Talladega, Ala. (October 4, 2008) – The No. 99 Aflac team entered the Talladega race 65 points out of first looking to gain ground on leader Scott Speed. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. made a solid third-place qualifying run but a mid-race incident sent the No. 99 Aflac Ford flying through the air. The Aflac team worked feverishly to return Stenhouse, Jr. to competition but not before going 17 laps down and ultimately finishing 28th.
Stenhouse, Jr. celebrated his 21st birthday on Thursday by placing the Aflac Ford in the third starting position for Friday afternoon’s race. He also gained five points in the championship point’s battle narrowing the margin to 60 heading into the 94-lap race. Rookie James Buescher took his first career pole with a fast lap time of 51.493 seconds.
The 43-car field roared down the front stretch towards the green for the start of the race and cars immediately fell into a single file formation. Stenhouse, Jr. settled into second behind Tom Hessert with Speed falling into third. The first caution flew on lap 11 when the No. 25 blew a tire collecting several cars behind him. The track was littered with debris which took officials 12 laps to clean up.
The field resumed green flag conditions on lap 24 and just five short laps later the second caution flew. Crew chief Jeff Campey called for Stenhouse, Jr. to come down pit road for a fuel only stop on lap 31. Stenhouse, Jr. was the first car off pit road but several cars remained on track placing Stenhouse, Jr. in eighth for the restart on lap 39.
Stenhouse, Jr. went three-wide on the top side in an effort to get back to the front but instead was shuffled back to 16th by lap 47. The third caution waved on lap 50 and Stenhouse, Jr. called upon his mentor Tony Stewart for restart advice. As cars cycled onto pit road, Stenhouse, Jr. cycled to second-place and was looking for a way past the first-place car of the No. 72. Stewart, perched in the No. 99 pit, coached the Olive Branch, Miss.-native but when the green flag waved on lap 57, the cars behind Stenhouse, Jr. didn’t follow him to the front.
Stenhouse, Jr. was shuffled like a deck of cards back to seventh and a few short laps later disaster struck. Coming off turn two, the No. 99 Ford cut a right rear tire and was hit from behind by the No. 20 car sending the No. 99 airborne just shy of a full flip. The Ford landed back on four wheels and Stenhouse, Jr. emerged unscathed but disappointed. After a quick check up at the infield care center, Stenhouse, Jr. was awaiting an interview with Speed Channel just outside the garage when an on-track incident damaged the No. 2 car. Stenhouse, Jr. was immediately called back to the No. 99 car while the Aflac team worked diligently to make repairs. Even Stewart jumped in to help the team who had the sawzaw’s blazing and the bear bond flying.
Seventeen laps later, Stenhouse, Jr. returned to the track with a wounded car but was gaining laps on Speed who remained on pit road for repairs. The No. 99 Ford returned to pit road for a series of pit stops to continue repairs but Speed returned to the track running just two positions in front of Stenhouse, Jr. The checkered flag waved over the 2.66-mile superspeedway and Stenhouse, Jr. crossed the line in 28th, 17 laps down, while Speed crossed 23rd. Allgaier took home the win followed by Joey Logano and Bobby Gerhart.
Following the race a disappointed Stenhouse, Jr. said, “The Aflac Ford was really good today.” He continued, “The car felt good all day then we cut a right rear tire and our day went down hill quick. I can’t thank my team enough for all their hard work getting that Aflac Ford back on the track and getting us a few extra points. And thanks to Tony (Stewart) for helping me and the team today too, that was pretty cool. It’s just too bad that we couldn’t have had a better day today especially with the No. 2 team having problems. I think we’re like 85 points behind which is still doable but we need to be perfect next week at Toledo.”
Stenhouse, Jr. fell to 85 points behind Speed while Allgaier gained the most coming within 20 points of Stenhouse, Jr. in third. The ARCA RE/MAX Series returns to action next Sunday for the final race of the 2008 season in what is shaping up to be a battle to the death for the championship. Race coverage begins live on Speed at 1:00 p.m. EDT.
For more than 50 years, Aflac products have given policyholders the opportunity to direct cash where it is needed most when a life-interrupting medical event causes financial challenges. Aflac is the number one provider of guaranteed-renewable insurance in the United States and the number one insurance company in terms of individual insurance policies in force in Japan. Our insurance products provide protection to more than 40 million people worldwide. Aflac has been included in Fortune magazine's listing of America's Most Admired Companies for seven years and in Fortune magazine's list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for ten consecutive years. Aflac has also been recognized three times by both Fortune magazine's listing of the Top 50 Employers for Minorities and Working Mother magazine's listing of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac, visit www.aflac.com.
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR’s largest team operating 13 motorsports teams. Five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with drivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; four in the Nationwide Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, McMurray, Ragan, Erik Darnell and Colin Braun; and three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun, Travis Kvapil, Bobby East and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.