Las Vegas, Nev.(March 11, 2013)- The reigning 2012 Nationwide winner at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., consistently ran in the top-10 before battling a tight machine in the latter half of the race resulting in an 18th-place finish in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400. The Sprint Cup rookie collected a bonus point for leading a lap during the 267-lap race and is currently 11th in the series standings.
“We were too tight the last half of the race,” Stenhouse said. “I kept telling them to free it up but we would get tighter and tighter. That is what gave up all of our track position. We were running in the top-10 no problem but then we were way too tight for some reason. I couldn’t go on the restarts so I lost a lot of track position. We will have to go check it out. The last 20 laps of the run I feel like we were one of the fastest cars so I don’t know if something broke or what the deal is so we will have to take a look at that and learn. It is a long season so we will figure out what is wrong for our next mile-and-a-half race.”
Friday’s qualifying session was rained out, setting the lineup by 2012 points’ standings. With Stenhouse overtaking the 2012 points of the No. 17 machine, the Olive Branch, Miss. native took the green flag in seventh position. The young driver battled with the veteran drivers for a majority of the race until his machine became ill-handling.
On the final pit-stop on lap 235, crew chief Scott Graves called the reigning two-time NASCAR Nationwide champion to pit-road for a final attempt to drastically loosen up the No. 17 Zest Ford for the closing laps. The changes helped, but still weren’t enough, leaving Stenhouse with an 18th-place finish in Vegas.
Next up for Stenhouse and the No. 17 team is the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 17. Race coverage begins at 12:30p.m.on FOX. Coverage can also be heard on PRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90.