After two top-10 finishes in both stages picking up valuable stage points, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. sustained damage to his Fifth Third Ford in the ‘Big One’ on lap 119. Unfortunately rain moved in forcing NASCAR to make the race official causing Stenhouse to settle with a 24th-place finish at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday afternoon.
“We were trying to work our way back to the lead and were in the top 10,” Stenhouse said. “We were in decent position, but obviously when the wreck starts on the front row it’s all about luck after that and we weren’t able to get our Fifth Third Ford through that wreck as good as we wanted. I just spent a lot of time on pit road and went a couple laps down trying to fix it, so, all in all, it was a good first two stages when we were strong and felt good, but it just didn’t work out.”
After qualifying was cancelled on Friday for weather, the two-time Xfinity champion took the green flag in the 19th position and quickly powered his way forward picking up 14 positions before all of the Ford Performance cars hit pit-road for a scheduled green flag pit-stop. On the final lap of stage one, Stenhouse jockeyed his way forward picking up four positions taking the green checkered in the second position picking up valuable stage points.
After taking four tires and fuel during the stage break, Stenhouse lined up on the outside of the front row for stage two. With the No. 22 locked on the rear bumper of the Fifth Third Ford, Stenhouse took over the lead. With the inside lane having steam, Stenhouse dropped down to block their momentum but contact was made sending the No. 17 Ford through the grass.
The Fifth Third Ford sustained minimal damage. After restarting in the 35th position, the Olive Branch, Miss. native quickly bullied his way forward picking up 28 positions in six laps. With a couple of cautions at the end of stage two, Stenhouse took the second green checkered in the eighth positon.
Stenhouse lined up in the eighth positon for the final 60 laps. Just 12 laps into the final stage, the ‘Big One’ occurred when contact was made between the top two cars. The Fifth Third Ford suffered heavy damage but the crew worked feverishly while on the five minute clock to repair the mangled machine. As the race was about to go back green, weather moved in eventually ending the race 33 laps shy forcing Stenhouse to settle with a 24th-place finish.
Next up for Stenhouse Jr. and the No. 17 team is the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on July 13. Race coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN. Coverage can also be heard on PRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90.