September 7, 2008 2:57 PM

Stenhouse Jr. Gains Ground in Championship Hunt

Joliet, Ill. (September 6, 2008) – Hungry for a win and a championship, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. went to Chicago ready to dominate, and that’s exactly what he did.  For the second week in a row, Stenhouse captured the pole and set a new track record in the No. 99 Aflac Ford then followed that up with an outstanding performance on Saturday.  Stenhouse led the most laps, at one point maintaining a 12 second lead over second-place, but a tight handling car and traffic forced him to a second-place finish.

The No. 99 Aflac team was the class of the field right off the truck.  Following a solid practice session, Stenhouse put the No. 99 Aflac Ford on the pole qualifying with a fast lap time of 29.995 seconds.  Stenhouse became the first ARCA RE/MAX Series driver to break the 29 second mark setting a new track record, beating out Joey Miller’s old record of 30.47 seconds.

Stenhouse brought the field down to the green for the start of the 134-lap event and immediately jumped into the lead with points leader Scott Speed falling into second.  The first of six cautions flew on lap one when the No. 09 hit the wall hard on the front stretch.  After a lengthy caution period, the field resumed under green on lap 26 and Speed jumped into the lead ahead of Stenhouse.

Patiently Stenhouse lurked in the shadows of the No. 2 and on lap 35 made a bold move going three-wide in the middle to take over first.  The second caution flew on lap 44 and the Aflac Ford came down pit road for pit stop number one of the evening.  The Aflac team danced their dance and returned Stenhouse to the track in first for the restart on lap 51.

Once again Speed quickly jumped into the lead and the No. 2 and No. 99 made a two-car breakaway.  Stenhouse hunted the No. 2 for 30 laps before maneuvering three-wide through lapped traffic for the lead again.  Stenhouse pulled away from the field gaining a 12-second lead by lap 108.

On lap 112, Stenhouse came onto pit road for his first career green flag pit stop.  Crew chief Jeff Campey called for four tires, one can of fuel and a small wedge adjustment to tighten up the car which was becoming a little too free during a long run.  After securing 20 lugnuts, the Aflac team returned Stenhouse to the track but three cars were left to pit.  The No. 2 received a speeding penalty at the same time caution number five waved on lap 116, putting him one lap down and returning Stenhouse to the lead.

The field restarted on lap 122 and the No. 25 got a jump on the No. 99.  This sent Stenhouse to second and bogged down in traffic.  Stenhouse chased the No. 25 but a tight-handling race car was his nemesis.  The final caution flew on lap 129 resulting in a green/white/checkered finish but not the finish Stenhouse was hoping for.  The Aflac Ford was too tight in traffic to allow Stenhouse to pass the No. 25 of Scott Lagasse for the win forcing him to finish second.  After getting the “lucky dog” award, Speed came back to finish third but ultimately, Stenhouse would gain 25 points in his battle for the championship.

“The No. 99 Aflac Ford was great today,” said Stenhouse following the race.  “The Aflac team was great on pit road, the Roush Yates guys did a great job with the engine and we just had a great car, its unfortunate we didn’t get the finish to go with the effort.  It was awesome that we got the pole, set a new track record and gained 15 more points on the No. 2.  There at the end the car was just too tight and I couldn’t get around Scott.  Overall we had a good weekend though.  We gained in the points, led the most laps and set a new track record.  We’ll just come back next week at Salem and see if we can be better.”

The ARCA RE/MAX Series returns to action next Saturday night at Salem Speedway.

About Roush Fenway Racing

Roush Fenway Racing operates 13 full-time motorsports teams, five in NASCAR Sprint Cup 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; three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun, Travis Kvapil, John Wes Townley and Bobby East; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

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