TALLADEGA, Ala. (May 7, 2017) – After earning his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) Coors Light pole award, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. took the lead on the final lap to claim his first career MENCS victory at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday afternoon earning a spot in the playoffs.
“This is for all the guys at the shop,” Stenhouse said afterwards. “This year, every race we’re getting better and better. We knew that Talladega was a good track for us. Its been a good one in the past and I’m just glad we parked it for my buddy, Bryan Clauson. He was with us on that last lap.
“This Fifth Third Bank Ford was so fast today. We qualified on the pole and got the win. I can’t say enough about the guys. It’s cool to have Jack Roush back in Victory Lane, Ford Performance, Fastenal, Sunny D. I’m gonna have a Sunny D in the morning, maybe a little later. This is cool. The closest race track to my hometown and the fans were out here this weekend.”
The Olive Branch, Miss. native led the field to the green flag leading 13 laps before having to forfeit the lead to Brad Keselowski due to having trash on the grille which caused the water and oil temperatures to rise. After being shuffled back in typical restrictor plate racing, Stenhouse was able to work his way up into the second position when the first stage concluded picking up valuable bonus points.
Early in stage two, the two- time XFINITY champion was working the middle and high lines trying to move forward. As the laps dwindled down, the field got dicey so Stenhouse decided to back out of the draft in case a wreck occurred, ultimately taking the green checkered in the 30th position.
With 28 laps remaining in the 188-lap race, the 2013 MENCS Rookie of the Year was lined up behind the No. 2 and the No. 21 machine when the field stacked-up while passing a lap down car, causing right front damage to the nose of his Fifth Third Ford. The No. 17 team feverishly worked to repair the machine sending Stenhouse back out in the 32nd position.
After a multi-car accident forced NASCAR to throw the red flag on lap 168, Brian Pattie told Stenhouse to stay out. With a flurry of late-race cautions sending the race into overtime, the Roush Fenway Racing driver restarted on the inside of the front row for the final green-white-checkered finish. With a last lap charge by the No. 18 and the No. 1 machines, Stenhouse was able to hold them back to claim his first MENCS win.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team head to Kansas Speedway for the GoBowling 400. The race is set for Saturday, May 13. Coverage will begin at 7:30 p.m. (EST) on FS1.