Avondale, Ariz. (March 3, 2013)- In his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup start at Phoenix International Raceway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. bullied his way through the field on the final green-white-checkered flag finish to gain six positions in the final two laps and earn a 16th-place finish in the Subway Fresh Fit 500; currently ranked ninth in the Sprint Cup point standings.
“We’re still learning,” Stenhouse said. “I’m still learning on exactly what I need during practice to make it good for the race and tell them what we need to change between practice and the race. All in all, it was a good day. When we were out front we could run really well and run some good lap times with those guys. We finished 16th and I think we passed six or seven cars on that green-white-checkered, so that was cool and that got us a decent finish. We still have a lot to improve on, but the guys worked very hard. You have to look at the positives and learn from the things we need to make better, but for the second weekend together I think we’re definitely heading in the right direction and I’m looking forward to Vegas.”
When the final yellow flag was displayed on lap 309, crew chief Scott Graves called the reigning two-time NASCAR Nationwide champion to pit-road for four fresh tires and fuel to enable Stenhouse to overtake some of the competitors in the final laps that chose not to pit.
On the final restart, the Olive Branch, Miss. native lined up in the 22nd-position and maneuvered his Best Buy Ford into the 16th-position when the checkered flag finally waved.
Stenhouse led the Roush Fenway Racing qualifying efforts on Friday by qualifying 12th, but two cars dropped to the rear of the field allowing the Sprint Cup rookie to take in the green flag in the eighth position. The young driver consistently ran inside the top-20 while battling an ill-handling machine for a majority of the 312-lap race.
Next up for Stenhouse and the No. 17 team is the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 10. Race coverage begins at 12:30p.m. on FOX. Coverage can also be heard on PRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90.