Brooklyn, Mich. (June 14, 2008) – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. exited the race at Michigan International Speedway where he entered, leading the ARCA RE/MAX Series points. A disappointing qualifying run and 15 hour rain delay didn’t dampen Stenhouse’s efforts as he marched from 21st to finish second, his sixth straight top-10 finish in nine starts. It was a solid effort from the Olive Branch, Miss. native as the ARCA Series heads into a two-week hiatus.
The ARCA RE/MAX Series took to the track on Thursday for practice and qualifying and the No. 99 team arrived with chassis #317, the same Ford the team won with at Kentucky. Stenhouse logged a fast lap time of 40.269 seconds placing him in the 21st starting position for the race while Scott Speed took the pole with a lap time of 38.895 seconds. Several teams, the No. 99 excluded, experienced issues with their right side tires so overnight on Thursday, ARCA made the decision to change everyone’s right side tires replacing the new tire with the same compound they raced at Michigan in 2007.
Rain forced the race into Saturday morning but this coupled with the new tires didn’t faze the No. 99 Roush Fenway team. Stenhouse and company stepped up to the plate and as the green flag waved over the 41-car field, Stenhouse began his charge to the front. By lap seven he had broken into the top-20 and by lap 19 Stenhouse had moved his way to 12th just in time for the first of three cautions on lap 20.
Crew chief Jeff Campey called for the No. 99 team to stick to their plan and down pit road the No. 99 Ford came. Stenhouse received two tires and fuel before the jack dropped and he was back onto the race track. Campey’s pit strategy paid off as Stenhouse assumed the lead for the restart on lap 26. Stenhouse’s competition was quicker on new tires so he moved to fourth by lap 28 but on lap 51, Stenhouse made a textbook pass to claim third from Speed and chase down second place Brian Scott.
The second caution flew on lap 58 and Campey called for the No. 99 to come down pit road for the second and final time. Stenhouse reported that the No. 99 Ford was a little free upon exiting the corners so the call was made to take four tires, fuel and make a track bar adjustment to assist the handling. Stenhouse entered pit stall number three in second but was once again returned to the track in first for the restart on lap 64. There was a brief caution on lap 64 then the race went green for the duration.
The cars of Sean Caisse, Justin Lofton and Speed drove past Stenhouse as he waited for the tires to come in but by lap 87 he was chasing them right back down. Stenhouse made it to second by lap 90 and was slowly closing in on leader Lofton. Time ran out for Stenhouse and the checkered flag flew with Lofton claiming the win at Michigan followed by Stenhouse and fellow Ford driver Frank Kimmel. Lofton became the eighth driver to win in nine race, Stenhouse remains the only driver to have more than one win in 2008 with two (Kentucky and Pocono).
“Michigan is a wide, fast track and it was fun to drive,” said Stenhouse in his post-race press conference. “We definitely didn’t start where we wanted, but I drove the No. 99 Ford up through there to 12th and on the first stop we took two tires and the No. 99 team got me back out in first for the restart. I was really proud of my guys today, they did a great job and because of their hard work we were able to get five bonus points for leading a lap.
“We weren’t very good on new tires but as the run went on we got better and they were coming back to us. We just ran out of laps. We’re going to stick to our plan of trying to make all the laps and run up front and I think if we do that we’ll be able to win more races and stay in contention for the championship.”
Roush Fenway’s rookie maintains his point lead extending it to 95 over second place Speed. Stenhouse has assumed the points lead following his win at Kentucky four weeks ago. The ARCA RE/MAX Series takes a break from the action next weekend then crosses the border into Canada to race at Cayuga on June 29. Stenhouse will spend his off weekend at the Knoxville Midget Nationals in Knoxville, Iowa.
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.