With the remainder of the stage going caution free until the caution flag waved just two laps shy of the stage end, Stenhouse Jr. was scored in the 16th position still battling a tight condition.
With most of the leaders pitting during the stage break, the two-time Xfinity champion lined up in the third position for the second 80-lap stage. With the restarts causing four-wide racing, Stenhouse was shuffled back to 14th when the caution flag waved on lap 102.
After a chassis adjustment under the yellow flag condition, Stenhouse lined up in the 12th position for the restart and bullied his way inside the top 10 within 10 laps. As the lateral rear grip faded, Stenhouse fell just outside of the top 10 taking the second green-checkered flag in the 11th position.
Steadily running in the top-10 for a majority of the final stage and being one of the fastest cars late in the run, Stenhouse relinquished the lead with 45 laps remaining for a green flag scheduled pit-stop. With the race staying green, the Roush Fenway Racing driver battled back to earn a 12th-place finish.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team travel to Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 where he picked up the win in 2017. Race coverage begins at 7 p.m. EST on NBCSN.