DuQuoin, Ill. (September 1, 2008) – While most of America was grilling this Labor Day, the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing ARCA team was cooking on the race track. Donning a new Aflac paint scheme, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and company captured the pole in dramatic fashion breaking the track record at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds by four tenths of a second. Stenhouse chased ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran Frank Kimmel for 102 laps but a tight handling car and some last lap chaos led to a fifth place finish. Not the frosting that the team wanted on the cake but it did push them closer to a championship.
The No. 99 Aflac team headed to DuQuoin for the second and final dirt race of the 2008 season looking to top their second place finish at Springfield just two weeks ago. With a sparkling new Aflac paint scheme and Aflac Duck aboard the No. 99 Ford, Stenhouse looked to make a statement and he did just that. During Monday’s qualifying session Stenhouse circled the track in 32.896 seconds winning his first career stock car and ARCA RE/MAX Series pole while breaking the track record set by Brian Tyler two years ago. This put him in the driver’s seat for the start of Monday’s 100-lap event.
Stenhouse brought the field off turn four and to the green flag and immediately put the Duck in the lead. Within two laps Stenhouse reported that the No. 99 Aflac Ford was too tight but crew chief Jeff Campey encouraged him to be patient and ride it out. The first of five cautions flew on lap 24 with Kimmel at the helm and Stenhouse a close second.
Stenhouse was still reporting a tight-handling car so when he came in for his one and only pit stop, the Aflac team filled the Ford with fuel and made a track bar and wedge adjustment to help cure the problem. The top three cars did not pit which placed Stenhouse in fifth for the restart on lap 30. Stenhouse quickly began an ascent to the front of the field but once again Kimmel was the class of the field driving away from the remaining 38 cars.
On lap 47 Stenhouse radioed that the car was shaking and with several other cars having tire issues, the possibility of an unscheduled pit stop arose. The 20-year old continued to hold steady in second and there was no more talk of tire problems, however a tight-handling race car was the talk on the radio. Under the third caution on lap 70, Stenhouse repeated his plight of an ill-handling car but with 20 cars on the lead lap, and the leaders not pitting, Stenhouse was forced to stay on track.
The green flag waved once again on lap 76 with Stenhouse in third and hunting second-place Ken Schrader. Little by little the Roush Fenway rookie worked on the veteran driver finally passing him off turn four on lap 85 for position two. Even with an ill-handling car, Stenhouse continued to close the gap between him and Kimmel but two late-race cautions hurt his race.
The final caution flew on lap 96 and the race came down to a two-lap show down. With elbows up, racing in fourth, Stenhouse eyed the three cars in front of him but as the field rounded the track for the final time the No. 37 of Dexter Bean made contact with Stenhouse on the front stretch sending him back to fifth at the checkers. Kimmel went on to win, sweeping both the dirt races in 2008. Stenhouse claimed his eighth top-five finish of the 2008 season and 12th top-10.
“It's just pretty cool to put my name up there with Brian Tyler and Tony Stewart and all of the other guys who have broken the track record at DuQuoin over the years," said Stenhouse following his qualifying run. After the race Stenhouse said, “We picked up 15 points for the pole and five for leading but I know we could have closed the gap more on the championship. But every little bit helps. The Aflac Ford Fusion was just too tight today. I tried everything I could to make it better but nothing helped. We made some adjustments on the pit stop but they didn’t help either. It’s a bit frustrating but we have to keep digging. The Aflac car looks great though. I’m looking forward to taking the Duck to Chicago and having a better finish with him next week.”
Stenhouse gained 35 points in the championship battle trailing Scott Speed by 75 (he trailed by 110 coming into DuQuoin). The Aflac team will have a few days to regroup before returning to action at Chicagoland next Saturday at 5:00 p.m. CDT. Live timing and scoring is available at www.arcaracing.com and the race will air on Speed, Sunday.
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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. For more information on any of the Roush Fenway Racing teams, log onto www.RoushFenway.com.