Long Pond, Penn. (August 2, 2008) – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing ARCA RE/MAX Series team re-visited Pocono Raceway with the intent to repeat their June win. Instead they were riddled in adversity. Stenhouse went from back to front then came from one lap down only to cross paths with Dominick Casola just six laps from the end of the race. The encounter ended Stenhouse’s day and sent him to third in the overall point standings.
The No. 99 team entered the 13th race of the season leading the point standings and looked to be one of the contenders during practice. Stenhouse put the No. 99 Ford in the seventh starting position with a lap time of 54.695 seconds while Scott Speed claimed another pole with a fast lap time of 54.286 seconds.
Speed brought the 43-car field to the green flag and immediately jumped into the lead as they entered turn one. Stenhouse drove past veteran Frank Kimmel for seventh into turn one and set his sights on sixth. By lap eight Stenhouse entered the top-five and six laps later the first caution flew. Stenhouse reported that the No. 99 Ford was pretty good overall so crew chief Jeff Campey planned only minor adjustments for the team’s first pit stop.
Stenhouse came down pit road on lap 18 taking on four tires, fuel and a track bar and air pressure adjustment. While the No. 10 stayed on track the No. 99 and No. 29 teams battled it out on pit road. The No. 99 team sent Stenhouse back onto the track in third while the No. 29 team barely edged them out with a pit crew staffed by NASCAR Sprint Cup regulars.
The field went green on lap 24 and as they dove into turn one, the No. 10 car ran into the No. 99 bringing out caution number two. At first glance the right front damage appeared to be minor but as the field went green, the damage turned out to be the first obstacle for the Mississippi-native and his team. The car tightened up and Stenhouse dropped from second to ninth in one lap. The third caution flew on lap 29 and Stenhouse entered pit road solo for repairs.
The green flag waved again on lap 34 with Stenhouse in 26th eyeing the front of the field. With Justin Allgaier at the head of the class, Stenhouse methodically worked his way through traffic breaking into the top-20 by lap 37. Just as the team’s hopes were rejuvenated Stenhouse came across the radio to report a flat left front tire under green flag conditions. The No. 99 Ford reappeared on pit road with a shredded left front tire and returned to the track in 29th, one lap down.
They say you can take the dog out of the fight but not the fight out of the dog and that saying holds true for Stenhouse. With his elbows up, Stenhouse fought his way back onto the lead lap at marker number 67. Once again he charged through the field looking to break back into the top 10 but that was not meant to be.
After one lap the No. 25 and No. 44 tangled sending Kimmel into the wall with a ferocious impact (he was deemed okay later). The accident brought out the red flag and after about 15 minutes, the cars re-fired and it was back to racing. The No. 16, No. 9 and No. 2 battled up front for the lead and the No. 99 tried to maintain the points lead fighting for every position he could gain.
On lap 73 Stenhouse, running 13th, went low to pass Casola when Casola drove across the front of the No. 99 Ford causing severe damage and ultimately spinning Stenhouse into the wet grass where he would get stuck. Allgaier took home the win while Stenhouse finished 30th dropping him two positions in the points to third. A tough day for the Roush Fenway up-and-comer who had led the point standings since the first Kentucky race in May.
“Today was bad day,” said Stenhouse following the race. “We had a good race car and they were coming back to us there at the beginning. The No. 10 got into us there early on so we had to come fix that and as soon as we started to dig out of that hole, we blew a tire. We came back from that then I made contact with the No. 32 and we were done.”
When asked about the altercation with Casola, Stenhouse stated, “I don’t think it was any one person’s fault. It was one of those racing things. I thought he (Casola) knew I was there on the inside of him but I guess he didn’t. It’s disappointing but we have to keep looking ahead and start planning for Nashville next week.”
Stenhouse dropped to third in the points, 110 out of first place (Scott Speed) and just 15 out of second place (Matt Carter). The ARCA RE/MAX Series returns to action next Saturday at Nashville Superspeedway. Race action will be carried live on Speed.
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.