Daytona Beach, Fla.(February 9, 2008) – To race at Daytona International Speedway a driver needs both talent and luck. Roush Fenway Racing up-and-comer Ricky Stenhouse Jr. showed he had the talent but unfortunately he wasn’t so lucky. An incident during the final practice session forced Stenhouse into the backup No. 99 K&N Ford but that didn’t detour him. Stenhouse showed both patience and skill during Saturday’s race until lap 54 when he was involved in a multi-car wreck that forced him into a 25th place finish. It was a disappointing day for the 20-year old but one that provided valuable experience for the Rookie-of-the-Year candidate.
“The No. 99 K&N Ford Fusion was really good today,” said Stenhouse following the race. “I feel bad that I wrecked two race cars and I can’t thank Lumpy (crew chief Jeff Campey) and all the guys enough for working hard to get the backup ready for me to race today. I’ve learned a lot this week, especially today. I wish we could come back and do it again next week but unfortunately we have to wait until April.”
The No. 99 K&N Ford was a contender from the start as Stenhouse ran atop the speed charts during Thursday’s five hour practice session. The 61st car to qualify, Stenhouse clocked a fast lap time of 49.880 seconds placing him in the sixth starting position for Saturday’s ARCA 200 while Justin Marks captured the pole with a quick lap time of 49.632 seconds. Early on into the final practice session, the No. 7 car drifted a little too close to the No. 99 Ford disrupting the air and sending Stenhouse into the wall off turn two. This forced the No. 99 team to unload the backup car but they didn’t miss a beat.
Stenhouse fell back to the 42nd starting position for the start of Saturday’s 80-lap event and as the green flag waved over the 43-car field, Stenhouse set out to accomplish one goal, finish 80 laps. By lap two Stenhouse had hooked up with veteran ARCA driver Frank Kimmel and followed in his tracks until the first caution waved on lap six when the No. 12 spun. Stenhouse, running in 37th, reported that he could pass Kimmel but was taking the opportunity to ride and learn.
On lap eight the No. 99 pitted for fuel and emerged 38th for the re-start on lap 10. The third caution flew on lap 22 when the No. 12 car spun once again but this time right in front of Stenhouse who showed poise and determination as he drove through the smoke in one piece. Crew chief Jeff Campey called for Stenhouse to come down pit road on lap 23 for four tires and fuel and down he came. The No. 99 team performed a clean stop but a loose tire cost Stenhouse valuable time while exiting the pit stall. Stenhouse re-started 29th on lap 28 and once again began his quest to get to the front of the pack.
The “big one” unraveled on lap 30 right in front of Stenhouse. As cars crossed the track and the air filled with smoke, Stenhouse quietly made his way through the carnage emerging unscathed. A sigh of relief fell across the pit but the K&N team knew there was still a lot of racing to be done. After a 15 minute red flag, the field re-started and the green flag once again waved over the 2.5-mile superspeedway on lap 37.
Stenhouse had moved his way to sixth and began drafting with the leaders racing two and sometimes three-wide for position. By lap 49 Stenhouse had made his way into the second position where he was holding steady then on lap 54, his luck ran out. The No. 60 car cut a tire in turn four but remained on the track ultimately wrecking in turn two. As the chaos unfolded, the car below Stenhouse turned right to avoid contact shoving Stenhouse into the wall and ending his day early.
“It’s really disappointing,” said Stenhouse. “The K&N Ford was great. I could suck up to the cars in front of me pretty easy and it was handling good. I had run at the back, then went to the front and missed the middle so I thought we were okay. Everyone says that’s how Daytona is but it doesn’t make it any easier. I think we had a top-five car for sure and I’m just disappointed I didn’t make my full 80 laps.”
Stenhouse would settle for a 25th place finish in his ARCA RE/MAX Series debut while Michael Annett went on to win followed by Justin Allgaier in second and Bill Baird in third. The ARCA RE/MAX Series returns to action on April 13 at Salem Speedway in Salem, Ind.
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 and Joey Clanton; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.