Newton, Iowa (April 19, 2008) – In a scene reminiscent of last week, rain and cold temperatures plagued Iowa Speedway this weekend. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. piloted the No. 99 Ford from the 33rd position into the top-10 before being hit from behind which ultimately found him eight laps down with severe damage to the rear of the car and finishing 19th. A disappointing day for the Olive Branch, Miss. native in only his third career ARCA RE/MAX Series start.
Persistent rain cancelled all on-track activities on Friday forcing ARCA to cancel Saturday’s qualifying session and replace it with what became a rain-delayed practice session. The ARCA RE/MAX Series field lined-up according to the 2007 point standings placing Stenhouse in the 33rd starting position for the 250-lap event. The No. 99 Ford was strong during the shortened practice session and looked to be a top-five car heading into the race.
The field took the green and Stenhouse immediately began his march to the front of the field. One at a time the 20-year old picked off the competition moving into the top-15 by lap 28 when the first of nine cautions flew after the No. 25 spun. This bunched the field back up giving Stenhouse a chance to continue his march to the front. He reported that the No. 99 Ford was a little tight but taking a cue from the leaders, there was no pit stop made and the field resumed under green on lap 36.
Stenhouse broke into the top-10 and was running ninth on lap 72 when the third caution flew, this time for Stenhouse. The No. 30 of Jesse Smith hit Stenhouse from behind spinning him into the outside wall and causing severe damage to the rear end of the No. 99 Ford Fusion. Stenhouse came down pit road for a series of pit stops to fix the damage going two laps down by the time the field took the green on lap 80. Stenhouse re-entered the race in 23rd looking to make as many laps as possible and gain all the experience he could.
The No. 99 Roush Fenway team and Stenhouse tried to make the best of what was now a bad day working on the car under each caution that flew. Stenhouse’s Ford would handle descent for a few laps then fall to the loose side due to the damage. Under the seventh caution, Stenhouse brought the Ford down pit road for the final time and crew chief Jeff Campey called for significant changes returning Stenhouse to the track in 21st for the re-start on lap 213 (eight laps down).
The No. 99 Ford looked to be in top-race form running lap times only slightly off the leaders but with less than 40 laps to go and eight laps down, Stenhouse could only move as high as 19th. Matt Hawkins crossed the line in first followed by Justin Allgaier and Frank Kimmel while Stenhouse crossed in 19th, eight laps down.
“Today was pretty disappointing for us,” said Stenhouse following the race. “The No. 99 Ford was pretty good in practice and at the beginning of the race. I was trying to get to the front quick but I was also trying to be cautious. I think we had at least a top-five car. It was a little tight but some adjustments would have helped that.”
When asked what happened on the track Stenhouse responded by saying, “I don’t know. I was going into three and four and got hit from behind. The back end was tore up and we went a lot of laps down. The car would handle good for a few laps then it would get really loose. On that last pit stop Lumpy (crew chief Campey) made a lot of adjustments and we were actually pretty fast. I was surprised to be passing cars that were in one piece on the track while I was missing almost the whole rear end.”
The No. 99 Roush Fenway team and Stenhouse will return to action next Friday afternoon, April 25 at Kansas Speedway. ARCA RE/MAX Series Racing starts at 4:00 p.m. CDT on Friday with the race airing on Speed, Saturday, April 26 at 8:30 p.m. EDT.
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.