TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 28, 2019) – After having to start at the rear for an unapproved adjustment, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drove his Fifth Third Bank Ford to the front leading 16 laps before blowing a tire coming to the white flag earning a 25th place finish in Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
“Our Fifth Third Ford was sporty all day,” Stenhouse said. “The No. 1 got me loose on the last restart which he was doing what he needed to do to get on the inside so that shuffled us back. It was just a bummer since we had such a great car to end up blowing a tire there at the end and not getting the finish we deserved.”
After advancing to the final round of qualifying on Saturday, the Olive Branch, Miss. native posted the sixth quickest lap in his Fifth Third Ford. Before the race, NASCAR issued a penalty to six cars for an unapproved adjustment forcing them to all start from the rear of the field. When the green flag waved, Stenhouse charged from the back on the outside lane with drafting help from the No. 19 machine picking up 22 positions by lap two.
When the first yellow flag was displayed just shy of the scheduled fuel stop, crew chief Brian Pattie brought the Fifth Third Ford to pit road for fuel only. When Stenhouse exited pit-road, Pattie told him to save as much fuel as possible as they were going to try to stretch fuel mileage to the end of stage one. The strategy worked allowing the Roush Fenway Racing driver to take the first green checkered in the eighth position gaining valuable stage points.
Despite battling a loose-handling machine, the two-time Xfinity champion worked his way into the lead position by lap 79. He held on to the point before bringing his Ford to pit road for a scheduled green flag pit-stop. After the stop, Stenhouse fell out of the top-10 still battling a loose condition causing him to take the second green checkered in the 12th position.
With less than 25 laps remaining, Stenhouse worked his way back to the point position before being shuffled back to third when the caution flag waved on lap 181. After a brief red flag, Stenhouse lined up in the third position behind fellow Ford driver Joey Logano for a four-lap shootout. The No. 1 machine, who lined up behind him on the restart, got him loose as he was making a move to the inside causing Stenhouse to lose his drafting help. As he was battling his way back forward, Stenhouse blew a tire coming to the white flag ultimately ending his day with a 25th-place finish.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team head to Dover Speedway next weekend for the Gander RV 400. The race is set for Sunday, May 5 at 2 p.m. (EST) on FS1.