Darlington, S.C. (May 13, 2013) – In his first Sprint Cup start at the track that is known as ‘Too Tough To Tame’, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. battled back from being two laps down in the primarily green flag race to an 18th-place finish in Saturday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. The Sprint Cup rookie currently sits 16th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings, 26 points out of 10th place.
“Well I earned my Darlington stripe,” Stenhouse said. “Our Zest Ford was just too tight overall. We couldn’t turn in the corner to give us the drive off we needed. We needed one more caution to get back on the lead lap, but I am very proud of my No. 17 team because we fought all day. We will take a solid 18th-place finish here at the track known as ‘Too Tough To Tame’.”
When the green flag fell on Saturday night, the two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion consistently ran in the top-20 for a majority of the 367-lap race that only saw five caution flags totaling 25 laps. As the sun set, the No. 17 Zest Ford was too tight for Stenhouse’s liking.
When the yellow flag waved on lap 328, crew chief Scott Graves chose to stay out earning the wave around to get Stenhouse back in the group of three cars that would be one lap down to the leaders. If past trends at the Lady in Black stayed true, more cautions were to come in the final 45 laps. The Olive Branch, Miss. native was sitting in the lucky dog position, but the yellow flag never waved leaving Stenhouse to settle for an 18th-place finish when the checkered flag waved.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team race in their hometown next weekend and try to race their way into the All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 18. Coverage will begin at 7:00 p.m. (EST) on Speed.