DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 17, 2019) – After leading a total of 16 laps and finishing fifth in stage two, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. overcame adversity to earn a 13th-place finish in his Fastenal Ford Mustang in Sunday’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
“It’s a bummer,” Stenhouse said, “Our Fastenal Ford was really strong all day. It all started going downhill after the incident on pit-road but overall it was a decent weekend for us in the big picture as far as points. I’m proud of our team and organization on the cars we brought down here for speedweeks. It just wasn’t meant to be.”
After earning a career best fifth-place starting position for the prestigious Daytona 500, the Olive Branch, Miss. quickly muscled his Ford into the point position where he maintained until a scheduled green flag stop for fuel only.
After an untimely caution came out four laps later, crew chief Brian Pattie chose to stay out allowing Stenhouse to reclaim the lead for the restart. In typical plate racing, Stenhouse got shuffled back to 12th by the time the first green checkered flag waved.
During the stage break, the team took the time to make an adjustment on the loose-handling Fastenal Ford. When the green flag waved at the start of stage two, the two-time Xfinity champion lined up in the 24th position and quickly marched his way forward working his way up to 15th by the time the yellow flag was displayed on lap 106. When the green flag waved for a nine lap shootout to the end of stage two, Stenhouse restarted in the 17th position but bullied his way forward gaining valuable stage points with his fifth-place finish in stage two.
On lap 159, Stenhouse relinquished second place for a scheduled green flag pit-stop, but as he was making his approach to pit-road multiple cars tangled sending the 17 Ford for a spin. NASCAR assessed the team with penalty for pitting to soon forcing Stenhouse to the tail end of the field for the restart on lap 167.
With 10 laps remaining in the 200-lap race, the ‘Big One’ occurred but Stenhouse was able to weave through with minimal damage to his Ford. Once the red flag was lifted, Pattie brought Stenhouse to pit-road for four tires and fuel but was hit with another penalty sending him to the rear of the field once again.
After restarting 15th with six laps remaining, Stenhouse was caught in an accident resulting in significant damage to the Fastenal Ford. After a series of late-race cautions, Stenhouse was able to limp his Ford home to a 13th-place finish.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team travel to Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend for the Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500. The race will be Sunday, February 24 with coverage beginning at 2 p.m. (EST) on FOX.