After scoring his career best Sprint Cup series finish at Bristol Motor Speedway in the spring, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led the Roush Fenway Racing trio with a solid sixth-place finish in Saturday night’s IRWIN Tools Night Race.
“We didn’t start off very good but Mike (Kelley) made a lot of changes,” Stenhouse said. “Our pit crew did an awesome job on pit road and gave me some fast pit stops, and Mike (Kelley) made a good call to take the wave around to get back on the lead lap and then the caution came out quick and we were able to make our car a little bit better. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but definitely really pleased with how we finished with how the car drove, so we’ll get it better and we’ll keep working on it.
Bristol is a lot of fun. When you’re able to turn your car all over the place, I was able to run in on the top, turn and drive across the bottom and make up a lot of ground and pass some cars. That felt really good to pass some cars. It was a great night.“
At the finale of second practice on Friday, the two-time NASCAR champion was a top the speed charts. After the No. 17 machine struggled getting through qualifying NASCAR tech inspection, the two-time NASCAR Nationwide champion only had ten minutes remaining in the first 30 minute session to make his qualifying lap resulting in a 21st-place starting position.
When the caution was displayed with less than 69 laps remaining, crew chief Mike Kelley brought the Olive Branch, Mississippi native to pit-road for four fresh Goodyear tires and a chassis adjustment to set him up for the final laps. The Roush Fenway Racing driver took the final green flag in the 12th position and quickly maneuvered his Ford up to sixth-place with 25 laps remaining.
The 2013 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year was reeling in the No. 41 machine but ran out of time taking the checkered flag in the sixth position and earning his fifth top-10 finish of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team travel to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Oral-B USA 500 next weekend. The race is set for Sunday, August 31. Coverage will begin at 7:30 p.m. (EST) on ESPN.