HAMPTON, Ga. (Sept. 1, 2014)- Despite blowing a right rear tire in the last 100 laps, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. gained two positions on the final green-white-checkered attempt taking the checkered flag in the 20th position in Sunday’s Oral-B 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“We went down a lap down early in the race and could never catch the break to get the lucky dog,” Stenhouse said. “I really wish we could have gotten on the lead lap because I think we could have finished top-15 tonight. We have one more race to make the Chase so we will go to Richmond and try to go for the win.”
After battling a loose Fifth Third Bank Ford during his qualifying laps on Friday, the Olive Branch, Miss. native started the 325-lap race in the 26th position and maintained his position to conserve tire wear as tire wear was an issue during practice sessions earlier in the weekend.
With a less than 100 laps remaining, the two-time NASCAR champion was forced to bring his No. 17 Fifth Third Bank Ford to pit road during a green flag run after blowing a right rear tire causing him to go one more lap down.
When the yellow flag was displayed setting up the first green-white-checkered attempt, crew chief Mike Kelley told Stenhouse to take the wave around to get one of his laps back in hopes of a quick caution to get back on the lead lap.
On the final restart of the race, the 2013 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year lined up in the 22nd position and quickly bullied his way up through the field to gain two more positions in the closing laps to take the checkered flag in the 20th position.
Next up for Stenhouse and the No. 17 team is the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, Sept. 6. Race coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC. Coverage can also be heard on MRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90.