Salem, Ind. (April 13, 2008) – In only his second career ARCA RE/MAX Series (and stock car) start, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. looked like a veteran at Salem Speedway. Salem is a track that Stenhouse was familiar with but racing a stock car vs. a sprint car is night and day and the .555-mile oval. Stenhouse qualified 10th for Sunday’s rain-shortened race and ran in the top-10 all day before finishing an ARCA career best sixth. His first top-10 finish in the ARCA RE/MAX Series in only two starts.
A steady drizzle of rain dampened Salem Speedway on Sunday but it didn’t bring the day to a halt. After a three-hour delay, Ken Schrader brought the field off turn four to take the green and yellow flags for the first 15 laps helping to dry the track. On lap 16, ARCA cut the competitors loose with the No. 46 jumping into the lead while Stenhouse fell into the seventh position. As the field came off turn two on lap 29, chaos ensued. A multiple-car wreck at the front of the pack almost cost Stenhouse his day at the race track but some good spotting and quick reflexes brought the No. 99 Ford to a stop. Stenhouse emerged from the carnage with a right front fender rub and some right rear quarter panel damage but it was nothing that would end his day early.
While under red flag conditions, crew chief Jeff Campey worked with spotter Eric Peterson to determine the damage and develop a plan. Once the field was back under power, Campey brought the No. 99 Ford down pit road for the first time on lap 30 for fuel and to pull the right front fender. Stenhouse returned to the track in 11th for the re-start on lap 40. Within a lap Stenhouse was back in the top-10 and hunting down the leaders.
Over the next 30 laps Stenhouse was the fastest car on the track but reported under caution on lap 66 that he was a little loose off the corners so he was taking it easy. By lap 77 Stenhouse was fifth when the second caution flew. The Roush Fenway team followed the leader staying on track while the temperatures dropped and rain threatened. The third caution flew on lap 104 for debris and on lap 107 Campey took the opportunity to bring the No. 99 Ford down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure and wedge adjustment. The Roush Fenway team had a solid stop gaining Stenhouse two positions on track but the first five cars stayed out placing him in the seventh starting position for the re-start on lap 111.
Stenhouse maintained his top-10 position while following veteran competitors like Ken Schrader and Frank Kimmel. The No. 99 barely escaped catastrophe again on lap 136 when the No. 44 of Kimmel spun in front of him. Stenhouse carried on and was now reporting a tight problem in turns one and two. By lap 140 Stenhouse had moved into the fourth position and was racing hard to try and gain a position or two in the closing laps when on lap 173 another wreck happened just in front of him this time in turns three and four. Stenhouse slowed down but was hit from behind causing severe cosmetic damage to the rear clip. While the field rode under yellow, Stenhouse came down pit road for the final time for right side tires and to pull out the right rear fender.
Stenhouse returned to the track in seventh for the re-start on lap 180 and was able to move his way into sixth for the green/white/checkered finish on lap 206. Mission accomplished for the 20-year old. Stenhouse and the No. 99 team completed all 200 laps and he gained valuable experience meeting all the goals set-forth for him. Justin Allgaier went on to win followed by Schrader in second.
“I was pretty happy with how today went,” said Stenhouse following the race. “I made all the laps and kept all four fenders on the No. 99 Ford. They’re a little wrinkled, but they’re still on. Overall I thought we had a good day. Lumpy (Jeff Campey, crew chief) and the guys gave me a fast race car and our guys had a good day on pit road, I couldn’t have asked for more there. On the track I just tried to learn as much as I could in 200 laps. I was able to follow Frank Kimmel and Ken Schrader which was good and I was also able to pass some cars. With each lap I get a little more comfortable in the car so I’m happy with that. Today was a good day; it definitely helped my confidence as we go into this stretch of six+ races.”
Stenhouse and company return to the track next Saturday at Iowa Speedway for the Prairie Meadows 250. The race will air live on Speed at 1:30 p.m. EDT.
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.