Lebanon, Tenn. (August 9, 2008) – Over 100 members of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s family and friends looked on as the Olive Branch, Miss.-native attempted to close the gap on the ARCA RE/MAX Series points at Nashville Superspeedway. The No. 99 Ford was superb in race trim but qualifying was a bit of a challenge. Stenhouse started 13th and marched his way to fourth but two late race restarts cost him valuable positions and he drove home seventh. His 10th top-10 finish of the 2008 season.
During Friday’s three-hour practice session Stenhouse surfaced as a top-five contender in race trim. An early qualifying draw on Saturday didn’t help the youngster when it came time to clock a fast lap. Stenhouse circled the track in 30.104 seconds placing him 13th on the starting grid. Ken Butler III took the pole with a fast lap time of 29.476 seconds followed by Sean Caisse on the outside of the front row.
Butler brought the 41-car field off turn four for the green and the field immediately shuffled for position. Stenhouse made his way to 11th on the first lap before the first of eight cautions flew when the No. 90 backed into the wall in turn four. Stenhouse reported that the Ford was a little free but overall he felt it was pretty good. The field restarted on lap seven and once again the caution flew before they could round the 1.33-mile oval.
Once the field resumed green again Stenhouse had made his way into the top 10 but Caisse, the leader, started to check out. Stenhouse went under Matt Carter for eighth place and began to challenge the No. 1 and No. 22 for position. The No. 09 brought out caution number four on the day and Stenhouse now ran seventh complaining that the car was getting tighter and tighter as the first run went on.
Crew chief Jeff “Lumpy” Campey called for Stenhouse to follow the leaders down pit road under caution on lap 55 and the No. 99 team went to work. In just over 15 seconds the Cup-caliber team changed four tires, refueled and made a wedge adjustment gaining Stenhouse two positions on the track. When the green flag waved over the track on lap 60, Stenhouse was fifth and intently eyeing fourth.
The top six cars of Caisse, Justin Allgaier, Scott Speed, Matt Hawkins and Stenhouse broke away from the field with Caisse once again pulling away. Stenhouse overtook Hawkins for fourth and under the next caution Stenhouse reported that the No. 99 Ford was a little free but, “coming to him.” On lap 97 the No. 16 moved around the No. 01 for first while the No. 99 continued to close the gap on the No. 2.
After the seventh caution, the field restarted on lap 108 with the No. 16 leading the way and the smoke flew. The No. 01 shoved the No. 16 out of the way sending him into the grass on the front stretch and filling the track with smoke. Meanwhile, Stenhouse thought he felt a tire going down into turn one so he lifted and went from fourth to eighth before regrouping and continuing his charge. The final lap brought out the final caution and one more restart. The field took the green and once again Stenhouse felt a tire going down which hampered his efforts. Speed surfaced at the top followed by Jeremy Clements and Brian Scott while Stenhouse crossed the line seventh with all four tires up.
“We had a really good car today,” said Stenhouse. “We seemed to get better on the long runs and the guys in front of us were coming back to me. We just needed it to stay green there at the end. On the last two restarts it felt like I had a tire going down into (turn) one so I fell back. It’s frustrating because we were really hoping to gain a little in the points today and instead we lost. The guys had a great pit stop and the No. 99 Drive One Ford was good, it just didn’t come together at the end.”
Speed continues to lead in the point standings while Stenhouse remains third gaining 10 points and only trailing Carter by five heading into Springfield next week. Stenhouse will return to his roots as the team heads to play in the dirt at Springfield and DuQuoin. Stenhouse will pull double duty as he pilots Carl Edwards No. 199 RE Technologies car in the USAC Silver Crown races in the days prior to the ARCA RE/MAX Series events.
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.